I don't know about you but as I age, the thought of cold and winter becomes less appealing to me. When I woke up early this morning, my local radio station said Moose Jaw had got to -1. I couldn't see any evidence of frost on the Swenson farm yet but we will see after a couple of hours of sunlight if anything was touched. We didn't cover the garden last night and I was hoping that some of my newer grape plants in the vineyard would get the opportunity to grow for another couple of weeks. My grazing corn is definitely not ready for a hard frost. Hopefully winter is several months away!
I'm sure our Sask Party government must be hoping for a change of political weather when it comes to the GTH land scandal. This past week, more revelations have come to light about the validity of the appraisals that were used to justify the huge purchase price for land around the GTH. It also came to light that the GTH can't pay its bills, is not selling enough land to meet its budget projections and in fact, has not been able to make payments on its loan with a major Canadian bank for 2 years and the interest payment is the only thing being paid.
For anyone who cares to look, the PC Party put out a release last Thursday comparing the GTH to a past NDP government's venture into the potato business called "Spudco". The really sad thing for Saskatchewan taxpayers is that much of the $2 billion expenditure on the south Regina bypass is being spent to build infrastructure to deliver truck traffic to the GTH. No wonder Brad Wall wants to get out of Saskatchewan politics before all of the bills for this come home to roost with Saskatchewan taxpayers. As you heard me say on tv and radio ads during the 2016 election campaign, we are building a highway to nowhere.
My final comment for the day is hats off to the plant breeders at the University of Saskatchewan, the Crop Development Centre and our federal research stations for their continued development of crops suitable to western Canada. A lot of the evidence that is coming in after harvest shows that their diligence over many years has resulted in wheat cultivars which are far more tolerant to drought stress than earlier varieties.
This last hot dry summer was a great test for the resilience of the new kinds of spring wheat available to farmers. I have heard of some excellent yields in fields where there was virtually no rainfall for the summer. These crops lived on what moisture there was in the soil and were able to utilize the nutrients available to them even in the face of extreme heat and windy conditions. It will be interesting to see how these same varieties will fair if we are facing similar conditions 2 years in a row.
I'm sure Sask Crop Insurance will be breathing a sigh of relief because they will not have to expend as much money on claims as everyone was expecting. In fact, everyone in agriculture from grain companies on down should be giving the folks in the plant breeding community a high-five and taking them out to dinner at the very least because Saskatchewan's prosperity is still tied in many ways to what comes out of our fields on an annual basis. Well done to the folks that find us the new plants to keep agriculture going year after year.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”
It grieves me to say "I told you so" but with the release of the province's public accounts last Friday, it clearly shows that the numbers don't lie. Saskatchewan's deficit for 2016-2017 is $1.22 billion and the provincial debt has climbed to $10 billion. One week before the last provincial election, PC Party President Grant Schmidt and I stood on the steps of the Legislature and told the gathered reporters that Saskatchewan's debt would be $1.2 billion.
Grant and I were able to come to that figure simply by looking at all of the deals the Sask Party was doing and their reckless expenditures of taxpayers' money. The Sask Party's spokesperson, Kathy Young, was quick to refute that figure and said that the PC Party's numbers were all wrong and that Saskatchewan's deficit would be as forecast. I think Ms Young and the entire Sask Party government owe the PC Party and the taxpayers of Saskatchewan a huge apology.
PC Party president Grant Schmidt announces that Mr. Stu Esson is leaving his position at the PC provincial office effective August 1, 2017. “I would like to thank Stu for his dedication to the party, executive and the members of our caucus and for his time and effort on behalf of our party. During Stu’s time as executive director we have seen an increase in support for the PC Party across the province and Stu’s hard work helped ensure that the PC Party ran the most candidates in the 2016 election that it has run since the 1995 general election. His hard work on our behalf means that the PC Party will continue to gain momentum, new candidates and new leadership in the years to come. Stu’s last day in the office will be July 31, 2017 and we wish him well in his future endeavours.”
PC Party Leader Rick Swenson echoes Mr. Schmidt’s comments and added “I really appreciated the personal rapport and dedication which Stu put forth on my behalf as leader of the party and keeping our office functioning at a high level during the most hectic days of the last provincial election campaign. Without his efforts I could not have been travelling across the province spreading the PC message.”
The PC Party of Saskatchewan is pleased to announce that the time and place for a nomination meeting for the Saskatoon Fairview by-election has been set.
Party President Grant Schmidt states “We have booked the 2nd level Theatre of the Cosmo Civic Centre for a 7:30 pm meeting, Thursday August 3.”
Party Leader Rick Swenson will be speaking at the nomination meeting.
The Cosmo Civic Centre is located at 3130 Laurier Drive in Saskatoon.
Mr. Schmidt concluded “Deadline for nominations is noon, Monday, July 24, so we will know at that time if the nomination will be contested.”
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Every once in a while a public policy issue comes along and seems to take on a life of its own. The policy issue I'm referring to is the proposed carbon tax. The problem with an initiative like this is the fact that most of us don't have the necessary knowledge base to make rational decisions and secondly, this is an issue that is open to political grand standing.
Various forms of carbon taxes have been the reality in several Canadian provinces for a number of years now. They were instituted in order to start addressing the effects of climate change and changing the way that our society uses various forms of energy. So it is a big area of public policy. Not everyone agrees with climate change in the first place and whether you come from a consuming province or a producing province also can affect your views on this issue. We have all witnessed the war of words between the Premier of Saskatchewan and the Federal Liberal government who has decided that all provinces will have some form of carbon tax by 2018.
My hat goes off to the APAS organization for sponsoring a conference in Saskatoon last week on this topic in conjunction with their semi-annual meeting. They brought in speakers from across Canada and put together a very in depth presentations by people who have studied all aspects of the carbon issue. The conference was very well attended with a wide spectrum of Saskatchewan's population attending. The APAS organization is to be commended for a first-class effort at helping us understand where we all fit in this very complex issue.
We have to feel for our fellow Canadians living in central British Columbia as wildfires rage through that part of beautiful BC. Hot dry weather along with the ravages of the bark pine beetle which has left millions of dead trees in BC's forest have created the perfect storm for people living in that area. One only has to wonder if the heat keeps up in Saskatchewan if we will not face some of the same challenges soon.
It's been a long time since I've seen hay crops dry down so quickly. I'm baling heavy alfalfa swaths in less than 48 hours. Many producers in Saskatchewan are going to be faced with a feed shortage this winter if they did not conserve hay stocks from the previous wet years. You can certainly see the damages that are occurring to many other crops that cannot take day-after-day above 30 degrees celsius with no rain. Let's keep our fingers crossed that there is a change in the weather for a whole lot of reasons.
It would appear from the newscasts and the live coverage of various events celebrating Canada's 150th birthday that it went very well all across the country. The weather cooperated in most parts of Canada and here in Saskatchewan, we certainly had a beautiful day.
I think Canadians have really come to understand that Canada is truly a very privileged place in which to live. I think for a long time we were envious of other peoples and I can remember growing up, people would say "I would like to live in this country or that country" after they grew up and received their education. One only has to look around at the various peoples who have immigrated to Canada and why they have come here to understand how fortunate we are.