There are a lot of emotions running through my thought process this morning as I start what will be the last regular Monday Morning Commentary by Rick Swenson, Leader of the PC Party of Saskatchewan.
When I started this commentary many, many years ago, it was on a trial basis to try and help invigorate the small membership of the PC Party who had recently come out of a self-imposed hiatus and to give them a forum to express views on politics in Saskatchewan. Well the weeks went by and then the months and then the years and the general elections with many by elections thrown in for good measure.
Saskatchewan has gone through an oil boom, a potash boom and some of the best commodity prices agriculture has ever seen. We witnessed tremendous growth in our urban areas driven by huge amounts of home building, condo building and new retail shopping opportunities. The oil boom disappeared several years ago, hundreds of potash miners are laid off and you can't sell your home for anywhere close to what you paid for it a few years ago. Obviously there has been a lot to comment on.
Through all of this, and many other events that affect the everyday lives of Saskatchewan people, it is important for our political process to stay current and relevant to the average voter. I've always felt this is best achieved by having many players in the political system with a broad range of ideology and approaches to problem solving. Political success is often only measured by the number of seats that you have in the Legislature or the House of Commons. That is not a fair assessment of the health of our political environment.
We all know that our first past-the-post electoral system often rewards political parties with huge majorities even though the majority of the voters don't vote that way. There is always a strong temptation in Canada to relegate ourselves to a two-party system as is the case with the country to the south of us. We are certainly witnessing on a daily basis the ills that are wracking that system and the voters it is supposed to serve. I had always hoped this commentary would prevent that situation from being the "norm" in Saskatchewan.
The other thing that I had hoped this commentary would achieve was the introduction of new thoughts and ideas to make Saskatchewan a better place in which to live. You have heard me lament many times about what I see as a lacking of long-term vision for Saskatchewan's prosperity being replaced with the short-sightedness of four year election cycles. Our current government is a prime example. Last week's Throne Speech - the first offered up by new Premier Moe - is another example of playing to your electoral base with nothing for the future. He learned well from his predecessor.
So I would like to end my commentaries on a positive note. Last weekend columnist Murray Mandryk of the Regina Leader Post wrote an article on the GTH comparing it to the Jurassic Park movie where the T-Rex is chasing a jeep driven by Scott Moe, Brad Wall and with Bill Boyd hanging out the back end. They are trying their best not to be eaten by the T-Rex as was their lawyer in the previous scene. The GTH controversy and waste of taxpayer's money will only come to an end two ways. Either the T-Rex will catch the jeep and eat the occupants or they will find some way to put it back in its pen - a pen by the way that was first opened by myself and PC Party many years ago.
I think it's incumbent upon all of us to find ways out of this mess and salvage our taxpayer dollars. SaskPower owns over 130 acres in the GTH because they were forced to put up $24.5 million to pay for Bill Boyd's land dealings. SaskPower needs to diversify how we generate electricity so that Saskatchewan can remain competitive and greener in the future. We are facing a carbon tax primarily because of coal consumption to generate electricity.
They are never going to build an office building on that land but what they could do is create an opportunity for people, companies, academic institutions and crown corporations to have a center of electrical opportunity set up at the GTH. A place where, for instance, a proponent of solar generation could set up a demo and get patched into the grid before going elsewhere in the province. A place where the use of waste heat could be used to generate electricity and power greenhouse vegetable production. A place where new and innovative wind turbines could be set up and monitored for their efficiency.
The City of Regina last weekend just went through the exercise of identifying all the ways that the city could be self-sufficient in its energy needs in the next 30 years. There will be a motion coming before their council tonight dealing with that proposal. Yes I know this idea would take longer than a four-year election cycle to implement but Saskatchewan must move forward for the health of our economy and the health of our citizens. We can be a leader in developing a greener world and at the same time, continue to feed the world.
On that note, it has been a pleasure, a challenge and an honour to write this commentary. I wish to thank the various executives of the PC Party who have given me this privilege over the years and I sincerely hope that the new leadership of the Party finds ways to keep engaging Saskatchewan people in thinking about our future well beyond the next election.
Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.