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Melenchuk, James Williams (1953–)

Born June 24, 1953, in Regina, Jim Melenchuk was educated at the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan. Following graduation from medical school in 1980, he established a private practice in Saskatoon and was active in the province’s medical community. Melenchuk also served the Saskatchewan Liberal Party in various capacities before contesting public office in the 1995 provincial election. Narrowly defeated in the constituency of Saskatoon Northwest, Melenchuk was one of several Liberals critical of Lynda Haverstock’s leadership, and he helped remove her as party head.

Melenchuk contested and won the party leadership in 1996, but he was unable to prevent the disintegration of the deeply divided party. A year later, the Liberals lost their place as Official Opposition following the defection of four MLAs to the Saskatchewan Party, one to the NDP, and one who chose to sit as an independent. Despite losing a 1998 by-election in Saskatoon Eastview, Melenchuk contested the 1999 general election and narrowly won the constituency of Saskatoon Northwest. He decided to form a coalition with Roy Romanow’s NDP minority government and was rewarded with the Minister of Education portfolio. Although the Liberal Party endorsed the coalition at first, party members became opposed to the deal and Melenchuk was removed as leader in 2001.

Melenchuk sat in the house as an independent and remained in Cabinet as Lorne Calvert became Premier. In 2003, Melenchuk became Minister of Finance and later joined the NDP. However, he was defeated in Saskatoon Northwest in the election later that year. In March 2005, Melenchuk was appointed as academic health sciences liaison between the government and the University of Saskatchewan.

Holden Stoffel

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Further Reading

French, Janet. 2005. “Melenchuk Lands Role as Gov’t, U of S Go-Between.” Saskatoon StarPhoenix (March 10), A3; Quiring, Brett. 2004. “Melenchuk, James Williams.” Pp. 164–65 in Brett Quiring (ed.), Saskatchewan Politicians: Lives Past and Present. Regina: Canadian Plains Research Center.
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