Several times in this commentary since the last provincial election, I unfortunately have said "I told you so" when referring to the performance of our Sask Party government. This morning I'm having another one of those "I told you so" moments.
In the 2016 general election, the PC candidate in Kindersley riding, Terry Smith, during an all-candidate debate challenged Bill Boyd to do the right thing. He said, "Mr. Boyd, why don't you just resign now and save the taxpayers the cost of a by election because you are going to be gone in a short time anyway". Mr. Boyd, of course, told the audience that the PC candidate was all wet and he would be around to serve the people of Kindersley for the next four years if elected.
Surprise! Surprise! Mr. Boyd pulls the pin on his political career last week one day before the CBC reveals another scandal knocking on his doorstep. Sometime in the next six months, the taxpayers of Saskatchewan will be footing another $400,000 bill for a by election in the riding of Kindersley. That money could have paid for four more nurses in the Kindersley area, probably a half a dozen teachers for the area's children or help repair some badly-needed infrastructure. Maybe it could have put in a passing lane on that killer piece of road between Kindersley and Rosetown.
The point I'm making is Mr. Boyd's resignation, along with Mr. Wall's resignation, is all about the wellbeing of themselves and the political health of the Sask Party and nothing to do with the health of Saskatchewan and it's deficit budgets.
This past Friday the PC Party called on the rest of the Sask Party MLAs who are baling on a sinking ship to please announce their resignations all at the same time so that we are not burdened with a by election every second month for years to come. There is absolutely no reason that Saskatoon Fairview and Kindersley could not be happening at the same time.
There is no reason for Kindersley to be happening at all as Bill Boyd should have done the right thing and left a long time ago because of his handling of GTH land scandal, SaskPower's smart meters fiasco and other wastes of taxpayer's money. Because he stuck around, we now have Mr. Boyd peddling an irrigation company in China using the Sask government logo on promotional material allowing his business partners to pass him off as the Minister of the Economy and holding out the carrot of Canadian citizenship through our immigrant investment programs.
I had always thought you had to file a prospectus with the Saskatchewan Securities Commission and have your business plan ok'd before you could start selling Saskatchewan investments to someone else. Our illustrious former Sask Party Minister was somehow trying to convince people to buy an 80% interest in an irrigation pivot for $300,000 which in reality costs about $100,000 in total. I also thought you needed to have water licenses in place to develop large scale irrigation projects off the south Saskatchewan river. Evidently if you are an insider Sask Party person, you can do all of the above with no questions asked.
Is this exit strategy tied to Mr. Wall's exit and is this all about getting out of dodge before another shoe drops? It is an exit strategy that should be totally unacceptable to all Saskatchewan taxpayers.
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.