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Progressive Conservative Team

I have a question for all of you that view this commentary. How do you know when it's really the dog days of summer? Is it because the weather is really warm day after day? Is it because you've got time to kick back and take the kids places? Is it because you and your significant other have a summer holiday planned? It's probably all of the above but you really know its summer and people aren't really paying attention to their government because now is when our family of crown corporations releases their financial statements. This is when it is revealed how much money we took from Peter to pay Paul. Peter being us taxpayers and utility users and Paul (no aspersions cast) being the government of the day. We now know that the crowns will pay over a quarter billion dollars to our Sask Party government in dividends. Some of this - plain and simple - is backdoor taxation. This is money that is necessary because of bad decision making by our current SP government. You can put all the lipstick you want on a pig but at the end of the day, it's still a pig and if it wasn't, all of this information would be released while the Legislative Assembly is sitting every spring. After all, isn't that when we do release the budget and talk about all things financial for the well-being of our province? Evidentially not when it comes to crown dividends. Speaking of crowns, the biggest one of all and their Minister Mr. Duncan have now confirmed what most of us have expected for the last several years and that is there will be no more carbon capture units installed at Boundary Dam power station. That's because the current technology is economically unsustainable. In other words, the $1.4 billion that Brad Wall spent on this legacy project doesn't work. Surprise! Surprise! It's too bad we had to wait until Brad Wall exited politics before SaskPower could get on with transitioning our power stations from coal to natural gas. SaskEnergy in their annual report said that we might even get a break this winter because natural gas long-term contracts are at historical lows. Hopefully this means you will see less and less gas being flared off and polluting our atmosphere because we will begin to use this resource to generate power and hopefully, keep our power bills in a reasonable place. Of course that is all dependent on our Sask Party government not ordering SaskPower to do things like buying $24.5 million worth of land in the GTH in order to pay the GTH's bills so that the public doesn't see another Sask Party government boondoggle. All of the things that I have mentioned in the above commentary are the reasons why the crown corporation financial reporting and decision making should only be done when yours and mine Legislative Assembly is in session. After all, isn't that what government is all about? Making choices about how we conduct our affairs and how we spend the income that all of us provide to government in order to bring about a good and just society. The idea that politicians would want to bring forward these very important financial reports during a time when no one is paying attention is mind boggling. It is also, in my view, disrespectful to all of the people that work in these crowns and provide us with so many essential services. People's ire gets directed at them rather than their political masters. That is simply unacceptable. The solution, my friends, lies in our hands. We can allow this farcical situation to continue or we can demand change and that change will be electing officials who do not hide behind the dog days of summer. Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning Commentary. Please send your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address. Don’t forget to check out our website at pcsask.ca. These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons
For those of us living in the beautiful province of Saskatchewan, extreme weather conditions are a fact of life. Summer is fully upon us now with most of the coming week forecasting temperatures in the low 30's. I grew up on a family farm that has had a commercial haying component in it for most of my life. You learn how to tolerate hot weather when you are out in a hay field for most of July. I think Saskatchewan people will be better prepared than what we have seen in the province of Quebec where the deaths of dozens of people have been attributed to a summer heat wave. It's hard to imagine that happening in today's society and let's hope that we all watch out for people in our communities over the coming week that may be susceptible to heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses. Speaking of tragedies, one of the final pieces of the Humboldt Bronco's bus crash has now been revealed. Everyone in this province has wondered how such a tragedy could occur on our highway system. Late last week, the RCMP arrested the truck driver involved in the accident and formally charged him with dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing injury. All of us who have seen pictures of the crash site knew there was something horribly wrong for this tragedy to occur. The rest of this story will play out in the court system as is the right of every person in Canada to have a fair and reasoned trial by a judge or by a judge and jury of our peers. These charges will not bring back the lost loved ones on that bus on that fateful day or take away the injuries that will last a life time with some of the survivors. Hopefully, it will bring some closure and hopefully, it will spur government to assess highway intersections across this province. Hopefully, there will be priorization of available funds to improve this vital component of our transportation system. This brings me to my final comment in this morning's commentary. There must be a focus in the coming years on transportation and the role it plays in our economy. The current trade dispute with Donald Trump's America, the unfolding of a potentially world changing trade war between the United States and China and the emergence of a growing middle class around the world means that the ability to move our goods and services in an expeditious manner is crucial to this province's well being. Quorum Corp, which is the company hired by the Federal government to monitor Canada's grain transportation system, reported last week a huge carry out of last year's crop because our rail system failed again last winter. Most of that carry out will occur in Saskatchewan. That will result in the loss of billions of dollars in our communities. The latest attempt to buy out the exiting ownership of the rail line to Churchill, Manitoba has failed and the window to repair that rail line from flood damage is closing once again. There are still no time tables established for the Trans Mountain Pipeline and no one has attempted to resurrect the Energy East initiative to move western oil to eastern Canadian refineries and markets. In my view, the vision of all future Saskatchewan governments must be focused on working with the private sector, with other governments and with our existing partnerships to deal with our land locked status. We are seeing increasing truck traffic on our roads and highways every year because trucks have more flexibility in moving product in a timely manner and give the exporter of products more flexibility to make sales and meet deadlines. This increased traffic also has a huge cost attached to it. Those roads and highways must be repaired, they must be upgraded and they must ensure safety for our citizens so that we don't witness more tragic accidents as we have this last spring. Seeing our rail lines once again being choked with oil tanker cars at the expense of other commodities does not solve the problem. Having two monopoly railroads does not solve the problem. Having only a few access points to American railroads and ports does not solve the problem and spending $2 billion on 40 miles of highway around the City of Regina definitely does not solve the problem. It is time that we collectively stamp our feet as citizens and as taxpayers and demand from our political leaders at all levels of government that they start priorizing our resources to solve these problems or Saskatchewan will be forever at the mercy of horrific accidents, stagnant economies and a future less bright than what it should be. In the last election campaign, the PC Party tried to get the discussion going on solving these problems. We talked about enhancing the short line rail system. We talked about a better bypass route and we talked about upgrading our resources here. I am positive our new leadership will continue to do so. Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning Commentary. Please send your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address. Don’t forget to check out our website at pcsask.ca. These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

   On Sunday, I took the opportunity to go to Regina and celebrate Canada Day with my oldest son's family. Like thousands of others, we headed down to Wascana Park to take in the plywood boat races and watch some of the other events being put on by various groups. We were joined by thousands of others in what turned into a very beautiful July 1st in Saskatchewan. While down there, we wandered through the tepee village which has been set up by the various First Nations in Saskatchewan. My grandchildren had never been around tepees before and they were excited to take a look at these iconic structures which have been a part of Plains Indigenous culture for many centuries. Unfortunately, there wasn't one made out of animal hides like in the old days but I suppose that would be something very rare and treasured by the various Bands in Saskatchewan. I was very pleased to meet the young lady who many of us have seen on tv acting as a spokesperson for the groups that have been camped out there over the last several months. I was curious to find out exactly what some of the issues are that were being presented to some of Saskatchewan's Cabinet Ministers in a Monday meeting at the Treaty Four Centre in Fort Qu'Appelle. As I have mentioned in previous commentaries, I had the honour and privilege of being Saskatchewan's Minister responsible for negotiating the first Treaty Land Entitlements in Saskatchewan's history. That was the culmination of many years of negotiations and required that all of the various entities concerned had to give a little in order to reach consensus. The results were historic. After walking through the encampment and visiting with the abovementioned Indigenous spokesperson, I really can't see what all the fuss has been about. I have no idea why our Sask Party government has not wanted to meet with these folks sooner rather than later and why people were attempting to have this small protest village removed from the Wascana grounds before Canada Day celebrations took place there. I saw nothing offensive to anyone's sensibilities and certainly the thousands of people milling through the grounds of Wascana which is a provincial entity to be enjoyed by all Saskatchewan citizens didn't find anything offensive with the tepees and the people supporting their various causes. In my view, the provincial Legislative building which was directly across the street should be considered neutral ground for every citizen of this province. It is not the exclusive domain of any political party and should not be a place where politicians hide out from the people who elected them. Unfortunately, this seems to be the case with this particular group who thought they had to go all the way out to Fort Qu'Appelle in order to find neutral ground in which to bring their grievances forward. Our Sask Party government is becoming afraid of its own shadow and seems to be pandering to its base of support in order to survive electorally. This is an extremely dangerous game which does nothing for a province which is beset with challenges from the outside like we have not seen in many, many years. World trade issues which affect our agriculture and resource commodities are extremely troubling. Our inability to get the Federal government focused on the many transportation issues with our exports has the potential to truly land lock us and drive down our standard of living. If we don't talk to all of our own citizens about the challenges within our society and how we meet those challenges in a reasonable and cost-effective way, Saskatchewan will truly become a place where people will choose not to live. We cannot solve all of these issues overnight but we must talk about them. I am glad that I took the time to go with my family and particularly with my grandchildren and experience Canada Day on the grounds of my provincial capital and walk through a part of our cultural heritage and celebrate our diversity. Once again, happy Canada Day to all of you and let's grow this country and this province together. Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning Commentary. Please send your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address. These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

I finally finished seeding last week. What a relief! The weirdness of Saskatchewan's weather and my three-year layoff from planting crops have made this a very challenging year so far. It seems like we went from winter to summer overnight, from drought to heavy downpours which now means seeding, spraying and haying are all happening in the same 10-day window. It's a good thing that I've had the stress of politics in my life so that I can handle the stress that comes with farming or maybe it's the other way around. It's a long ways until harvest so I guess we will see how life unfolds. This past weekend, it was great to take a short break and head up to Watrous, Saskatchewan for the first of the PC Party's leadership forums in advance of the Party's convention on November 3rd. I joined with other PCs Friday evening for some socializing, some discussion on policy and current political happenings in Saskatchewan. I haven't been to Manitou Beach for quite some time and it was awful to see how the flooding of that lake has affected the beautiful area along the shoreline. Unrestricted drainage has huge consequences for this jewel of a place in the middle of Saskatchewan. Saturday morning bright and early at 7 AM was a round of golf with some of my fellow participants and then back to our great facility at the Watrous Golf Club to hear Paul Carroll, the first declared candidate for leaders of the PC Party, outline some of his ideas on building the Party and some policy initiatives which Paul thinks will help Saskatchewan get back on track. Paul took questions from the audience and then I and President Grant Schmidt joined him at the front of the room to do a question and answer on all things political in the province of Saskatchewan. Congratulations to Paul for being the first in and leading the way. This was a very good event and my congratulations to Vice President Glen Leason and Executive Director Dave Bucsis for the great job in organizing the event. Please stay tuned for other events as this race unfolds. I'm sure many of you have seen the pictures of the large rail derailment of oil tanker cars in the US Midwest. This derailment really stands out because the train is in the middle of what looks like a lake. There is a lot of localized flooding going on in this area because of heavy rain events. The railroad track is the only thing sticking up out of the water in the entire aerial photograph. The train looks like it is nearly a mile long. All oil cars carrying oil to a refinery somewhere in the US. You can bet that because the oil is Canadian the environmental lobby will say it came from the oil sands. Because some of it has escaped into the river system, it will be a news event for weeks to come. Because it is Canadian oil and President Trump is on a Canada-bashing spree, we will become the whipping boy for all sorts of interest groups in the US going into the midterm elections. Sending a loaded train down those tracks given the surrounding conditions in my view is unconsciousable and criminal. Somebody should be fired for letting it happen. A buried pipeline would be far easier to mitigate and to clean up. Those railcars should be carrying grain, potash and other commodities that wouldn't pollute any river system across a freely traded North American continent. The fact that they are being forced to transport oil that way is a sign of failure by politicians on both sides of our border. My final comment of the day is on the hurry-up, slapped together plan unfolded by our Sask Party Premier this last week on fixing the equalization formula. There is no question the equalization formula needs to be renegotiated. Non-renewable resources from western Canada are being lumped in with other parts of the equalization formula while things like hydro power and its dividends are not being lumped into equalization and this necessitates badly needed changes. Canada and Saskatchewan have a huge interaction because of things like our reliance on transportation which is federally regulated and our large and growing First Nations population which the federal government funds in a huge way through health, education and housing. The rewriting of the funding arrangements for key areas like this is extremely important. I would suggest that Premier Moe's hurry up on the equalization file is more about picking a fight with Quebec and the federal government just in advance of the Premier's conference in order to take people's minds off the poor performance of his Sask Party government and that of his predecessor Brad Wall. I don't know if it is coincidence or not but the amount of money under Mr. Moe's formula which Saskatchewan would receive seems to be close to the amount of money that he is going to be short on his deficit projections. It has always been one of the easiest political games to play when you can find the appropriate outside entities to castigate and campaign against rather than your own tired and miserable record at home. Brad Wall had 10 years to seriously negotiate on non-renewable resources as did NDP Premiers before him. I believe Scott Moe's simple math is a non-starter. We need a Premier with some long-term vision and long-term goals sitting down with other Premiers and Prime Ministers to negotiate a long-term solution for all Canadians. That is why I encourage all of you to start participating in the PC Party's leadership process. Otherwise we are simply stuck with politicians whose only focus is their own 4-year election cycle and their parties survivability to the detriment of all of us. Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning Commentary. Please send your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address. Don’t forget to check out our website at pcsask.ca. These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

It was announced last week that Saskatchewan's minimum wage is going to increase by 10 cents an hour for the coming year. Saskatchewan has been near the bottom as it relates to minimum wages across Canada. There are a lot of arguments around the minimum wage and whether it should be seen as a starter salary or as a wage that can sustain a family and a livelihood. It does have some affect on the viability of businesses in the service industry and other areas where costs cannot immediately be passed on to the consuming public. I know I would have a terrible time trying to live on a minimum wage job. Obviously, government policy and the health of our economy affects the ability of this wage to rise along with all other salaries in the province of Saskatchewan. One area that seems to be totally removed from this whole scenario is the one where political parties reward their faithful. The recent Sask Party leadership race which made Scott Moe the new Premier is a good example of this. The loser to Mr. Moe on the last ballot was Alanna Koch. It was announced this last week that she will receive a severance package of $346,000. You have to ask the question, "How can this possibly be?" This possibly can be because we, the voters and taxpayers, have allowed our political system to run amuck. Back in the day when the Sask Party was the Official Opposition, and Brad Wall took over its leadership, Ms Koch became one of his key insiders and organizers. She was a political hack as it is understood in political parlance. When Mr. Wall became Premier of Saskatchewan, her reward was to become Deputy Minister of Agriculture and the very big salary that goes along with it. Ms Koch is a very competent individual and well versed in agricultural issues albeit with some very strongly held views on certain issues like the dismantling of the CWB. A year and a half ago when Mr. Wall's mismanagement and bad decision making necessitated a very tough budget, the very political Ms Koch was brought directly into the Premier's operation as head of the civil service and Deputy Minister to the Premier. Once again, a very partisan person put into a position that should not have been in my view held by a political hack. Of course a nice pay raise came along with the new job. Make no question about it, Alanna Koch's job was to bend the public service to deliver Brad Wall's bad news and trying to salvage his political legacy. I believe it was also done to give one of Mr. Wall's key political insiders the best shot at being his potential successor. I have often heard the criticism around the province that Ms Koch was the first Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Deputy Minister to the Premier without a university degree and was only there because of her political connections. Whether that is a valid criticism or not - I don't know but according to the new Premier, he had offered Ms Koch other positions in government besides the one she took a leave of absence from in order to campaign for the Premier's job. She evidentially decided not to take any of those job opportunities and wished to go back to the private sector which begs the question, why are we taxpayers than paying $346,000 in severance? If there was another job in government offered and refused because Ms Koch did not wish to work for Mr. Moe then so be it. There should not be any severance. Ms Koch because of her long political past and very close association with Mr. Wall and his inner circle, she obviously knows where all the Sask Party bodies are buried and as a result, the taxpayer golden handshake is needed to keep all things harmonious in the Sask Party house that Moe built. So much for the pledge to begin "doing things differently in Saskatchewan" that we heard about in the recent Sask Party leadership contest. I believe this sets a precedence of a new low in political patronage in the province of Saskatchewan. It is time for all political parties to start setting the bar higher and clean up their acts. Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning Commentary. Please send your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address. Don’t forget to check out our website at pcsask.ca. These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

 PC PARTY OF SASKATCHEWAN

MONDAY MORNING COMMENTARY BY LEADER RICK SWENSON

JUNE 11, 2018

I remember a cartoon in a Calgary newspaper back when I was Saskatchewan's Energy Minister and oil was trading for $15.00 a barrel.  It was a picture of a Calgary oilman down on his knees and obviously praying.  The caption read "Please God, let there be another oil boom and I promise and I won't screw this one up like I did the last one." 

My wording may be a little off because that was many years ago but I think you get the idea.  This seems to be the philosophy of our current Sask Party government.  Since the Legislative Assembly quits its daily sitting a little over a week ago, we have been inundated with bad news.  It's funny that's how it works out isn't it?

I always thought our Parliamentary system was for learned and dedicated citizens to meet, talk about and solve our problems.  Instead, our politicians seem to avoid doing exactly that.  We have learned that Saskatchewan's unemployment rate is up significantly.  Out-migration which is how the Sask Party government has always wanted to be judged on is up to the point where way more people are leaving than coming to our province.  The home buyers market has a way more housing available than the marketplace wants right now.  Our post-secondary educational institutions are cutting or eliminating their athletic programs because of budget cutbacks forced upon them by the provincial government. 

Now finally, it appears that the report by Manitoba's Justice Department on the financial mismanagement with the GTH land scandal has been back in the hands of Saskatchewan's RCMP since early April.  When is the public going to finally get the answers they need from this RCMP investigation of the people involved in the GTH debacle?  I would think there is enough material in the above two short paragraphs to keep our $100,000 a year elected politicians  working for at least another month to try and find out why Saskatchewan is having these issues and what we can do about remedies both short-term and long-term.

During the last provincial election, the PC Party put forward an idea of how to begin addressing some of the problems with shut in and abandon oil and gas wells in Saskatchewan.  The Provincial Auditor released her findings on this issue last week and pointed out that Saskatchewan has a multi-billion dollar problem in this regard and the provincial government has been showing no leadership while at the same time, taking as much revenue out of our oil resource as possible to satisfy their huge spending deficits.  9,000 potential abandon wells is a very bad news item for Saskatchewan.  It is a huge item for land holders to deal with.  It is also lost economic opportunity. 

The Auditor also pointed out that a lot of Saskatchewan's water problems particularly when it comes to illegal drainage have not been addressed for a very long time.  The Quill Lakes and the massive flooding there are a prime example of this policy of looking the other way. 

We will not solve our problems by not only talking about them and facing reality of what's there and we will not solve our problems if the only concern shown by our politicians is how they manage the four-year election cycle.  Many of these issues can be addressed by taking small concrete steps and doing them one at a time just like we do around our own homes, our businesses, our farms and our community organizations.  It just takes the will to organize yourself, your employees and your fellow volunteers.  That will get the job done over the long haul instead of being like the oilman on his knees praying for another oil boom.

Our government needs to get a different attitude or else we will never get off the boom and bust cycle and we won't stop wasting taxpayer's money on the political legacy projects of politicians with big ideas.

Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning

Commentary.  Please send your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address.  Don’t forget to check out our website at pcsask.ca.

             

These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

This last week was a good news-bad news week for me personally and for the province politically. The good news on the Swenson farm is that we have had over 2 inches of rain in the last week.  It was so badly needed.  The bad news on the Swenson farm is that I'm not done seeding. 

Two break downs cost me a day and a half and that's what it would have taken to finish off the seeding. The good news is when I finally get the peas and the rest of the flax sown, they will jump out of the ground right away instead of laying in dry dirt.  I'm sure many other farmers are in the same boat.  I know there are many across Saskatchewan who are still looking for rain and they are really beginning to worry about pasture for their cattle and growing enough crop to pay the bills.  Let's keep hoping for rain in June because the summer forecast is hot and dry.

On the political front, last week's announcement by the Federal government to build the Kinder Morgan pipeline is good news. Having the taxpayers build it is the least preferred option.  I can tell you from my days as Energy Minister in Saskatchewan that having taxpayers invest in pipelines instead of shareholders is not a great option and should only be used as a last resort.

Unfortunately, Mr. Horgan and his Green Party allies in British Columbia have placed their political well-being ahead of Canada's interests so my congratulations to the Prime Minister for making this happen. It is time to demonstrate leadership on our energy resources and their value to Canadians. 

I attended the last sitting of the Legislature last Thursday and unfortunately, the rest of my commentary is bad news for Saskatchewan taxpayers. SaskPower has announced that the carbon capture plant at Boundary Dam is financially unsustainable.  Surprise!  Surprise!  Another one of Brad Wall's legacy projects at $1.4 billion and counting is not working.  It has not been working for years.  SaskPower just couldn't say so because of who sat in the Premier's chair. 

Premier Moe announced that he is going to Washington this coming week to help lobby against Trump's steel tariffs. I wonder if he is going to use the same PR firm that Mr. Wall used.  Remember the one we hired for over $400,000 a year when Mr. Wall and his Senator-friend Lindsey Graham were touting the virtues of Mr. Wall's carbon capture plans?  I wonder if this same firm contributes to the Senator's re-election efforts or was it just about Mr. Wall having big name friends from Washington, DC that he could parade around his plant at Estevan?  I don't think we have seen a lot of return on investment for our money other than some nice dinners for Mr. Wall and his friends.

I watched from the Gallery as the NDP Opposition asked Premier Moe if he would commit to investigating all of Bill Boyd's actions while he was in government. The Premier was evasive on the question.  I believe the Chinese government's involvement in the Yancoal potash venture should be added to the long list of Mr. Boyd's endeavours under investigation because it now appears senior public servants with ties to China were advising Mr. Boyd prior to his last visit as an individual selling his irrigation for citizenship scheme to wealthy Chinese citizens.

Let's hope next week is a good news week. Let's hope that the wildfires in northern Saskatchewan get under control.  Let's hope the G7 Summit in Quebec City convinces Mr. Trump to regain his economic sanity.  And let's hope the Petro Canada refinery in Edmonton finally comes back on stream so that we are not paying these outrageous prices for gasoline and diesel fuel.  Maybe those are all just hopeful wishes of an optimistic Progressive Conservative that knows we can do better. 

Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning

Commentary. Please send your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address.                  

These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

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