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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

It is very seldom that I've ever let weather events get in the road of jumping in the truck and going places.  I fully intended on attending Crop Production week in Saskatoon as I have for many, many years.  Last Tuesday's rain and snow storm stopped me in my tracks.   The idea of driving in those conditions was too much for his hardened Saskatchewan farm boy.  I'm sure many others felt the same way.    

By all accounts, the show was a tremendous success and a showcase for Saskatchewan agriculture and innovation.  My hat is off to the people that work  so hard to make this happen each and every year in Saskatoon. 

I particularly wanted to see some of the information that was available to producers on the subject of inter-cropping.  This is the growing practice of sowing two different crops together and harvesting a mixture that has a greater potential for monetary reward and building soil health. 

When you combine this with some of the new opportunities developing with cover crops, it is an exciting new development to strengthen our agricultural base.  Combining the livestock sector with these new developments can only make western Canadian agriculture an exciting and profitable place to be for many years to come.

 The PC Party has always been a strong proponent of agricultural diversification and value-adding our agricultural production.  Along with protecting our land base from unscrupulous outside investment schemes, we as a Party have always believed in the entrepreneurial spirit of our farming and ranching families.  One of my great disappointments has been the lack of efforts by our current Sask Party government during the best of economic times to do things like expanding our irrigation acres and expanding our value-added processing.  Irrigation has proven to be one of the cornerstones of value-added processing.  You only have to drive through southern Alberta to view the results of concerted policy initiatives in this area.

Hello everyone - it's now 2018!  Another year has gone steaming by and you wonder where it went.  This last year has been one of extremes as we've gone from intense heat, drought and now bone-chilling cold through the Christmas holidays.  This past Saturday and Sunday have been above zero and you would think that you are living in the best place in North America when you look at what others are experiencing on the east side of the continent.  I guess if we didn't like weather extremes, we wouldn't live here.

So Happy New Year to everyone.  I hope Santa was good to you and your families and you had the opportunity to relax with friends and loved ones and catch up a little on the family time.

Our politics is much like our weather.  You never know what's going to happen until you get up in the morning and get surprised.  The Sask Party leadership contest is grinding its way to a conclusion at the end of this month.  The animosity amongst the participants seems to grow by the day even though they pledge everlasting love to each other every time there is a public debate.

 

Last week, PC Party Executive Director Dale Burnay and I made a two-day trip to the Kindersley constituency to get a feeling for what a post-Bill Boyd era will be like in that constituency.  Except for a five year hiatus, Bill Boyd had been their MLA since 1991.  My observation is that people are really looking forward to a different perspective.  Whether that perspective includes the PC Party will be determined in the upcoming by election and the following general election.

The Kindersley area is not unknown to me because as Saskatchewan's Energy Minister, it was a place I would go to consult with the oil business and to see how technology was being adapted.  The Kindersley area contains a lot of different grades from light to heavy and so it was an area where new technology like horizontal drilling had the ability to make great strides in production.  Driving around that area today, one can certainly see the results of that innovation and hard work.

What I found really troubling though was that along with southeast Saskatchewan, companies are having to flare gas produced alongside oil because there is no pipeline capacity for it or the inability to find other uses.  In fact, I was told that some companies are flaring millions of dollars in gas a year.  This is not good for our economy or our environment. 

You would have thought that a constituency which elected the Sask Party government's Minister of the Economy election after election would have expected some solutions to this waste of a natural resource which could be benefitting all citizens in Saskatchewan.  This same Minister was also responsible for Saskatchewan's power monopoly which during his time of leadership wasted tens of millions of dollars on smart meters and cost overruns at Boundary Dam while our electrical costs continued to rise.

The PC Party put out its policies on the use of waste heat before the last general election in order to get government and individuals thinking about how we could use this resource in a productive manner to benefit our society.  This topic should be an issue in the upcoming by election and for years to come as petroleum production continues to ramp up in this area of our province.  We can never get this resource back once it has been flared off and the by-products end up in our atmosphere for years to come.

The other issue that really jumped out in the Kindersley area and has across the province is the imposition of the 6% sales tax on insurance policies province wide.  This is a very regressive policy in my view and it is a direct result of the waste and mismanagement of the Sask Party government on things like the GTH and the south Regina bypass.

This mixture of flawed Sask Party policy and a lack of care and attention when it came to budgeting has resulted in one deficit budget after another.  In order to balance the budget, the Sask Party government has turned to poorly thought out taxation measures to try and get a handle on the deficit situation.  Even some of the Sask Party leadership contenders have come to the conclusion that this tax must go even though these same people were sitting around the cabinet table when the decision was made to implement the tax.

We have always prided ourselves as a society where achieving things like home ownership was important.  People have been encouraged to work hard and save.  We have also encouraged people to be good stewards of their property by investing in good insurance policies so that in times of mishap, they can rebuild and carry on. 

To think that some seniors on fixed incomes would have to make choices between food on the table and insurance on their home is absolutely ridiculous.  The same can be said for low wage earners who are striving to raise families on  minimum wage jobs.  I am sure that some farm families will rethink the issue of crop insurance coverage because of the amount of tax being paid on that coverage going into what could be another record dry year.  This is bad public policy in my view and it is certainly on the minds of people in the Kindersley area.

Because the next two Mondays fall on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, there will be no commentary.  Joanne and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year.  We hope that your time with family and friends is joyful and that everyone stays safe as they travel across our great province to celebrate this season.

See you in the New Year!

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”.

After 8 years of doing this commentary, I sometimes think that I have witnessed just about all there is in political life in Saskatchewan, Canada and around the world.  My recent three weeks away tells me that you will never see everything in the realm of politics.

Three weeks in a Republican-dominated state like Arizona gets you full exposure to the Donald Trump phenomenon.  There are rabid supporters and also the biggest detractors in that state.  The Governor of Arizona is a right-wing Republican whose state is one of the ones that will lose the most if the NAFTA Agreement is torn up by President Trump. 

 The Governor hosted a reception for the Mexican Ambassador to the United States while I was there which was attended by most of the business and cultural elites of the Phoenix area.  The Governor made it very clear that Mexico was Arizona's biggest trading partner and the relationship was a good one.  This same Governor has made comments about how much he and his state appreciate the tens of millions of dollars which Canadian snowbirds bring to his state each and every year and yet, not one word in public disavowing Mr. Trump and all of the contradictions that go with this man.

Unfortunately, this is the state of politics in the United States of America where the divide between Republicans and Democrats, between the right and the left and the disappearance of commonsense leaves that country in a state of growing hatred among its citizens for each other.  One of the great democracies in the world - the country on which so many have patterned themselves around the globe - is rapidly approaching being politically dysfunctional in my view.

The big debate as I was driving home this past week was whether the federal government would be able to pay its bills because the Members of Congress cannot agree on the most mundane of federal government functions.  At the end of the day, they will probably add a trillion dollars - and that's trillion with a "t" - to the debt that the people of the United States will be responsible to pay for - for generations to come.

Enough about American politics but we know that what happens there whether it be the NAFTA Trade Agreement, contracts for airliners and new fighter jets or Canada's trading relationships with other nations around the world, we Canadians will be influenced about what happens south of the 49th.  Our television sets are full of the ongoing scandals in the American entertainment business and the political world.  Those things are also showing up in Canada. 

I don't think our political system has sunk to the lows that we see across the 49th parallel but each and every day I see politicians and single-issue groups in our province and our country pushing the same agendas.  I think it is really important that as we go through this major transitional period in Saskatchewan where everyone of our political parties is changing its leadership that we all - regardless of political affiliation - be mindful of what kind of leadership we want in the future.

The temptation by individual politicians to succumb to the styles we see exhibited south of the border and in other jurisdictions in Canada in order to achieve personal political power should put everyone on guard.  Those that subscribe to the old adage "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing that matters" is what gets us into predicaments like the GTH land scandal.  Unfortunately, money is at the root of many of the political ills in the United States, in my view, and if we allow it to, it will do the same to our political system here at home.

We must be open and transparent about the monies that enter our political system and who the benefactors are and I hope and pray that as our various political parties chose new leadership that all those with the privilege of voting take this into consideration when they cast their ballots for the next generation of political leadership in Saskatchewan.  Future generations demand that we 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

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

I did not report last week as I was busy investigating the Tower Road Scandal again. The NDP can’t figure out what is going on at Tower Road. We did in February 2016.

Today, I am updating on the Tower Road scandal. Firstly, I am attaching the February 25th, 2016 Media Release of the modern P.C. Party. The PC Party website link to this Media Release can be found at:

https://www.pcsask.ca/news/359-secrets-of-the-wall-government-revealed-in-montreal.

The Release was largely ignored by the Saskatchewan media except for one brave woman. The others should explain why they were not interested in such important news.

Today I am sending you two photos of the land titles map we created showing some of the search results. Open and you will see red, green, and gold.

The green and gold are the Saskatchewan Party colours where speculators made millions. When you see red you see only nine million dollars of the total price tag for moving Tower Road junction 400 meters to the east. That is not the total cost. We are still investigating the red landowner so far we think he is innocent but lucky.

Where you see green and gold, the green is the land the Sask. Party government bought from speculators for over nine million dollars. In gold is the land the speculators sub-divided after the tax payers bought the green and built them a free service road.

I will give you details in a future report. I just want you to get the ugly pictures to consider when you get the next report. So far we can prove forty-three million dollars spent on East Bypass land without secret expropriation costs. Yesterday, the Minister irresponsible used an eighty million dollar figure. 

The total Bypass costs have now gone over the two billion dollar mark.

 Grant Schmidt - P.C. Party President

Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning Commentary or the President’s Report. 

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”.

 The PC Party’s Purpose – Changing the World

 

I am aware that our Leader’s Monday Morning Commentary is circulated beyond the P.C. Party membership. As P.C. Party President, I must target this first report to our membership. If you are a political observer or one of my enemies, you may find the report useful.

I thank the Party for re-electing me as the volunteer Party President at our November Annual meeting. Our Leader, Rick Swenson is also a volunteer Leader who is taking an unpaid vacation.

From this week forward, I will try to write a President’s Report each week. When our Leader returns from his unpaid vacation I may not report each week.

  In 2018, I will spend less time helping people locally and more time as Party President. I am pleased to have received a mandate to be an activist President to build a modern progressive conservative party.  Future reports will address that mandate.

 A President’s warning to all conservatives, you cannot build a modern conservative party by looking in the rear view mirror. To move forward you have to have your vision forward.

 On November 4th, 2017, our P.C. Party resolved to become a modern progressive conservative party. All three of those words have equal weight.

 Contrary to the narrative of the left, progressive is not limited to liberal or socialist. The progressive conservative party was formed in 1942. A dictionary definition of progressive reads as follows:

 “(1)     interested in or using new ideas in order to advance to do something better.

  (2)      favouring moderate social or political reform.”

 On November 4th the modern P.C. Party adopted a mission to change the world; starting in Saskatchewan. Power for greed and personal gain is not acceptable in the modern P.C. Party. The members approved a code of conduct for all members and employees.

The party agreed to formulate a foundation policy based on an incentivist agenda by considering incentives in all policy formation.

The party is concerned that not all citizens are being given the opportunity to achieve and work to their ability. There is a lack of leadership and incentives to achieve that goal.

In this province we have dreamers on the left; greedy fools on the right (flipping land and mismanaging a boom). You, the people, are stuck in the middle not knowing what to do.

We, the modern P.C. Alternative are stuck in the middle with you; however, we know what to do. The challenge is getting the people’s attention to convince them we have practical new solutions.

In the coming weeks, I will explain the incentivist foundation policy we are developing. I will advocate that incentivism as a policy is an alternative to socialism or capitalism.  

I know reading about scandal and mismanagement would be more interesting. We are always investigating bad government and will have plenty of scandal to report in 2018. We have documents which prove political interference on the Regina Bypass. I have spoken to the RCMP about this issue.

The role of Government is to solve problems. It will be a challenge to clean up the Sask Party’s mess.

Grant Schmidt - P.C. Party President

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

Commentary or the President’s Report.  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”.

This past week brought about a number of shocks to our system.  Old Man Winter arrived much earlier than usual and with a real mean streak.  When the thermometer gets down to around -20 celsius, the wind is blowing and you've got snow drifts up around your knees, it really makes you think about what the next five or six months might be like.  Saskatchewan has been really spoiled the last few winters and you and I and my cows have forgotten what winter can be really like when it starts as early as Halloween night.  Let's hope for some sunny and warm days ahead before we know it's here to stay.

Another big announcement this week was from our monopoly electricity provider, SaskPower.  SaskPower has decided that they probably won't go ahead with any more carbon capture systems at Saskatchewan's coal-fired power plants as they are too expensive.  Surprise, surprise!  Another one of Brad Wall's legacy projects which has cost the taxpayers of this province dearly will be nothing more than a grand experiment which you and I will pay for on our electrical bills for the foreseeable future.  Whether it will take the next 30 years to pay for it like the Regina bypass, it's hard to say.  It may simply be mothballed as SaskPower moves on to a new vision. 

It was one of the things that the PC Party at its AGM this past weekend talked about.  If you remember during the last election, the PC Party campaigned on using waste heat in our province to do multiple things.  One of those things was to use flair gas which currently simply pollutes our atmosphere to generate electricity and to provide heat to grow food.    

I am pleased that SaskPower has just begun receiving electricity from a flair gas generation project in the Kerrobert area.  Southeast Saskatchewan could easily supply enough flair gas for some type of electrical generation.  Coal gasification has been talked about for a very long time.  We must find ways to use our resources in a smarter and ecologically friendly manner in order to maintain valuable jobs and income in southeast Saskatchewan.  We need to do it in a more cost-effective manner than the CO2 capture thing at Boundary Dam which it appears SaskPower is already writing off after $1.4 billion of expenditure.

It was great to get together with candidates and their supporters from the 2016 election and look at the impact the PC Party made in that election campaign.  The GTH waste and mismanagement cannot be hidden under the carpet of Sask Party secrecy any longer.  The Regina bypass expenditures will be questioned long into the future.  Health spending accountability is becoming a reality with the disappearance of the regions and the true debt of the province of Saskatchewan has been revealed to the taxpayers because the PC Party would not let it go unrevealed in the past provincial election. 

If anyone thinks that smaller third parties can't make a difference, just look at the record of the PC Party in 2016 and the very capable 18 candidates who stood for election.  This will probably be my last AGM as Leader of the Party and I couldn't be more proud of the people I have served with and the fight that we have carried on, on behalf of the people of this province to bring accountability back to the government and some long-term vision for the future of our province.

I will not be doing this commentary for the next four weeks as I take a little break from politics and farming.  President Grant Schmidt and others will be filling in with reports and ideas.  I hope you take the opportunity to check out some of new ideas and thoughts that he and others will bring to this space.  See you in December.

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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