It appears spring has finally sprung! The seven-day forecast is for the high teens and the low 20's and no snow in sight. It's going to be great to finally get the yard dry enough to start working on seeding machinery and cleaning seed. This will be the first crop I've seeded since 2014 so I know there will be some challenges both with the machinery and with the guy running the equipment. I'm sure everything will come back but there will be a few challenging days before the old memories kick back in. Time will tell.
Do you remember when you were a small child and you would have bad nightmares and your parents would do their best to calm your fears and tell you that whatever was waking you up in the middle of the night would fade away as you grew up? Unfortunately when you are involved in agriculture in western Canada, there is a reoccurring nightmare that you don't seem to be able to do anything about no matter how old you get.
That nightmare is the inability of getting the commodities you've worked so hard to grow and produce to their markets around the world and pay your bills. The nightmare is doubly scary because you seem powerless to do anything about it because it keeps happening over and over again. All of Saskatchewan is affected by this nightmare both urban and rural and it seems no matter who we elect, both federally and provincially, they can't stop the nightmare.
Once again, we are facing the probability of a shutdown of one of our two national railways. These railways have a monopoly over hauling all of our products to tide water and to major value-adding facilities. After a long and cold winter where our two national railways once again under-performed and tried to blame their under-performance on the weather, we now have our good weather potentially blocked by a strike of the members of two major unions and their contractual negotiations with CP Rail.
Why couldn't the unions and CP Rail have not settled their labour issues during the cold winter months when they were under-performing as it was? Almost all of our commodities are under stress because of the NAFTA negotiations, the inability to build new pipelines, the unfair tariffs put on our crops by countries like India and the obvious increases in container and other consumer traffic on our railway system.
I have absolutely no problem with workers banding together to negotiate good working conditions and fair wages from their employers. I grew up and went to school with many individuals who have spent their working lives working for CP Rail. My acquaintances tell me that this can be a very demanding and stressful way of making a living and they need to be compensated accordingly. Safe working conditions in the work place should be mandatory. CP Rail has a history of thinking that they own western Canada and everything produced in it because we have had no other option to move our products.
At some point in time, we must have the political leadership in this country to change that attitude and come up with a system that doesn't allow this reoccurring nightmare. I would prefer solutions that are more market-friendly than simply the heavy hand of government. But because these two national railways operate as virtual monopolies, the federal government must regulate them.
During the last provincial election, the PC Party of Saskatchewan promoted the idea of strengthening our short-line rail system and finding ways to connect that system to the Burlington Northern Railway in the United States. We believe this was the right thing to do because it would give our commodities another marketing option to get to tide water.
Those connections and improvements would be paid for by tolling fees that would be charged on the commodities being transported. We also believe that it's time through regulation that we have improved running rights on the rail beds in western Canada. The taxpayers of this province and Canada have paid for those road beds over and over again. I don't think the taxpayers have any interest in running the engines and rolling stock necessary to run railroads. Taxpayers have no interest in the thousands of employees that it takes to run railroads but we do have a strong interest in getting our commodities to market when one or both of our railroads and their employees stop doing the job at hand.
Surely to goodness we could have rail cars full of commodities on one line going to the Port of Vancouver and the empties coming back on another line to be refilled again. In my view, it shouldn't matter whose railway the one-way traffic travels on as long as they get paid for the cargo that originated in their system. Surely we could put an arbitration process in place that allows employees to be fairly treated without the necessity to strike in our most crucial shipping periods.
I thought we elected people to show the necessary leadership to solve these problems and not simply leave them to the vagaries of corporate greed or the agendas of union bosses. When is that old saying of "enough is enough" going to be a reality in western Canada? Every person here and their standard of living depends on the production and movement of our products to the international marketplace. 150 years of railway nonsense has taught us how hurtful this reoccurring nightmare is.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.
The PC Party of Saskatchewan calls last week’s first Moe budget an illusion of prosperity instead of the promised renewal of a tired SP government. Expectations were high but unfortunately after a week of scrutiny, all we see is a slight of hand.
"To give the government some credit, there were small positives such as funds allocated to provide coverage for HIV drugs and for young children with autism. Financial resources to begin a much-needed rural crime strategy were finally allocated", PC Party Leader Rick Swenson said.
"The illusion is that the province was “on track” to getting their financial house in order but in reality, they are adding $2.3 billion to our debt. The illusion of investing in rural Saskatchewan conflicts with the reality that the dollars this government is spending on servicing our ballooning debt is more than will be spent for transportation of our commodities and the environment. This amount is only slightly less than what is being spent for public safety and agriculture combined.
The PC Party of Saskatchewan is demanding transparency and full disclosure in the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority’s (SLGA) marijuana retail permit selection process.
“This Friday, the Minister responsible for the SLGA has promised more information on the number and make-up of the province’s marijuana store applicants. The Minister has reported that there have been hundreds of applications and that the successful applicants will be determined by a lottery - they will be drawn out of hat. Given the Sask Party government's track record on “deal making”, having this government oversee this lottery process is a gamble that is far too risky to ensure accountability and public safety”, says PC Party Leader Rick Swenson.
Mr. Swenson went on to say, “The PC Party of Saskatchewan is calling on the government to implement two important steps in the approval process. First, transfer the lottery selection process to an independent third party who would do the drawing process in public thus ensuring full and open transparency is achieved. Second, once the successful applicants have been chosen, they must agree to have their company officers and major shareholder names fully disclosed to the public. The Saskatchewan public needs to know and trust the people involved in this very ground-breaking sale of a new restricted substance."
In closing Mr. Swenson had this to say, “Last week’s budget was a great illusion on the realities facing Saskatchewan. It is high time for the Sask Party government to stop their smoke and mirror tactics. They can begin by agreeing to the transparency and disclosure steps that the PC Party have outlined and demand to take place for public safety and accountability”.
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For more information, call Rick Swenson at (306) 631-5461 or Provincial Office at (306) 693-7572.
We are one day short of a week of this year's provincial budget presentation. As usual with these well-crafted documents, particularly if they are crafted by a government who feels political power slipping from their grasp, the devil is in the details.
The initial reaction seemed to be one of relief that there weren't the drastic cuts and tax hikes that occurred in last year's budget. There was no stripping away of money for schools, libraries and the funerals of Saskatchewan's poorest citizens. The changes in the Sask Party brain trust made sure those events wouldn't happen again. The reality is, however, that this Sask Party government is adding $2.3 billion to the provincial debt and is not setting a path for economic growth.
By last Friday, we found out that no matter how good a deal you thought you made with your local car dealer on a used car or truck, you will be charged PST according to what some bureaucrat in SGI deems it is worth. Once again, we have a Crown Corporation being used as a financial milk cow by the Sask Party government.
This is the same old trick the previously NDP governments used by using our Crown Corporations - many of which are monopolies - to back-door tax us. As the days and weeks move on, there will be other examples of cash grabs by this broke Sask Party government that has no vision for the future except winning another provincial election by talking to their base.
The next shoe to drop will probably be a down-grade in Saskatchewan's credit rating so that we can spend more of our hard-earned dollars paying interest on the debt racked up by things like the Regina bypass. One or two overpasses and a few traffic lights would have saved lives and not burdened this province with generations of debt.
I've always believed in my personal life and when I was in government that you borrow money to make money and then when you make money, you can spend it to improve the quality of life for your family and in the case of government, for the citizens of this province. You put in place the incentives that will encourage people to create wealth. The Sask Party has learned how to create wealth for a few of their rich friends and the Party's election bank account. They have forgotten about the rest of us.
In case some of you did not see the release, the PC Party of Saskatchewan will be holding a leadership convention on the 3rd and 4th of November, 2018 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. I think it is very important that Saskatchewan pays attention to this event, that good people put their name forward to contest this leadership and that the PC Party has a new beginning and therefore gives Saskatchewan voters a choice they currently don't have.
Saskatchewan needs a made-in-Saskatchewan Conservative party that is fiscally responsible and socially progressive. Saskatchewan needs a party that talks about incentives and brings forth policies that brings out Saskatchewan's entrepreneurial excellence so that we can generate the wealth necessary to have a fair and just society.
Stay tuned for some new ideas from the people seeking the leadership of the PC Party and stay tuned for some new ideas coming from the people who have been around the PC Party for a long time and stay tuned for more bad news out of this Sask Party budget.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.
"The people of Saskatchewan were really hoping with the selection by the Sask Party of a new Premier that we all would have a different way of governing, a new vision of how Saskatchewan would move forward and a different approach to how our hard earned dollars are being spent", said PC Leader Rick Swenson.
"The theme of the budget this year was "On Track". It should have been the "Derailment Continues". Saskatchewan will add $2.3 billion to its provincial debt this year. That extra money does not go toward a new vision or increased employment, opportunities or the ability of Saskatchewan to handle the mounting pressures around us from things like trade and inability to market our products", Swenson continues.
The Sask Party continues to spend a third of the provincial highway budget on 50 kilometres of road around Regina. They continue to nickel and dime us on the everyday necessities of life through the Crown Corporations and continue to add PST to everyday items in our everyday lives as we struggle to maintain our families and our homes. The PC Party of Saskatchewan pointed out the train wreck that was happening in our finances before the 2016 election with the jump in the budget deficit to $1.3 billion.
Swenson concluded, "We had hoped with the departure of people like Bill Boyd, Kevin Doherty and Brad Wall that the new Sask Party Premier would choose a different path and a different vision. Borrowing more money to pay for bad decisions by his predecessors is not a new vision. Reversing more of the cuts made in last year's budget is not a new vision and ignoring the fact that Saskatchewan needs new entrepreneurial activities like developing alternate energy sources and using our vast amounts of waste heat to grow our employment base and our tax base is not a new vision. The only vision Premier Moe and the Sask Party have concentrated on is trying to keep their rural base together and win one more election. That is all this budget is "On Track" for."
The PC Party continues to review the impact of this budget. The “devil is in the details”, as more details are uncovered, we will be commenting further in the days and weeks ahead.
For more information, Rick Swenson at (306) 631-5461 or Provincial Office at (306) 693-7572.
(Moose Jaw, SK) The Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan is formally announcing they will be hosting a leadership convention on Saturday, November 3, 2018, in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.
"After leading the party for over twelve years, I have decided it is time for new leadership to take over and take us to the next level,” said PC Party leader Rick Swenson. “I have notified our party’s executive that I would be resigning as leader immediately following the election of a new leader on November third.”
The calendar says that it's spring but my body and the amount of clothes I had on this morning to check cows tells me it's still winter. Joanne and I came back from Arizona last Thursday hoping that our arrival would bring warm weather with us. Instead, we came back to ice covered roads between Medicine Hat and Moose Jaw and lots of white knuckle driving in between. Unfortunately, on our way to Regina on Saturday for a granddaughter's birthday party, we witnessed a half ton truck doing a double rollover and landing back on its wheels. All of us in Saskatchewan need to be prepared at all times to deal with Mother Nature and the ever-changing road conditions that exit until spring finally does arrive for good.
Thank you to PC Party President Grant Schmidt for the last couple of weeks of commentary and a different perspective on politics in Saskatchewan. Over the next couple of months as the PC Party goes through its leadership process, Grant and I will be writing the commentaries with a different twist for you to peruse and make comments on.
Yesterday morning the PC Party put out a news release welcoming David Bucsis of Yorkton as the new Executive Director. I would encourage everyone to look at the Party's news release which will show that David has an extensive resume of political, business and community involvement. Please take the opportunity in the coming months to welcome him and say hello as he travels around the province promoting the PC Party of Saskatchewan.
David will be replacing Dale Burnay who stepped in on an interim basis last August. I can't say enough about Dale's work ethic and dedication to the Party. Dale had previously been our Executive Director some years ago and brought a whole host of political knowledge to the position and I look forward to working with him in the months to come as he continues to serve on the Executive of the Party. Thanks again Dale!
After a couple of weeks of American politics, it's nice to come home to a system that is at times frustrating, painfully slow to implement change and at times makes your blood boil, but does represent some of the best of what Canadians are. In my view, the American system is broken and the continued excesses of Donald Trump are only indicators of how broken it truly is. Americans are preparing once again for national congressional elections so life in the good old US of A will be pure ugly politics until those elections are over in November.
I couldn't believe my eyes when I got home and started reading past copies of the Regina Leader Post to see that the Sask Party government is now trying to foist their GTH financial boondoggle onto the City of Regina. If the Mayor and Council of Regina don't have the sense they were born with to allow themselves to be dragged into this mess then they should be thrown out by the taxpayers of that city. Until the long-delayed Justice Department investigation of Bill Boyd and his business cronies is completed in full and the true costs of land acquisition and servicing agreements are revealed to the public, there should be no sale of this property.
From reading the articles, it appears the GTH is badly in debt, has not met its land sale projections and is way behind the monies owed to the City of Regina for servicing agreements. It is imperative that the new Premier commit to an open and accountable examination of this whole process and that any of his current Cabinet Ministers who had anything to do with the GTH and related portfolios should be forced to come clean with what they know.
Simply because Brad Wall and Bill Boyd have exited Saskatchewan politics does not and should not mean that others of the Sask Party government can be absolved from the mess and loss of taxpayers' dollars that is surrounding the GTH. I can understand why Don Morgan would want to dump this mess onto the lap of Regina City Council in order to preserve the Sask Party's political hide but that should not be the case until all the answers are given.
I'm looking forward to the presentation of Saskatchewan's budget on April 10th to see how Premier Moe tries to pull the fiscal rabbit out of the hat and expunge Saskatchewan's billion dollar deficit without drastically taxing all of us. We shall wait and see.
Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.