Passion for debate led to life-long career in politics

Posted: September 12, 2012 9:00 a.m.

Bill Knight turned passion into action.
Bill Knight turned passion into action. Photo: U of R Photography

Bill Knight is the recipient of the 2012 Alumni Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an alumnus for a lifetime of achievement and for giving back to society on a regional, national or international basis.

After Knight graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in 1968 and a Bachelor of Education (Dist) in 1970 (from the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan), he took a teaching position in Weyburn, Saskatchewan.  He had no plans to run for political office until he was persuaded to seek the New Democratic Party (NDP) nomination in the federal seat of Assiniboia.

Early on in his career in Ottawa Knight became chief party whip under NDP leader David Lewis during a period of minority government. He became a member of the House of Commons finance committee, an assignment that gave him an opportunity to meld his interest in history, political science and economics with his affinity for math, a combination of talents he would use again later in his career.

In the 1970s he served as principal secretary to Saskatchewan Premier Allan Blakeney and later as principal secretary to federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent. In the 1980s he was the NDPs chief electoral strategist.

In 1989, Knight left politics to join Credit Union Central of Canada and in 1995 became its President and CEO, a position he held until he was appointed the first commissioner of the newly-created Financial Consumer Agency of Canada in 2001. He is a designated Corporate Director and currently serves on a number of Canadian boards, as well as playing an advisory role both in Canada and internationally.

Though he has not lived in Saskatchewan for many years, Knight still has strong ties to the province and the University of Regina. He credits his Saskatchewan roots, his parents, and the influence of the University of Regina for providing him with the strong underpinnings on which to build his career. He takes pride in the way the University has grown and says he is honoured to be chosen to receive an Alumni Crowning Achievement Award.

"Even though I’ve moved beyond the borders of Saskatchewan, that old line about how you can take the boy out of the Prairie but you can't take the Prairie out of the boy is, in my case, true."

Knight will be one of five distinguished alumni recognized at the eighth Annual Alumni Crowning Achievement Awards Gala on September 27.

To purchase tickets and for more information visit: www.uregina.ca/alumni/acaa-event or call 1-877-779-4723.