Husband, father, brother, uncle, civil servant. Born Feb 15, 1952, in Buenos Aires, died Feb 18, 2012, in Winnipeg of undetermined natural causes, aged 60.
At the age of 3, Sandy immigrated to Canada with his Polish father, Joseph, his Scottish mother, Joan, and older brother Martin.
He grew up in Winnipeg and Calgary, graduating with bachelor and masters degrees from the University of Manitoba before obtaining a masters of public administration at Queen's University in Kingston.
Sandy's professional life was dedicated to bettering society through excellence in public service.
He prized clarity of thought and speech, and smote bafflegab – which is why, after securing his MPA in 1977, he headed to Regina to work with the activist New Democratic Party government of Allan Blakeney.
Sandy believed that progressive and well-administered government was an essential component of a successful society, and at the time Saskatchewan was the best example of that.
Always keen to provoke a spirited argument, Sandy would happily goad conservative acquaintances about the Blakeney government’s track record of balanced budgets, and remind them it had the fewest civil servants per capita of any Western province.
But all good things must come to an end, and in 1982 Sandy moved with his wife Meryle to Edmonton to work with the federal Economic Development Coordinator department.
For the next 25 years, he worked on projects and secondments for the federal government in Western Canada. During this time he and Meryle welcomed two sons, Benjamin and Graeme, and daughter Jamie.
Sandy assisted with the Redwood Meadows project west of Calgary, which created non-aboriginal residential housing on first-nations land. In the early 1990s he worked for one year in Yellowknife on the Northern Project, which sought in part to reduce the cost of government in the Northwest Territories prior to the creation of Nunavut.
He then moved to Winnipeg. At the International Institute for Sustainable Development, he created one of his proudest achievements: the Protecting the Environment and Reducing Canada's Deficit Action Plan, published in 1994.
The plan argued that Canada should use tax policy to help protect the environment. An editorial in The Ottawa Citizen applauded the plan’s insights and its “clear and spartan prose,” which he noted was “a rarity in institutional writing on the environment.”
Sandy loved music, and preferred the warm sound of analog vinyl to dig ital compact discs. He amassed a collection of tens of thousands of LPs, many rare. He also collected books about one of his heroes, Winston Churchill.
Unfortunately, Sandy was afflicted with psoriasis in 2004, which became so severe he was forced to take early retirement in 2007.
Bill Gillies is Sandy’s brother.