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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

After having a few days to decompress, I’ve had the opportunity to go pheasant hunting with my dog, do a little farm work and not think about politics 24 hours a day. And you know what? The sun still comes up in the east and goes down in the west so Saskatchewan will get through 4 more years of Sask Party government.

There are two issues that I wish to comment on which I think are quite relevant. The first is Brad Wall and his government started keeping their election promises 2 days after the election. He removed the PST from children’s clothing from the age of 14 to the age of 17. I really believe that Saskatchewan families would have been okay without this particular move. When you think of all the important things that need accomplishing in this province, this one seems pretty low on the priority list. It will be interesting to see where the Saskatchewan budget forecast is at because if we are in a deficit position, moves like this are simply unaffordable and nonsense. I guess Mr. Wall thinks he is paying back a few of those urban voters that gave him victories in the 4 big cities. I would like to think that those voters would be more interested in good government and not running deficits because isn’t that what he was attacking Mr. Lingenfelter over after all? Go figure.

The other issue that has cropped up in the last few days is a huge one for Canada. That is the postponing of the Keystone XL Pipeline from Alberta to the Texas coast. This pipeline has been very controversial in American political and environmental circles. It seems strange to us in Western Canada who have pipelines running all over the place that people in the US Midwest would not be in favour of increased energy self-sufficiency.

The environmental lobby groups in the US have been after the Canadian oil sands for sometime because they are viewed as major C02 polluters and consumers of energy and water. That debate will go on for a long time. What this should tell Canadians and particularly those of us in western Canada who are now experiencing record-high prices for diesel fuel and an insufficient supply that we should be upping our refining capabilities here at home. Imagine where Saskatchewan would be today with our thriving economy if we did not have the Co-op and Husky upgraders providing feed stock to their refineries. Our booming economy relies heavily on diesel fuel. If our economy was brought to a standstill and they say parts of it are on the verge of it now because of a lack of fuel, we would look pretty stupid in the eyes of many.

During this last election campaign, there was absolutely no mention by the
Sask Party or the NDP on bringing more refining capabilities to this province. Former Premier Lougheed of Alberta has been saying for decades that Alberta is wrong to produce that much oil and not process at least half of it at home. The same can be said for Saskatchewan. I do not believe for a minute that the Americans won’t purchase refined or finished products from our petrochemical industry. We have all seen the big co-op tanker trucks heading south into North Dakota and Montana. Why should the high paying, high technology jobs that go with refining oil and gas not be happening in Saskatchewan and Alberta? It simply takes some planning and political will to find the right partnerships to make a win/win situation happen out of what could be many years of long regulatory delays on the Keystone Pipeline. Let’s see if Brad Wall has enough imagination and courage to get on with something that really matters to the future of this province rather than removing the PST on teenagers’ clothes. If that is the best he’s got, we are in for a sad four years.

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

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