You have all probably heard by now that former Premier Allan Blakeney passed away this weekend. I had the privilege of serving in the Legislature with Mr. Blakeney and even though I didn’t agree with much of what he stood for during the 1980’s, you could not help but like the man personally and respect his commitment to our province. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and when Saskatchewan loses an individual like Mr. Blakeney who has contributed so much of his life to our province’s well-being, we should all honour that commitment.
Speaking of commitments that aren’t being kept, once again rural health care is being ignored by the current Sask Party government. It is now Kamsack’s turn to feel the affects of this neglect. I was pleased to see people with strong conservative backgrounds speaking out about the neglect they are facing and the fact that people who have been supporting the Sask Party government in rural Saskatchewan are finding out the true nature of this beast. Our current government has resource dollars pouring in once more. I believe the budget was deliberately understated so that there will be money to spread around once the Legislative Assembly is out of session and they can’t be held accountable for their election spending. The long list of communities like Wakaw, Wawota, Shaunavon and now Kamsack will continue to grow unless there is a different approach to delivering rural health services. It was apparent when watching the news on Sunday evening that the people running the health region around Kamsack do not have the resources and are simply waiting for the provincial government to do something. If all of these rural communities have to wait for the provincial government, what is the sense of paying for all of these bureaucrats in the local health regions who don’t have the tools to fix the problem? It seems like a fairly straight-forward answer. Redirect the money from the bureaucracies to front-line services and start educating our own people to fill the necessary positions in front-line care.
The cooler weather of the last few days has slowed down the provincial melt and will help a lot of our citizens cope with what is yet to come. It’s a double-edge sword because agricultural producers need to get the snow melted and off of their fields and get the ground temperature up so that there is a chance to seed. But a rapid melt means water over roads, highways and flooded communities all over the province and that means a lot of hurt to a lot of people. It looks like the flooding along the Qu’Appelle system could easily use up the government’s budged $22 million without the rest of the provincial snow pack having finished its melt. I believe at one time in the last week there was water going across in over 50 places on provincial highways and that always causes damage. I do see though that there was a shiny brochure that showed up in my mailbox on the weekend telling me what to do if I am faced with flooding. I am sure that that shiny brochure ended up in every mailbox in the province so that means the problem should all go away if everyone follows all of the instructions in the brochure. Most of the ones that I saw in the Moose Jaw post office had already gone in the garbage can. It’s a very typical government response when you have already become arrogant in your ways – it is to simply go out and hire yourself more public relations people with taxpayers’ money and print glossy brochures to make it look like you are doing something to solve the problem.
Our Federal Leader’s Debate came and went last week and I’m not sure that it changed much in the way of voter thinking. I think the consensus is from both the media and the individuals that I talked to is that Stephen Harper came out the winner. He didn’t necessarily win with anything that he said. He won because the 3 other individuals – one of whom Duceppe – should not have been there in the first place – did not take the opportunity to bring their best game forward. It is hard to believe after 5 years of minority government in Canada that there wasn’t more in the way of passionate debate on the direction the country should take and more of a vision for the future. The health care debate at the end was indicative of this attitude as they all couldn’t wait to dispense with it and no one wanted to get into a topic which could prove sticky. It seems that politics has regressed to the place where all political parties simply want to live for tomorrow and then look after the problems for the next day the day before. Hopefully if Stephen Harper gets his majority government, we will finally get some bigger visions for Canada that are more meaningful than what we saw last Tuesday night. I still believe that Canadians and Saskatchewan people want more options, more debate and more vision. There is hardly a thing that Elizabeth May says that I agree with but I still believe she would have brought far more to that debate that Gilles Duceppe. Anyone from outside of Canada watching that exercise in democracy with him playing the role that he was allowed to play would just find Canada’s election process a joke.
I don’t like to burden the readers of this commentary with too much material but I am going to pass along an article that was brought to my attention from the Calgary Herald by Mr. Tom Steen who is seeking to be a candidate in the next provincial election for PC Party of Saskatchewan. The article is from March 2009 and I am wondering why there hasn’t been more discussion on the topic matter across our land because it is an issue that must be discussed. I would appreciate your comments on it in the days and weeks to come.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.