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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Happy Halloween! It will be interesting to see what the political leaders have to offer today to the taxpayers of Saskatchewan – will it be more tricks or more treats?

It is obvious that politics in Saskatchewan these days is all about having a big bank roll and a good ad agency. You have all seen the multi-faceted Sask Party television commercials showing Brad Wall in all sorts of different uniforms. The NDP are doing the same thing only with not as big a budget or as flashy an ad agency. The funny thing about these glitzy campaigns is that the rumour is out that both parties went to a Vancouver agency to get their work done. If you remember last year, the Sask Party government cancelled the tax credits that basically destroyed our home-grown film industry. It used to be that Saskatchewan political parties would spend their money with Saskatchewan ad agencies when developing their advertising programs. It’s no wonder that our local talent has to leave this province for Toronto, Vancouver and LA to practice their creativity when our political parties won’t even use that creativity at home.

Both the Sask Party and the NDP claim to have released their entire platforms in the last week but now they are both back at it again with more promises coming out daily. I wonder if they believe that these ones will have no cost associated with them or that the voters have so tuned out this campaign that no one is noticing anymore. I am finding when talking to people on the doors that the 2 person leader’s debate last week was a colossal bore with nothing new to be learned. Maybe the major networks will have learned a lesson when structuring the next debate that the public wants to hear solutions to their problems and they are prepared to listen to other political messages and problem solving. There is a different format needed and there is certainly the need for a media panel that is not afraid to ask the tough questions.

The release of Potash Corps’ third earnings shows why there is a desperate need for the PC Party’s proposal of a strategic resources review commission. The NDP quickly jumped upon the result and started talking about windfall profits and how this justifies their extravagant spending campaign. The Sask Party of course says this is the Calvert deal and we just have to wait until 2015 to reap the rewards. The taxpayer of this province must have an impartial review of this industry. Numbers like $800 million to the vast majority seems like a lot of money and it is. But it always must be put in the context of that particular industry and the rules that it operates under. I believe that a commission with a very straight forward mandate would show that Saskatchewan people should be getting a bigger share of the potash pie before the expansions are completed in 2015. It might be as simple as proving to the government that the tax credits for white collar employees are extravagant or that some of the items being costed during the expansions are of a frivolous nature. But what is very evident in this debate is that the politics needs to be removed and decisions based upon fact and fairness.

Last week I participated in an all-candidate debate sponsored by the Moose Jaw and District Labour council. Neither of the Sask Party Moose Jaw candidates had the courage to show up. They claim that 10 days notice of the event wasn’t sufficient for them to organize their lives enough to show up in front of their neighbours and potential constituents to answer some questions relevant to our community. My colleague Tom Steen gave plenty of notice that he was on shift-work that night and could not attend. The Sask Party candidates only replied the morning of the event. There was certainly a bias towards some issues that labour is unhappy about but I did not find the evening offensive at all. Some people did not like my answers or the PC Party’s solutions but they did applaud and appreciate that I had taken the time to be at the forum. I don’t know how anyone running for public office and public service can possibly absent themselves from events like this and have any respect shown by members of the community. The editorial in Saturday’s Moose Jaw Times Herald spoke directly to the fact that Sask Party candidates do not have the freedom to say what they wish or to go to events without first having to clear everything with the handlers in Regina. This Sask Party government is truly a one-man show and electing more Sask Party MLAs will not solve any community’s problems because a Sask Party MLA is just a person walking in sheep’s clothing.

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

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