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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Early this morning, Canada received some sad news. The Leader of our Official Opposition, Mr. Jack Layton, passed away earlier this morning after losing his battle with cancer. Mr. Layton has proven to be a very resilient politician but cancer picks no friends and his valiant fight has come to an end. There wasn’t much about Jack Layton’s policies or philosophies that I could agree with but I do know that he believed in what he was doing and in the last election campaign, millions of Canadians also believed in his vision. Jack Layton has to be recognized by all Canadians for being the federal politician who kicked the Bloc Quebecois out of our federal parliament. He did our country a great service by doing so. Our system of government only works well when there is a strong and vigorous opposition to the governing party. Canada will miss Mr. Layton’s vigour. He was intelligent, personable and knew the value of a well laid out arguments and alternatives. The NDP will be hard pressed to find a suitable replacement. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family in their time of loss.

We had all hoped in Saskatchewan with fixed election dates that the temptation for the governing party to make all sorts of pre-election promises and give-aways would come to an end. That was the rhetoric that we heard out of the then Saskatchewan Party opposition before the 2007 election campaign. They took great exception to the pre-election announcements of the then Calvert-led NDP and said that by going to fixed election dates, this would come to an end. One announcement by the Calvert government in particular drew the Sask Party’s fire and that was the announced rehab of the Saskatchewan Hospital at Battlefords, Saskatchewan. Well low and behold this past week we have the Premier of our province trotting up to Battlefords to announce the complete re-building of the Saskatchewan Hospital at Battlefords. Not only did he make an announcement, it wasn’t what was expected i.e. finally the new building … it was another expensive study to determine what the building should look like.

This has become a very familiar pattern for this Premier and this government. They have been doing the same hide-and-seek game with other communities like Moose Jaw where they announce funding for studies and then the time lines keep being put off until they can get close enough to election time to make it look like they are actually doing something. The only announcement that should be acceptable in Battlefords is that of bricks and mortar and someone starting to dig the hole for the foundation the next day. Wall will probably try some of the same stuff at his Leader’s fundraising dinner in Moose Jaw next month. This is totally unacceptable behaviour and the lowest form of political manipulation to use our health care system as a platform for Sask Party politics. In Moose Jaw’s case, the citizens of Moose Jaw and area have had a special levy on their taxes for years to help with the construction of a new hospital. Everyone needs medical care and the use of good facilities. We don’t show our political cards when we go to the hospital. For Brad Wall to now be running around the province a month and a half before the election call making promises with the taxpayers’ money on facilities that should be built as a matter of course is unconscionable. I thought one of the reasons that we had all of this high-priced and supposedly knowledgeable professionals on the payroll of the various health regions was to give the necessary advice and planning for these various health care facilities to take the pressure off the elected politicians. After all, wasn’t that why Louise Simard and her NDP government brought in the health districts back in 94-95? I remember her saying at the time this was how local people would take ownership of their own health care and its requirements. Funny thing is though…..the politicians still control the purse strings and the expensive attachments are only for show and now Brad Wall can go around the province and tell everyone what a good and caring fellow he is by bringing them more studies or plans for long overdue health care facilities. This province has had 4 tremendous years income-wise. I would have thought the bricks and mortar could have been underway years ago.

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