I am sure most people were shocked, as was I, with the SNC Lavalin scandal that is unfolding before us. It is corruption to the core when political influence to change the rules is exerted in the name of saving political donors. In my opinion, this abhorrent abuse of power and must not be tolerated.
Why then are we allowing it to happen at the provincial level?! It doesn't seem to matter what party is in power but money seems to get you access to the Premier. The NDP governments of Romanow and Calvert put forward "most available hours". the Saskatchewan Party has done its fair share of work for its donors. Recent cases involving insurance companies seeking cash out limits for Universal Life policies and of course the much publicized Brandt developments in Wascana Park in Regina are examples. Clearly, the optics of big donor money may have played a role in some of these issues. Why then aren't we demanding some accountability here?!
Between 2007 and 2017 Saskatchewan tax credits issued for political donations was $45,216,377.63. In 2017 the Saskatchewan party received $1,797,426.24. and the NDP received $973,400.65. If we assumed the average total tax credit at 60% of total 2017 donations to those parties it would mean Saskatchewan taxpayers subsidized political donors to the tune of $1,662,496.14. It's a win-win for some donors wanting government business and political parties wanting cash. However, 2017 was a year where we saw tax increases and program cuts. Interestingly enough the political donor tax credit was not a casualty of these cuts.
Perhaps we need to rethink policy in this area. Why should a donor to a political party get a bigger tax credit than a donor to charity? In an era of economic struggle, why do political parties come out unscathed? When certain companies are in litigation how do they gain access to the Premier, changes to law or sweetheart deals merely by a petition from companies some of whom may be political donors?
If it’s wrong for Justin Trudeau why is it not wrong for Scott Moe or Ryan Meili? We really need to look at alternatives. Do we need to give a tax credit for political donations at all? Should it be the same as charitable donations? Should we just limit donation levels or do we ban any corporation who donates to a political party from bidding on government contracts? These are all worthy questions that should be considered. In the meantime its business as usual in the new Saskatchewan.
We can't wait for the change, we must create it!
Leader, Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan
Letter to the Editor (as published)
February 21, 2019
Murray Mandryk’s Feb. 9 column suggests Premier Scott Moe is the winner in the carbon tax fight. A victory proclamation for Moe may be a bit premature given we have no idea how the courts will rule on the court challenge. Indeed, there's a lot riding on the decision of the court, and this government hasn't exactly been successful often when it comes to court challenges.
The winner may be the Saskatchewan Party itself, which picked a good issue with which to attack the federal government. There's nothing better for political polls than to attack a federal government - with a Trudeau at the helm no less. We wish the government well in this fight, because the carbon tax is an insidious tax that can do nothing but make life more expensive for the families of Saskatchewan. It would join the list of Sask. Party tax hikes and fee increases to make life here more unaffordable. We in the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan say no to the carbon tax, but we also say no to the expanded PST. We say no to increased fees, and parents and teachers paying more out of pocket for school costs.
Yes, we say no to all of these which begs the question, win or lose at the courthouse, after the carbon tax decision is made, what’s next?
Ken Grey, Moose Jaw
Grey is the leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan
December 1, 2016, was the day my Dad passed away. This may seem like an odd commentary topic. However, it is one of the reasons why I decided to get involved in politics again. My Dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer at the same time my Mother’s health began to deteriorate and the experience with the health system and the official opposition made a mockery of their plight in my opinion.
Mom was long diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and Dad was diagnosed with his cancer probably five years ago. Mom stayed at home until Dad was no longer capable. We managed to get Mom a respite stay at a long-term care (LTC) home in Saskatoon. I was working a term project in Saskatoon at the same time for a company I was working with at the time. About two weeks into the respite, while at work, I received a call from the LTC facility indicating my Mom was being sent by ambulance to a Saskatoon hospital. They wouldn't give me any more details. I rushed from work to the emergency department not really sure what to expect. The ambulance pulled up and when the door opened I saw my mother sitting there swearing at the ambulance personnel. I asked them what was wrong with her and the reply to that question horrified me. They couldn't handle her at the home. Yes, my mom was evicted.
Mom stayed at this hospital for about one month in December 2013. Dad would come to visit her every couple of days at first. As his pain became worse these visits became more infrequent. I began spending the night at the hospital to care for my mother. She was not getting fed nor changed. It was a terrible time for our family. My father technically needed my help more because he was still at home in Colonsay but here I was staying at the hospital caring for my mother where she was to get the appropriate supports but was not. In January of 2014 Mom was moved to the geriatric unit at Saskatoon City Hospital. There she received better care. Paradoxically it was also the place that caused more pain.
Mom spent another three months at City Hospital waiting for permanent placement. Her disease had manifested to verbal and physical outbursts against staff and family. It was here where I saw my Dad break down and cry for the first time in my life. There were staff members who refused to care for Mom because of the punches she threw during care. In the meantime, the disease or possibly the medication was making Mom drowsy much of the day and within a week she was essentially confined to a wheelchair. Our family had discussions with staff about her care but our concerns seemed to be falling on deaf ears. One staff member said to us if we ask for any medication changes to make Mom more alert, staff would refuse to care for her. I thought I'd raise these issues with the Health Authority, and the NDP opposition. Neither was of any assistance to us. It must be noted that when I brought all this to the attention of the
official opposition we were given sympathies but no assistance. A few short months later the NDP touted the great bologna caper. That was the issue surrounding the home in Regina that dared serve a resident bologna sandwich. Call me biased but what deserves greater attention between sandwich meats or poor care in LTC?! We were elated when Mom finally got a permanent placement at a Saskatoon LTC home in March of that year.
In writing this I am not seeking vengeance or retribution. I am seeking to better a system that has been neglected for too long by both NDP and liberal SaskParty governments. The thing that scares me the most is my parents' ordeal in this system may happen to others. I fear many of them may go unreported. This is simply no way to treat our seniors! These sort of stories aren't too NDP or too left; they are stories of human suffering going on in our communities. Many may not know that many seniors, just to afford LTC, must legally separate from their spouse to afford the services they require. LTC is income based. There must be a better way.
Have a Great Week!
Ken Grey Leader
Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan