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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

A major policy proposal of the PC Party in the last election campaign was the elimination of the regional health authorities and the return of ministerial accountability and responsibility to health care. Along with that, we proposed the establishment of local quality care boards who would be elected by their peers at the same time as municipal councils were elected. We felt it was imperative that health spending be returned to the Legislative Assembly which should be the ultimate form of fiscal accountability in our province.

The Sask Party government during the election campaign basically made no comment on health care. The billion dollar deficit which the PC Party predicted came true and the Sask Party finally decided to act on health care reform. They announced the elimination of the regional health authorities but instead of ministerial accountability, they determined that a single health authority would be put in place to oversee the management and spending of health delivery in this province.

I think we were all willing to give them the benefit of the doubt both in tackling the huge budget deficits this government created by its bad choices and also because we all wanted to see patient-first care improved in this province. Finally after many months we get the announcement late last week about the new health authority.

This commentary is a day late because I took the opportunity to attend the Saskatchewan Stock Growers annual meeting. Their first day is always devoted to guest speakers and topics which relate to the cattle business in many different forms.

There is a very strong movement within the livestock sector to be environmentally sound managers of their entire operations. The Saskatchewan Stock Growers organization is certainly championing this change in how the cattle business conducts its day-to-day affairs. I think most people in the livestock sector are very much aware of the larger public's thoughts on animal welfare, bio-diversity, species at risk and the issues around the safety of the food we eat each and every day. There were presenters on all of these topics yesterday. The Stock Growers are to be congratulated for bringing all of this information forward.

It was good to see at this most recent Sask Party fundraising dinner in Regina that both the attendees and the people protesting the Sask Party agenda were able to do so in a civil manner. Our Sask Party Premier seems to have found a dose of humility and has started to accept the fact that governing can be a tough business.

He made one statement last week that I thought might be a watershed comment. He said that his government should be held accountable for all of their actions over the last ten years. I have never believed that the frustration and anger we are seeing today across Saskatchewan has only come about because of the most recent spring budget.

My first comments today are to offer congratulations to two Saskatchewan politicians who strutted their stuff on the national stage over the past weekend. The first congrat goes to Andrew Scheer - the newly elected leader of the Federal Conservative Party and the first Saskatchewanian to hold that position since John Diefenbaker. Mr. Scheer's come-from-behind victory is a testament to his ability to resonate with conservatives across the country. He wasn't everyone's first choice but obviously was on most people's ballots and therefore was able to overcome Mr. Bernier's lead on the previous 12 ballots. Hopefully he will be the strong opposition voice that we all need to keep Mr. Trudeau's government in line and listening to Canadians.

My second congrat goes out to Brad Trost who defied the pundants expectations of his campaign by placing a strong fourth throughout the balloting. Mr. Trost very effectively used his connections across Canada with various groups of social conservatives to sell a lot of memberships and raise significant campaign funds and obviously convinced people to get out and vote. Hopefully Mr. Trost's political skills can be put to good use by the new leader in presenting a strong alternative for Canadians.

It certainly wasn't the warmest May long weekend but I think conditions allowed people to get out in their yards, go camping and start to enjoy the wonderful Saskatchewan landscape. In farm country, however, this is a time of seeding and long days. This is also attempting catch up on all the jobs that didn't get done last fall because of all the wet weather. It appears that we have gone through this long weekend with no major incidents in our provincial and regional parks which is great to hear and hopefully the message against drinking and driving will continue through the summer months so we can all enjoy travelling the roads of Saskatchewan.

The spring legislative session wrapped up this last Thursday and I'm sure most of the Sask Party government was glad to escape from what has been an ordeal of bad news, mixed messaging and poor implementation by most of the Ministers of the Sask Party government. I thought the addition of Ryan Meili might have given the NDP opposition a major boost in their ability to hold the government accountable. Unfortunately, question period in my view still lacked the pointed questioning necessary of the government in order that we taxpayers can get answers to some badly delivered Sask Party programs.

This past weekend, Joanne and I had the opportunity to travel to Medicine Hat for a family event. I believe I mentioned in this commentary exactly 1 year ago about having the experience of stopping at a greenhouse on Sunday morning and buying fresh vegetables. We did the same thing this Sunday morning after leaving my sister-in-law's house in the south end of Medicine Hat.

You simply drive into the greenhouse operation where they have a small attached structure no larger than your average garden shed. There is no attendant there to serve you. You simply select from the various types of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and lettuce. This particular one also had farm fresh eggs for purchase. Everything is pre-priced and pre-packaged. You simply drop your money into the box attached to the wall - all strictly on the honour system. I didn't notice a security camera but apparently there is one somewhere in the building.

There was a steady stream of shoppers stopping by and this is just one of many greenhouses in the area with the same set up. This begs the question ... why hasn't our government taken a serious look at the PC Party's proposal from the last election campaign to use waste heat sources across Saskatchewan to start a new industry growing our own fruits and vegetables? I believe the demand is there and that people would definitely support locally grown products. Talk about reducing our carbon footprint!

If there is one good thing about going through tougher economic times, it's an opportunity for all of us to look at how we spend our disposable income and also makes us pay more attention to what our various levels of government are doing with our tax dollars.

We have certainly seen some dramatic changes to government thinking in the last few months and in reality, they are only doing what many of us in society have had to do over the last few years. Most of us can't run large deficits like government does.

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