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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

The political landscape of Canada had a huge surprise last week. Against all the predictions and commentary from the political pundants and some of Saskatchewan’s well-known media commentators, Alison Redford won a resounding victory in the province of Alberta and the Progressive Conservatives will govern again for 4 more years.

It appears that being “progressive” as well as “conservative” is not such a bad thing. When faced with the prospect of Alberta going back in time, the voters stepped up to the plate and said that they wanted to give Ms Redford’s message of progressive change a chance to take Alberta forward. Unfortunately, a lot of the federal Conservative Party in Alberta openly supported the Wild Rose Party so it will be very interesting to see what happens when the next round of nominations take place for federal seats in that province. I also didn’t notice much enthusiasm for Ms Redford’s type of conservatism here in the province of Saskatchewan from either the Sask Party or some of the federal members here. Being a conservative in the mould of John Diefenbaker, Robert Stanfield and others who have a progressive bent is not such a bad thing in Canadian politics and I can only wish Ms Redford and her government all the best and continued success at growing the province of Alberta just like other Progressive Conservatives have done for the last 41 years.

Our provincial Sask Party government has once again proven that the message of austerity only applies to the folks who aren’t well connected to their government. The government announced on Friday that they would be filling the newest Hill Tower in Regina with civil servants and that the rates they are going to pay would be higher than their current rent in other buildings not owned by the government. They are trying to justify this by saying that they will pack more people into the same square footage. I have no idea what the current leases are but it seems that every time Mr. Hill’s company builds a new building, Mr. Wall finds a way to fill it up so that Mr. Hill doesn’t have any worry about paying for his buildings. If you remember when Mr. Wall gave the potash companies the special taxpayer-paid tax credits for head office potash employees, they conveniently all ended up in Mr. Hill’s new building. It must be nice to have this special relationship with the Premier because people in the film industry, our local economic development folks, people in the tourism industry and our senior citizens sure don’t fall into that category.

I’ve always wondered what it would be like to sell all of my crops for the next 25 years at a guaranteed profit without having to worry about expenses, changes in the weather, market fluctuations and anything else that might arise in life because that is what Mr. Wall has done with taxpayers’ money in downtown Regina for Mr. Hill. I think it is time that we go to an open government tendering process for the procurement of government office space. The cost of renting versus owning should be clearly spelled out and there has to be the opportunity for public accountability in government leasing in this day and age.

On a final note, the Saskatchewan motor club, CAA, once again ran the worst highway in the province competition. This an event that unfortunately has become an annual assessment of the deplorable condition of Saskatchewan’s highways. The old saying of “what goes around comes around” is certainly true with Saskatchewan’s highways because when the Sask Party was in opposition, they would gleefully take this list to the Legislature and rightly show that Saskatchewan’s highways were in deplorable conditions. Highway #22 which is north of Regina is once again at the top of the list and this is after 5 years of Sask Party government. This particular highway was one that the Sask Party brought to the attention of the Legislature 7 years ago. You would have thought that maybe it would have been one of the first to get fixed after having so much attention brought to it. I can only imagine what it must be like for local residents trying to negotiate that particular piece of road day after day. After having driven through 5 states recently on lots of 2-lane secondary highways, it is obvious that in this province there are 2 things that need to happen. We have to learn how to build a road properly in the first place and secondly we have to learn how to maintain them so that the same pothole is not being fixed month after month, year after year and decade after decade. Obviously most other places in North America have figured it out. It’s time Saskatchewan did too.

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

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