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Richard James (Rick) Swenson was born on April 12, 1952 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to Donald and Dorothy Swenson. He was raised in the Baildon district, southeast of Moose Jaw. Swenson attended the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Regina and studied Political Science and History.
Prior to entering politics, Swenson farmed in the Baildon district. He established Wheaton Bee Farms in 1976 which specialized in alfalfa seed production and dryland grass varieties. He was also active in the formation of the Baildon/Moose Jaw Effluent Irrigation Project from 1974 to 1982. Swenson was a member of the Canadian and Saskatchewan Seed Growers' Associations, the South Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation and the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool.
Swenson was first elected to the Saskatchewan Legislature in a 1985 by-election and served as the Progressive Conservative Party Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for the Thunder Creek constituency until 1995. He served in the Grant Devine Government as Minister of Energy and Mines (1989-1991); and Minister of Indian and Métis Affairs (June to November 1991). Swenson's ministerial responsibilities included Saskatchewan Economic Development Corporation (1989-1991); Saskatchewan Research Council (1989-1991); Saskatchewan Mining Development Corporation (1990-1991); and Agricultural Development Corporation (1990-1991).
Swenson served as Acting Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan from 1992 to 1994 and was Leader of the Opposition from 1993 to 1994. He retired from politics in 1995. However, in 2004, he was elected Party Leader by the executive committee of the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan. Swenson ran unsuccessfully as the Progressive Conservative Party candidate for the Thunder Creek constituency in the 2007 general election. He continues (2009) to serve as Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan.
Swenson continues to farm in the Baildon district. He was named Farmer of the Year in 2003 by the Moose Jaw Exhibition Company. He has served on boards of directors of various agricultural and environmental initiatives and organizations. Swenson has also operated R.J. Swenson & Associates, a consulting and advertising firm, since 1997.
Rick Swenson has two sons: Andrew and Eric. He is married to Joanne Swenson.