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I’ll start this Monday Morning’s Commentary with an invitation for any of you that read this to attend the Progressive Conservative Party of Saskatchewan’s Annual Meeting and Policy Discussion on Saturday, June 18th. This event will take place at the Park Town Hotel in Saskatoon. Registration begins at 9:00 AM followed by the Annual Meeting from 10:00 to noon. We have a luncheon guest speaker coming in from the province of Manitoba who has a lot of experience in rebuilding political parties. We will also be renewing our long-time tradition of presenting life memberships to worthy individuals. I’m extremely proud of the fact that my Mom and Dad – Don and Dorothy Swenson – who were nominated way back in 1996 - will be finally receiving the recognition that they earned for their dedication to the PC Party. The afternoon session will be highlighted by presentations on recycling, farmland ownership, rural health care delivery and government financial accountability. All of these areas are ones that you have heard me talk about in the commentary and I believe will be important parts of PC policy in the next provincial election. You can have all of this for the $30.00 registration fee or if you can only attend the luncheon, a great buffet lunch will be offered for $25.00 per person. If you are interesting in attending, please let me know by email or phone (692-5060) by June 15th so we can make sure there is enough food for all. I hope to see you there.

Speaking of government accountability, someone finally woke up to the fact that Saskatchewan’s teachers were deadly serious about getting a fair settlement. The government went out of province and got themselves a mediator as I suggested they should do a couple of weeks ago. The one thing that may be missing in this process is a report back to the taxpayers of this province about what exactly either side is offering. I know that the bargaining process and mediation occurs around the table behind closed doors but there has to be a way that the people of this province finds out who was telling the truth and who was stretching things for their own benefit. We were bombarded with ads by both sides during this dispute with a lot of strident rhetoric. It would be nice to know how much truth there was in the ads and how much financial room there is in our government coffers. I don’t believe for a moment that the government’s budget projections are in tuned with reality. The prices of commodities have been strong all year and government revenue will be above projection. This is an election year and we don’t need a government trying to buy votes although I am sure they will try. There are many other sectors who still haven’t settled and I think that the same process of bringing in outside people with no axe or political agenda to grind would help bring labour harmony back to the health sector amongst others.

I think the province of Saskatchewan should take a few lessons from next door in Manitoba when it comes to relocating people because of natural disasters. We have had the situation this last week of the evacuations from northern Saskatchewan because of the threat of forest fires to various communities. These individuals were evacuated by air to Saskatoon and Prince Albert. The evacuation to Saskatoon quickly went sour when the evacuees who would be highly stressed because of their situation were plunked down in a strange environment and unfortunately, right across the street from a liquor board store which led to civil unrest. Most of these people come from dry reserves and communities and have never been in a major urban centre and it seems, were left to their own devices. It was very unfortunate when the police service has to call in extra people and monitor the situation that should have been managed and monitored from day one. I guess the intentions were good but no one had thought the process through to its conclusion. The quicker these people are returned home, the better it will be for everyone. If northern Saskatchewan stays dry all summer, this may be a reoccurring situation. We do not want to see a Slave Lake, Alberta scenario happening in our province so someone had best take responsibility and make sure the pre-planning is done ahead of time. The pre-planning is much cheaper for the taxpayer rather than the reaction after the fact.

Volunteerism has always been something that we in Saskatchewan pride ourselves on. In fact, volunteerism is what makes many of our communities successful and good places in which to live. I was really pleased to hear the other day that a former colleague of mine and friend, Mr. Ralph Katzman, was being honoured with the B’nai Brith Jerry Rose Memorial Award for volunteerism in Saskatoon and area. I know Ralph is a huge volunteer with the Saskatoon Blades hockey team and the Optimist Club along with many other activities. Congrats to him for a job well done! I know from attending Relay for Life once again Friday evening in Moose Jaw that volunteerism is something we should all celebrate.

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