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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Hope everyone had a good Canada Day long weekend. Saskatchewan made it through the weekend without any major weather events and it looks like we are finally going to get some summer weather for a change. I’m sure there are people all over this province who are breathing a sigh of relief and will welcome the days of sunshine to come.

Last week, two items of public interest came to light. The first one was the expenditure of $1.5 million being spent to create a campground at the annual Craven Country Jamboree. The problem with this campground is that it is part of the old Last Mountain Lake bottom and this year – like many other places in Saskatchewan – it was full of water. This is another case of a government with too much money looking for places to spend it that will make themselves look good in the eyes of voters this fall. The fact that one level of government was dishing out the money to build expensive dykes around a party site for a 3-day music festival only to have another level of government shut it down because of federal regulations tells me that the due diligence wasn’t done. Whether the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans had any legitimate business sticking their nose in is debatable. But what isn’t debatable is the provincial government’s spending of $1.5 million for a 3-day music festival/party campground when so many others are in dire need is unacceptable.

Governments of all stripes have put money into the Craven festival to help it grow as a tourist destination. Tens of thousands of music lovers have attended and enjoyed the music provided by the recording stars over the years without having to have an on-site campground to party in. This year’s flooding all over southern Saskatchewan is not going to be a yearly event and I’m sure the area that has been used in the past will be dry in the future for many years to come. The time to build dykes is when it is dry and you are not being forced to pump off 4 feet of water in order to meet deadlines. This is simply a case of politicians wanting to look good by coming to the rescue. The one good thing that might come out of this is that the Federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans who have been a royal pain in the backside to so many people and institutions in this province will have their bureaucrats finally put in check.

So while the government has lots of money for music festivals, we learned last week that the kidney transplant program which was shut down for a year and a half and received a lot of public scrutiny has now been shut down again after only 2 transplants. Saskatchewan people will now be going out-of-province again to get their transplants done and our government and it’s Health Minister seem totally oblivious to the need. It seems that 1 individual involved in this program is suffering from poor health and therefore the whole program is shut down. So now we have $1.5 million for a 3-day music festival but we can’t find the money to go out and hire someone else to ensure that Saskatchewan has this life-saving program. If it was your money (and it is), what would you rather spend it on – a party campground or health care? I know what I would choose.

My final comment for the day is about the Cabinet Minister with the biggest mouth who keeps putting both feet in it. You will all remember my comments about Rob Norris and how the Carleton Trail/St. Peter’s college fiascos spent taxpayers’ money foolishly while under the direction of Mr. Norris. Mr. Norris this last week attempted to apologize for his misdeeds after the report on this fiasco was released. His apology turned into a litany of excuses and why this was everyone else’s fault but his. Mr. Norris should have been fired by the Premier for the way this situation was handled and dragged through the Legislature for 13 months. Mr. Norris has flat-out lied to the public, allowed individuals with criminal pasts to get at taxpayers’ money and allowed the needs of the Sask Party to come ahead of the taxpayers of this province. The one good thing about all of this is that the Sask Party’s fundraising scheme of making individuals and companies buy $1000 special memberships to get access to the Premier and Cabinet Ministers was exposed and cancelled. There is no room in our political system for influence peddling or incompetent and untruthful Cabinet Ministers. Let us hope that the electors in Saskatoon University will tell Mr. Norris his behaviour was unacceptable even if the Premier doesn’t.

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