Monday Morning Commentary has now turned into Monday Evening Commentary. Today was supposed to be a fishing day for the Swensons however it turned into a “fix the front deck” day for the Swensons instead. My deck was much like a lot of the roads in Saskatchewan – you had to watch where you stepped so unlike the government, I got busy on my fishing day and fixed the deck. Hopefully your long weekend was a little bit more enjoyable that ours was.
I did enjoy the news release put out by the NDP caucus last Thursday entitled “Record Potash Corp Earnings Bolster Case for Independent Royalty Review”. Last week I talked about Dwain Lingenfelter and his threats to unilaterally change potash royalties if he were elected. Mr. Lingenfelter, it appears, has now come around to the more sensible view purposed by the Progressive Conservative Party last spring with our Strategic Resources Review Commission. As everyone saw in the media reports this last week, Potash Corp has exceeded expectations on their earnings and in fact are looking at sales which will exceed available tonnage in the coming year. Our Sask Party Premier and his government continue to give away taxpayer-paid tax credits in the hundreds of millions to a company that has posted over $1.5 billion in profits in the first half of 2011 alone. Potash Corp is not going to pick up all its marbles and go play elsewhere if we quit giving away $100,000 a year tax credits to fill Paul Hill’s building in Regina. It is extremely important that the people of this province have the proper mechanism to review their stake in the potash business on a regular basis without threatening the stability of the industry. Mr. Lingenfelter has realized that threats and intimidation don’t work. Mr. Wall has to learn not to give away the farm so that he can look like a big shot to a bunch of company CEOs. This is something we will campaign on in the upcoming election.
The government has revealed that we have surpassed the number of flooded acreage returns from last year and there are still more coming in. It is obvious that the financial commitment required from our governments to mitigate this huge disaster across Saskatchewan is going to be significant. Our provincial Finance Minister was in the news this last week claiming that he still had a modest “plus” on the balance sheet of Saskatchewan’s spring budget. That simply will not be the case later this year when all of the damage claims have come in and hopefully the Finance Minister will be telling us the truth prior to the provincial election campaign. There is nothing wrong with our government running a deficit so that the people of this province are properly looked after. What it does do is call into question some of the priorities of this government and what they have spent money on that has not been helpful to all of the individuals, communities and farm families who are flooded out around this province. The bill to fix all of the highways and roads alone is going to be huge. There are not many rural municipalities in this province that will be able to handle the financial burden on their own. In my own RM, there is still mitigation work going on from last year’s flooding. The road 1 mile east and 1 mile north of me will be out of commission for up to 3 weeks to fix the undermining from last year. This is a major grid road in my RM and this closure will cause significant hardship for many as the harvest season gets underway. This is being repeated in hundreds of places all over the province and the bills from last year, let alone this year, will have to be paid sometime.
Our government really needs to pay attention to the basics and forget about the fancy political frills that our Premier is attracted to.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.