Happy New Year to everyone! I hope that the holiday season brought much joy and happiness to you and your family. I know it certainly was good around our house and I have the waistline to show for it. Winter or I should say the lack thereof, has not been hard to take so that when we finally do get into the cold and snow, it will seem a much shorter time until spring arrives.
Now that we have 4 more years of a Sask Party government, I believe it is important for Saskatchewan people in this time of growth to get the kind of government they deserve. I do not believe at this time in our history that we need more high-priced politicians and the high-priced help that goes along with adding more MLAs to the Legislative Assembly. Saskatchewan has the most government for population of any jurisdiction in Canada. We already have more politicians at the municipal, civic, provincial and federal levels than anywhere else in our country. There is a cost associated with that and all of us pay it through our various levels of taxation. Mr. Wall’s last minute proposal during the last Legislative session to increase the number of seats in the house – an issue which he did not campaign on – is ridiculous. On one hand he is saying that his newly-elected MLA/Rider football player Gene Makowsky can take the time to once again play full-time for the Riders and in the same breath, tells us that people are not being sufficiently represented currently because Saskatchewan has seen an increase in population of about 50,000 people.
The latest stats on our immigration numbers which came out over the holiday period shows that over half of the people coming to Saskatchewan are immigrants from other countries – many of whom will not have achieved Canadian citizenship and therefore voting rights for several years yet. Saskatchewan currently has more MLAs than the province of Manitoba which has more population than Saskatchewan. Our neighbouring province of Alberta only has 83 MLAs and yet they have over 3 times our population. The real problem facing Mr. Wall is that redistribution is mandatory after every 2 elections and he will have a number of his Cabinet Ministers being forced into competing with each other for seats in the Legislature. Also, the number of rural seats will decrease under the current formula. This will have members from so-called safe Sask Party seats competing against each other, thus the proposal to add a rural seat to the Legislature along with two urban ones so that the urban growth in Regina and Saskatoon is reflected. Perhaps if Mr. Wall’s government had paid more attention to issues like rural health care, rural educational opportunities and sound economic development policies outside of Regina and Saskatoon, we would see a more even distribution of population in our province. Playing jiggery-pokery with the Elections Act will not solve this neglect by our government.
I have believed for a long time that the makeup for the seats in our legislature should be based on the number of voters in a given area not the population and that we should strive at all times to maintain an equality amongst voters. If this means putting in the proper variances, so be it. I know what it is like to service a large rural constituency and that was in an age when we did not have the various electronic and telecommunication tools that are available today. We now have fixed election dates so we have the opportunity as a province and a society to take the time to discuss this issue and come up with the right formula. Simply adding more politicians because it makes Mr. Wall’s management of his caucus easier, should not be one of the criteria in this decision.
I look forward to the debate which should occur on this matter in the lead up to the next legislative session and that all of you as voters should take the time to express your views to those with the power to influence this decision – one way or another. I can assure you that politics in Saskatchewan will never be dull and the PC Party looks forward to making sure that the political dialogue in this province doesn’t get boring in 2012.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.