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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

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.

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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”.

 

This last week was a big one in Saskatchewan politics.  The opening of the Saskatchewan Legislature occurred last Wednesday and Executive Director Dale Burnay and myself took the opportunity to attend along with hundreds of other Saskatchewan citizens.  All of those folks were not crammed into the Legislative Assembly Chamber as 90% of the people attending were out on the west lawn protesting against the actions of their government. 

In our democratic society, if you don't like the actions of your elected government you have the ability to conduct a peaceful protest.  In some societies, that is a very regular occurrence as we are reminded on a nightly basis watching our newscast.   In Saskatchewan, it has been a rare event except for the last year.

The Sask Party government's badly managed budget process over the last year has brought about many public displays of displeasure.  The one at the Legislative Assembly last Wednesday was just a continuation of frustration with the Sask Party government. 

In an attempt to placate some of this anger, the Premier announced the day before the opening that he was going to repeal Bill 40 - the legislation that allowed the Sask Party government to sell 49% of any crown corporation and make us believe that it wasn't a step in privatizing the crowns.  Mr. Wall claims that he has heard the people of Saskatchewan loud and clear and was backing down on this subject.

All this after a year of telling the people of Saskatchewan that it was not about a cash grab by a broke government but somehow it was an opportunity to grow Saskatchewan.  Nobody bought it.  In fact, the entire budget except for the PST increase has now been either rescinded or pledged to be by the people campaigning for Mr. Wall's job.  It really makes you wonder why he and his government even went through the budget process after the last election because it has become a meaningless exercise which unfortunately impacts the long-term stability of the province and all of us hard working taxpayers.   

The Throne speech presented last Wednesday did talk about a bunch of things like the legalization of cannabis in the coming year which are important to the province of Saskatchewan because they have long-term ramifications.  Unfortunately Mr. Wall is skipping town and won't be around for the heavy lifting on most of the items mentioned in the Throne speech.  We have no idea how his successor will handle the new files or the messed up budget process.  We can only hope that he/she has better hearing than the Premier.

One thing we know for sure is that there will be a $103 million Halloween treat for the consortium building the Regina bypass on October 31 and the trick will be for how the rest of us will pay for it over the next 30 years.  There was no mention of that or how we will pay for it with ongoing deficit budgets which are now a reality for the rest of this Sask Party government's term in office.  The PC Party in the coming days, months and years will attempt to be part of the solution with good policy and ideas and hopefully our government will start to listen or I'm sure the protests will get larger and louder.

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”.

Since my last commentary, my home community of Moose Jaw set a record of being the windiest place on the entire planet earth last Tuesday night with wind gusts up to 131 km.  This is the same wind storm which wrecked havoc across southern Saskatchewan, pushed massive wildfires on the west side of the province and claimed at least 1 life.  We must never underestimate the forces of nature and be prepared at all times to be vigilant in our own operations and be prepared to help our neighbour.  My condolences to families that were affected by these tragedies. 

On our farm our damage was limited to a few broken trees one of which was my favourite climbing tree as a child, the same tree which my two sons enjoyed climbing on and I was hoping that some of my grandchildren would be doing the same thing on the same tree.  It split right in two so we will have to find a new climbing tree for the new generations of Swensons.

A quick reminder to all viewers of this commentary that the PC Party's AGM will be held in Saskatoon on Saturday, November 4th at the Cosmos Civic Centre.  To register or for more information, please give Dale a call at the PC office.

This coming Wednesday, October 25th, I will be attending the opening session of the Saskatchewan's Legislature of the fall sitting.  It will be very interesting to see how the Sask Party government is managing the province's finances given that they have reversed many of the major cuts brought down in the spring budget and that the five people running for Mr. Wall's job have all promised to do away with the rest.

The Sask Party was totally untruthful with the public in the last general election about the state of the province's finances and it appears they have no plan in place of how to clean up the mess which they have created.  It totally baffles me how four of the individuals who sat around the cabinet table while the last budget was being prepared can now try to deny that they had any part in the government's decision making process.  The fifth individual was the head of Saskatchewan's entire public service and as such, would have been the person bringing the recommendations forward to the cabinet from all the various departments and how they would trim their budgets.  She of course says "I wasn't elected so you can't blame me". 

All of this should make for some interesting discussions around the current cabinet table and it should also make for some interesting answers in question period.  Of course that will only happen if the NDP opposition get off their collective backsides and start performing the role of an aggressive and stronger opposition which they have neglected to do in the past.

The PC Party presented a number of strong alternative policies in the last general election on how to get Saskatchewan out of its current malaise and start planning for the future.  On Wednesday, we will get some indication of Mr. Wall's swan song to the people of Saskatchewan and his cherished legacy.

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 wish to comment on three areas this morning that are certainly of importance to Saskatchewan. 

My first comment is on the use of non-government email servers by the Sask Party government.  If you remember in the last session of the Legislature, the issue came up of the Premier using an email server hosted at the Sask Party office to do government business on.  He promised he wouldn't do it anymore.  He still does.  It has now been revealed that other Cabinet Ministers have been doing this for years and even instructed members of the civil service in their departments to also do so.  They evidentially did this so that sensitive government information could not be accessed by Freedom of Information requests. 

Last Friday, the PC Party called for the resignation of Finance Minister Donna Harpauer who has consistently been doing this all the way back to 2009.  In the release, the PC Party stated "In Saskatchewan, Freedom of Information laws are in place to ensure that the public has access to all government-related documents.  In an open and free society, transparency in government is a cornerstone of democracy."  The PC Party in government would follow this policy to the letter.  Brad Wall's Minister should resign.

The second item I wish to comment on is the distinct possibility of the federal government backing down on some of the proposed tax changes they had earlier proposed.  I wish to congratulate all of the people and groups who made their displeasure known to the Federal government and Federal MPs in order to have this proposed legislation re-evaluated.  It's obvious from comments in the media that there has been a tremendous amount of pressure brought by Federal Liberal backbench MPs who have been really putting the pressure on Finance Minister Morneau and that the Minister is now making public statements of not wanting to hurt agriculture and small business.  Let's hope that when the changes are brought down this week, that a more common-sense approach as proposed by the PC Party of Saskatchewan a few weeks ago are adopted by the Trudeau Liberals.

My final comment is on the NAFTA re-negotiation process which has been underway for a couple of months.  It appears that the Trump administration in the United States wants to turn the clock back by 40 years with their "America First" trade policies.  I remember those days well as a young person starting out in farming and watching the devastation those policies had on international commodity prices and the bullying of various US commodity groups which used their clout at election time in the US.

It's one reason that PC governments in both Saskatchewan and Canada negotiated so hard  to come up with the NAFTA deal in the first place.  Hopefully the Canadian government and all provincial governments in Canada who have developed strong relationships with US Governors, Members of Congress and the United States Senate can use those relationships to help block some of the totally backward negotiating stances of the Trump administration.

Canada in my view must be prepared to walk away from a negotiation that removes all dispute resolution mechanisms from a new agreement.  We cannot have our trading relationship at the mercy of the US court systems.  Fair trade means exactly that.  I do not want to be the pawn in US congressional elections which happen every two years as my farm was before 1988. 

The North American economy is a very integrated one which has brought prosperity and a higher standard of living to most of our citizens.  Why would we ever think of going back to the old ways?

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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