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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

As I sit and watch the rain falling outside on my unseeded land this morning, I am having some of the same thoughts of hopelessness that many Saskatchewan people must be feeling after last Friday’s provincial cabinet shuffle. Two inches of rain over the last two days is very disheartening and not what Saskatchewan needs right now. This crop is very important to the farmers of Saskatchewan and to our provincial economy. Having Bill Boyd as the super-minister of economics in Saskatchewan is also very disheartening and points to the abject failure of Brad Wall’s Sask Party economic development plans for Saskatchewan.

If one looks closely at Friday’s cabinet shuffle, two things become very clear. Number one is that a lot of Wall’s ministers were not up to the mark and were underachieving or were consistently putting their foot in their mouth. The second is that there must be a real lack of trustworthy talent in that caucus if everything has to be consolidated around the Premier and one key minister who is part of Wall’s small inner circle. It must be galling to ministers like Tim McMillan and Don McMorris to have to work underneath Boyd. Where are all the new bright shining lights that were supposedly elected in last fall’s Sask Party landslide? Apparently being a long-time friend of the Premier’s is the golden ticket to get into cabinet. The fact that Wall has had to bring back 3 people who proved totally inadequate in their first go-round speaks volumes about his confidence in some of the others. This whole session of the Legislature and this cabinet shuffle seems to be more about looking after the interests of the Sask Party and its hold on power than doing what Saskatchewan needs.

The abject failure of Enterprise Saskatchewan has now clearly been exposed. This has not been a government concerned about wealth creation. This has been a government quite happy to maintain the status quo, avoid some of the tough decisions that are needed and look after the interests of the party and its friends. This province must find ways to value-add our resources and must put in place the regimes necessary for long-term growth and job creation. Some would argue that they have done this with the potash industry. I totally disagree because the potash industry had the built-in capacity already in place to meet new demand and it is obvious from recent world prices that much of the expansion capability will not be used but Saskatchewan taxpayers will be paying for it for a long time. This is a process that was started by the NDP and was convenient for the Sask Party to keep in place. This is not creating the value-added jobs that we need in this province in the future. We must move on from simply being suppliers of raw resources to other jurisdictions so that the value adding can occur there along with the jobs that go with it.

Super ministries have been tried in the past. It was certainly tried in the government in which I served. It didn’t work then and I don’t believe it will work today. It seems to be the natural reaction of Premiers and governments that when things are not going according to plan, you try and consolidate all of the political power into a few hands and try and direct everything from the top. Politics is a team sport and you are only as good as the last guy in the batting line up. If you don’t trust him to swing the bat, it is pretty easy to start pitching around the big hitters and the losers in all of this will be the taxpayers of Saskatchewan and the young people who are our future.

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

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