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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

What a difference a week makes! It was +15 here yesterday and the water is really running. You probably all saw in the news where Moose Jaw had some excitement over the weekend with the Moose Jaw River rising rapidly and along with some ice jams, did a fair bit of damage within a few hours. I expect all over the province people will be dealing with similar situations. Hopefully the assurances that we have been getting from the government about their pre-planning are up to the mark about flood preparations. We had to get a track-hoe in and have a whole bunch of dirt and rock hauled in order to save the large culvert below our yard that was washed out and not fixed for 5 months last year. I am sure that the same circumstance is going to be repeated across this province hundreds of times over. It will be expensive. I hope the assurances that we heard from the government on budget day when they only allocated $22 million for the entire province will come true if the number exceeds that and I am sure that it will.

I was in the Legislature again this past week watching Question Period and listened to some of the Committee debate afterwards. There is a real rotten smell emanating from the answers given by Rob Norris on the failed merger of the Carleton Trail Community College and St. Peter’s College. This issue has been boiling for a couple of weeks now and Mr. Norris keeps failing to give answers about the role of the gentleman who bought a special $1,000 Sask Party membership so that he could sit in with Sask Party Cabinet Ministers. This is the gentleman that was hired by St. Peter’s College to do the merger – the same gentleman that had been previously convicted of fraud and who was expected to garner large amounts of taxpayer money to make this merger happen. When you add in the Board of Directors of Carleton Trail who were mostly Sask Party appointees and friends of the government, you have a real mess on your hands and Mr. Norris is not taking the proper reasonability for the mess. The Premier should be calling for a judicial inquiry and dismissing Mr. Norris from his Cabinet duties. It is a sad state of affairs when a political party that has only been in office for 3½ years is already at the stage of handing out political patronage and taxpayers’ dollars along with it and making people and organizations feel that they must purchase special $1,000 memberships in order to have their voice heard. I wonder which one of Mr. Wall’s inner circle came up with this bright idea.

The Federal election campaign continues with its vast amounts of mediocrity. Issues like public housing and how to improve education and health across Canada are almost non-issues. Maybe it is because these things are controlled by the provinces and requires negotiations, makes them untouchable by Federal leaders. But they are issues that require the commitment and cooperation of all levels of government and that takes leadership on the Federal level to achieve. Most people that I talk to seem either disinterested in the whole process or comment that they are going to have to go to the polls and pick the lesser evil of the choices presented to them. I believe there is a real danger that only about 50% of Canadians are going to vote in this Federal election and that would be another chunk of our democratic process eroded away. The fact that we are going to have a debate of Federal leaders without the presence of the Green Leader, Elizabeth May, simply deepens the cynicism of Canadian voters. I believe today that all Canadians regardless of their province or region are looking for more options, more open debate on the issues facing us and a different looking parliamentary system than what we have today. The fact that Gilles Duceppe is involved in these debates with absolutely no constituency beyond Quebec makes the whole process a farce. Let’s hope that Canadian voters cry out in anger at the current format or else turn their backs on the television sets so that the network big shots that plan this exercise in democracy get the message that voters are unhappy. My guess is that if there is a hockey game on the same night, more Canadian voters will watch the hockey game.

I will be calling for the inclusion of all political parties in any debate which may take place in the province of Saskatchewan during our late fall election. It would be an affront to democracy in this province if Mr. Wall gets his way and only has to face Dwain Lingenfelter. Unfortunately we have seen many times now where Mr. Wall’s version of democracy is only one which favours his own political fortunes. We all must demand more of our system in order to keep it healthy.

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

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