Today will be a very interesting day for most Canadians and especially for the Leaders of our major Federal political parties. If one is to believe the polling, the House of Commons may have an entirely new look after the dust settles tonight. There is much speculation about the role that Jack Layton and the Federal NDP might play in a future Parliament of Canada. I am sure that a lot of Canadians, as I am, are a little bit mystified at the sudden rise of smiling Jack who isn’t exactly a newcomer to Federal politics or for that matter, to politics in general because of his long-time service as an elected official in Toronto. After watching this campaign unfold over the last 35 days, it seems what has caught the attention of voters is Layton’s willingness to talk about issues like affordable health care, affordable pensions and affordable housing. For a lot of Canadians, they feel these particular areas are slipping away from themselves and their families. We all know that it is very easy to make commitments in elections if you don’t think you are ever going to have to follow through. That has certainly been the history of the NDP who have always prided themselves in being the conscience of the House of Commons but never had to do the grunt work of governing. Canadians may thrust more responsibility onto the shoulders of people like Jack Layton tomorrow and let us hope that if Prime Minister Harper does not get his majority and it looks like he won’t according to the polls, it is important that all of our Federal political leaders step back, take a deep breath and think about why Canadians have voted the way that they have. It’s time to park the egos and get us out of this incessant round of electioneering and start providing the vision that Canadians need to feel secure in their most basic wants and aspirations. Jack Layton has touched a nerve that all of our political leaders should have been responding to in the last 35 days.
This week is also important for the PC Party of Saskatchewan because we have an application before the Courts on Tuesday this week. We are asking for access to a tape that CTV has from a Sask Party caucus meeting after the 2007 election at which one of our former Trustees of our Trust Fund is seen on the tape. This in fact was the Chairman of our Trust Fund and until the Sask Party Premier informed the media that he had resigned to everyone’s knowledge and the court, he was still overseeing the PC Party’s Trust Fund and at the same time, was on the Sask Party’s payroll being paid with taxpayers’ dollars.
It was good to see on the weekend that the Prime Minister promised federal funding for flood related infrastructure and mitigation costs. It has become very obvious that the money allocated by the provincial government is not going to be sufficient and that the federal funding will allow people to sleep a little better knowing that their efforts will be backed up.
The provincial government has once more dragged out the clean coal story for another big media splash after the last effort failed terribly. We now have Sask Power going ahead with a $1.2 billion project that no one is sure will work or not.
It reminds me of the NDP putting up big signs on #1 highway between Moose Jaw and Regina just prior to the 2003 election talking about the very large ethanol plant that was going to be built at Belle Plaine. The generation of electrical power using coal is something that this province will have to live with for many years to come. But there are other alternatives which need to be explored that may not have the same costs and the uncertainty that this one does. No one is threatening to shut down our electrical plants because of emissions. Wouldn’t it be nice if the government - which seems very flush with cash these days - had committed to at least undertaking a study of how Saskatchewan might add value to its uranium resource by looking at the storage of used fuel rods? Or perhaps they could invite someone like AECL back to Saskatchewan to develop smaller sized nuclear generating plants. There should be ways of knowing whether this clean coal technology will work before spending $1.2 billion on it and at the same time, creating very difficult housing issues around the City of Estevan. I have nothing against Estevan growing and prospering which it is doing right now because of the Bakken oil play. Housing is such a critical issue all over the province – any extra demands caused by this announcement will probably take away from somewhere else that doesn’t have such a vibrant economy already. This announcement, in my view, reeks of politics after Mr. Wall’s failed venture with the State of Montana on carbon capture. This is a politician who is always looking for a legacy project.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.