We have all heard about the various means of social media which are so prevalent in our society today. In the last week, we have seen two examples of our media-savy Premier short-circuiting our bureaucratic and political systems.
When I was out on the tractor the other day I caught the Premier’s monthly appearance on the John Gormley show. I don’t normally listen to Gormley because he might as well be a paid employee of the Sask Party but there wasn’t much else on so I tuned in. A gentleman who was obviously a Canadian armed forces veteran phoned into the show and asked why veterans couldn’t get license plates for their motorcycles identifying the rider as a veteran. The Premier immediately said if they weren’t there, he would see to it that it was done. Nice gesture and I am sure the gentleman appreciated the positive response but I really wondered if it was proper for the Premier to short circuit the entire SGI auto fund and whatever costs would be incurred with developing a new license plate on the John Gormley show. There will be costs associated with this move. Items like this are normally thought out, budgeted and accounted for. As we all know, the costs incurred by the auto fund are paid for by you and me. It’s a great gesture that our veterans can identify themselves with their plates and we all owe the men and women who serve our country a debt of gratitude but I think it would be far more appropriate if Brad Wall would have said he would have the proper people look into his request rather than simply saying it’s a done deal because I’m the Premier and I can do whatever I want with the people’s money.
The second instance of this Brad Wall attitude of “I can do anything I want” was the recent news item of the 3-year old girl from Langenburg with a rare enzyme deficiency called MPS VI which is extremely rare and difficult to treat. A number of people began tweeting Brad Wall about this little girl’s situation because obviously our health care system is once again not working. The treatment for this little girl amounts to over $300,000 as I understand the news reports. The Premier committed to covering this expense over the twitisphere. Where were the high-priced health bureaucrats from the region that serves Langenburg and obviously were aware of this little girl’s medical condition? Where were the high-priced political staffers in the newly minted Minister of Health’s office when this little girl’s problem surfaced? Obviously a rare condition like this would have had risen to the top of mind of someone in our health structure. It’s good on the Premier to help this girl and her family get the medical help they need, however, why are we spending all of this money on a health system and structure that can’t respond to a unique situation like this. If this is the way that we all have to have our problems solved, then we can dispense with all of our high-priced politicians, our high-priced bureaucrats and indeed the entire Legislative Assembly and simply have Brad Wall appear on Gormley once a month and solve everyone’s problems. And for those of us that don’t or won’t tune into Gormley, we simply can fire up the iphone and get our problems looked after and to heck with setting budgets for anything. Sounds pretty simple and this system was tried about a thousand years ago but it didn’t work. The system was called “the divine right of kings” where the king sat in judgement of everyone’s request. People were not treated equally and the country was always broke. Our democratic system is based on the principle of equality and access and you get representation for the taxes you pay. This girl and her family should have received the attention and help they deserved without having to rely on a twitter campaign to the Premier and the same goes for the veteran and his colleagues who want license plates for their motorcycles.
The items that I talked about have all budget consequences which we all pay for. It was pointed out to me this last week by Chris Brown, PC candidate in Cannington in this last election, that in the government’s first quarter budget update which was released on the Friday before the August long weekend that the public debt in Saskatchewan including the crown sector has gone up by over a billion dollars in the last quarter - an increase of 13%. That is not a 13% increase on any new debt but a 13% increase on the total debt. That is a pile of money to be adding to Saskatchewan’s debt in a short time period. We have to have a responsible system of government that lives by its budgets and lives with the priorities that have been identified. Our system will not work if all of our problem solving is done by direct request of the Premier who then commits to fixing the problem without any idea of what the costs will be. The Government of Saskatchewan is not the private playground of the Premier. He should concentrate on making the people he appoints and who run our system be accountable to the rest of us. And if they don’t live up to the accountability, then the Premier should get rid of them and find someone else. When the responsibility starts at the top only then we will have a proper functioning system.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.