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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Here is a further note on last week’s commentary. The Premier went off to the First Ministers’ Meeting with his health care agenda - which was announced with much fanfare - only to have the Prime Minister quickly close the door on that subject. It is obvious that we in Saskatchewan must tackle our health care problems with our own made-in-Saskatchewan solutions. We are a growing province and a province blessed with resource wealth. We cannot expect other Canadians to pay for our own ineptitude. The solutions will be found when the public starts to demand more accountability from the politicians and starts to come up with innovative solutions by our own medical professionals.

As I mentioned last week, I had the opportunity to spend a few days at the Crop Production Week in Saskatoon mingling with many other agricultural producers and those people that support the agricultural industry. As James Yachyshen, past PC candidate in the Biggar constituency and I walked around at the show, it was easy to get into conversations with farmers and their suppliers about the changes that would occur because of the removal of single-desk selling from the CWB.

What became very apparent early on in these conversations was that people did not appreciate the extremes on either side of this debate. Those extremes are the “in-your-face” approach of Federal Minister Ritz to the class action law suit launched by big-time Regina Liberal lawyer Tony Merchant which would see the assets of the CWB sold off and the cash distributed to all farmers in western Canada that sign up for the lawsuit. Both of these gentlemen, in my view, will not arrive at the middle ground consensus working arrangements which we are all going to need to make our farming decisions. The majority of farmers simply want to make a living and they want as many tools available to them as possible so that they can make good economic decisions for their farms and for their families. Ideology has never paid the bills or put food on the table for the majority of people. My take on three days of wandering around the show and at various commodity meetings is that people want to see a viable wheat board offering good marketing opportunities along with the existing private companies and processors.

This means Mr. Ritz and the Federal Government need to step up and give the CWB the necessary tools to be competitive and to provide the marketing opportunities for Canadian grain that they have successfully done with our overseas customers for many decades. At the end of the day, these long-term commercial arrangements with satisfied customers world-wide are our most important asset in the farming business. We cannot consume domestically 1/10th of what we produce. We must market world-wide. The CWB has the ability to do that and I would hate to lose that window on the world. The majority of agricultural producers and the suppliers that James and I talked to were on the same wave length. The PC Party needs to stand up for that principle.

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

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