It appears that Steve McLellan, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, has joined an exclusive club that up until now only belonged to Rick Swenson and Grant Schmidt. This club belongs to people who believe that the Saskatchewan Legislature belongs to the people of Saskatchewan and is the place that issues pertaining to the well-being of our province should be aired.
The Saskatchewan Legislature is not the exclusive domain of whatever political parties happen to be represented in the Legislative Assembly at any given time. Mr. McLellan had the audacity to join with members of the Saskatchewan Film Industry to talk about a study which they jointly undertook that shows the widespread benefits that Saskatchewan’s film industry brought to our province. These individuals met with reporters in the rotunda of the Legislative Building which for those of you that visited the building, is the large open area in the middle of the building and has always been a focus for thousands of public events throughout our history.
It now seems that if anyone shows up at the Legislative Building with views or arguments or information which does not put this Sask Party government in a good light, you are now banned for airing that view anywhere in the people’s building without permission of the Speaker of the Assembly. Mr. McLellan received the same sentence as Grant Schmidt and I did. He must report to security at the front door as we all do but then he must be escorted by security guards to Dan D’Autremont’s office and seek permission to go anywhere else, to talk to anyone else – or in other words – he must inform the Sask Party of what he is doing and about to say. Even though Dan D’Autremont is the Speaker and supposedly impartial in the Chamber, make no doubt about it – he is a Sask Party MLA and when the House is not in session, he sits in the Sask Party caucus.
We have recently seen the Sask Party majority impose three new MLAs upon this province whether we need them or not. They were able to do this because the committee that decides such things is only made up of the Parties that are represented in the Legislature. All other political parties in the province and the views of the people they represent were excluded from what should be one of our most fundamental, democratic exercises and that is how we choose the people who will represent us. This old boy’s network system that we currently have is not only archaic but counter to many of our democratic principles and must be changed.
The study that Mr. McLellan was there talking about happened because of rash decisions made in the last budget. These decisions were not researched. They were based purely on philosophical and partisan, political grounds. It is absolutely right and appropriate that decisions like this should be questioned. Counter arguments and documentation should be presented and this should be done at a place and time that gets the attention of the decision makers in this province. In my view, there is no better place than the Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan when the House is in session. This particular study was presented without either of the two political parties in the Legislature i.e. the Sask Party and the NDP being there as sponsors of the news conference. This came from concerned taxpayers and citizens and this is the appropriate way, in my view, for our citizens to express themselves.
This reaction must make Saskatchewan a laughing stock around our country. It should be totally appropriate for anyone to walk in, tell the security guard at the front door that you are here to talk to the media about issues important to Saskatchewan and if you are not bringing in a bunch of rabble-rousers or known anarchists with you then you should not pose a security risk. If you are not going off to Ministers’ offices or wandering the building, than the current staff should be able to keep an eye on those in attendance. The media in this province are fairly savy about sorting out the nut fringe from reality and if the persons involved have nothing valid to say, no one will bother to show up to listen to their particular concern. If the views of Saskatchewan citizens require a couple of more security guards being hired to watch over them, I believe that would be a far better expenditure of taxpayers’ money than adding 3 new MLAs would be. The people would get more satisfaction that way.
In closing, I believe it is imperative that this building, which is the largest symbol of our democracy, be available to the people of this province for their use as their forum. This building does not belong to Brad Wall and his friends.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.