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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson


It’s a cool Monday morning in southern Saskatchewan. Harvest is well underway with the end in sight. The sudden switch in temperature from boiling heat one day to freezing cold the next is a typical Saskatchewan weather event. Our political climate is much the same way. You can be on top of the world one day and in the depths of despair the next.

If we are to believe the polling that was released last week, then Dwain Lingenfelter and the NDP are in the deep freeze. It amazes me that Saskatchewan voters would be so enthralled with Brad Wall and the Sask Party that they could possibly have the largest voter majority in our history. What it clearly shows is that when a party stays in power too long – like the NDP did in Saskatchewan and then did not renew themselves to the next generation – you will suffer the political consequence. Brad Wall has really done nothing but follow the policies of Lorne Calvert. He has simply put a different face on them. Saskatchewan’s royalty rates have not changed one iota and yet you would think that Brad Wall was the saviour of the oil industry. The potash policies of Brad Wall are the same ones put in place by Lorne Calvert. The only thing that has really changed is that all of the raw commodities which Saskatchewan has in abundance have all of a sudden risen in value at the same time. Everyone in this province has known that we had much to offer the world. The problem was no one wanted it in large amounts or else the prices for it were miserable. Talk about getting lucky – that is Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party.

So now we have Saskatchewan caught up in the pre-election campaign of personalities with people comparing Brad Wall to Dwain Lingenfelter rather than focusing on what we should be doing with our wealth or rather, what we have not been doing with this new-found wealth. Dwain Lingenfelter actually had a good idea last week. He talked about setting up a fund similar to what the country of Norway has put in place to ensure that its resource wealth is carried over for future generations. We in this province must ensure that the resource wealth we are enjoying is preserved in such a way that we continue to build the province and also build a legacy for down the road when the resources have been used up. To me, a big part of what is missing from this personality-based election campaign is the discussion we should be having about adding more value to our resources not simply grabbing the money and trying to make ourselves look good. I don’t believe for a minute under the current Brad Wall-led government that we would have seen the building of two heavy oil upgraders, a world-class fertilizer plant at Belle Plaine (Saskferco-Yara) or the building of the Rafferty-Alameda complex in southeast Saskatchewan.

There is a huge debate going on in the United States about pipelining lower grade Canadian oil to the United States for refining. The debate in this country should be about refining more of that product here and selling the finished products to the Americans and others rather than giving away the taxes and the jobs to someone else. The same can be said for our uranium industry, for our lumber industry, for our grains and oilseeds and yes, even in our fertilizer industry. This is where the true wealth of our resources can be. Long-term, high paying jobs which pump back taxes and consumer confidence and sustainability in our society for generations to come. The PC Party must bring this debate to the provincial election campaign. One of the major reasons the Sask Party and its friends have blocked the PC Party is because they do not want us raising these issues with the Saskatchewan voter. We must marshal our resources and do so. Election campaigns fought on personalities give us poor government.

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

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