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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

It was interesting to note when Saskatchewan’s job numbers came out at the end of last week that we had only added 3100 jobs last year in a supposed-booming economy. During the same period, Manitoba – a province that was half covered with water in 2011 – added 5800 jobs and Alberta a whopping 98200 jobs. In fact only New Brunswick and Quebec had fewer numbers than Saskatchewan and our economy is supposedly doing so well.

Another number that was shocking is that First Nations unemployment has risen over 6.1% since the Sask Party came to power in 2007. And it was no surprise to me that the region that lost the most jobs in 2011 was the Moose Jaw/Swift Current one. It was obvious when campaigning in Moose Jaw last fall that the economic boom in Saskatchewan was not hitting my area at all and in fact, this region lost over 1700 jobs in the last year.

It is unfortunate that these numbers were not available before the last provincial election campaign because I believe this is an indication of how the Sask Party government’s approach to our resource development is falling short. We need to be adding value to our resources. Things like upgrading and refining our oil and gas rather than shipping it out and finding ways to value-add our uranium and agricultural resources is an absolute must if we are going to have long-term employment for the future. Anyone that believes there is no difference between the Progressive Conservative Party and the Sask Party only needs to look at the two different approaches to economic development.

Recent meetings between rural municipalities and urban areas who were affected by last year’s flooding with the provincial government’s disaster relief people shows that there is a wide difference of opinion between those most affected by the flooding and the bureaucrats in charge of remedying the damage. Our provincial government and its political masters have made many pronouncements over the last year about how quickly they are responding to the needs of people but the evidence is showing that this response has a whole bunch of conditions attached to it and that the cleanup is going to take much longer than anyone would like. The actions of agencies like Sask Power, the Watershed Authority and the inability of this government to manage uncontrolled drainage in this province needs to be the focus of a royal commission. Much of the reasons behind last year’s flooding, I believe, can be laid at the doorstep of various organizations controlled by the provincial government who have either been sacred cows or simply agencies that would perform unpopular political decisions and therefore the best option is to simply do nothing.

This province must have strong laws governing the draining and release of waters upon neighbouring land and communities without the proper licensing and public review being in place. It is time that these rural Sask Party MLAs stood up and performed the roles that are demanded of elected officials. It is not always popular to do the right thing but posterity demands that you do the right thing for the generations that come after. Obviously many of these people need to be replaced if they are not willing to do the job properly.

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

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