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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

It is not often that Saskatchewan gets a foot of snow the 2nd week of November but it does happen and this last weekend is a reminder to all of us that you always have to be prepared for the worst. There are lots of stories going around about people getting stuck and requiring someone’s assistance to get out of a bad situation. In Saskatchewan unfortunately, we sometimes get a full six months of winter and we had better be prepared to deal with it. That means having your vehicle outfitted with the necessary survival gear and not taking chances when the road conditions are really bad. We have already had the first snowmobiler through the ice and unfortunately because of the heavy snow cover, we probably will have more because our water bodies will not freeze over as quickly with all of this snow cover on top.

Because of the weather, many of us were not able to attend the Remembrance Day services around the province but it is always appropriate at this time of the year to think about and give thanks for the sacrifices that men and women have made on behalf of our country in the various conflicts which Canada has been called to serve in. This is the greatest sacrifice anyone can make when they lay their life on the line in the service of their country and their fellow citizens. Canadians do not take lightly going to war but when we go, we give everything that we have and so it is right and proper to honour these individuals and it is not something we should do only once a year.

The Sask Party government never ceases to amaze me with their appointments process. Against the overwhelming will of the tourism industry, the government got rid of Lynda Haverstock and an industry run tourism board and replaced it with a crown corporation. It was announced last week that this crown corporation is now going to be run by – surprise, surprise – retiring Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco for a cool $175,000 a year salary. It should also be mentioned that Pat Fiacco’s brother ran for the Sask Party in the last election. If there was a hunt for a CEO, I would like to know who else was on the short list. You have heard me comment in past commentaries about this move in the tourism industry – a move that I believe was implemented so that friends of the government will have access to property and business opportunities associated with provincial lands, parks and water bodies. They also did not like the idea that independent-minded business people were making decisions that went counter to what the government’s bureaucrats were demanding. The former tourism board was a very lien, well-run organization of stakeholders who were using as much third party financing as possible. A government crown being run by the former big-spending Mayor of Regina will not be as lien or in my view, productive.

If you noticed in Brad Wall’s economic plan, he has this new pot of money supposedly for infrastructure in the province that involves third party entities. At the time, I wondered how some of those funds would end up in the new stadium project in Regina and I am sure there will be now a tourism component to make that happen. Maybe I am way out on a limb on this one and I guess time will tell. Mr. Fiacco did a good job of promoting the City of Regina and certainly his electoral record proves that the City endorsed his time as Mayor. I think the last election also proved though that there are a lot of taxpayers both in Regina and around the province who believe that politicians should not have a free reign with the taxpayers’ money when it comes to mega-projects like the stadium proposal in Regina. Maybe one of the first things that Mr. Fiacco should do is take some of his taxpayer-paid monies and settle with former Tourism CEO Lynda Haverstock instead of letting that issue drag for as long as it has. This situation is a total lack of respect for the contribution that Ms Haverstock has made to the province. The government has the right to dismiss her but they also have the responsibility to step up and finish the affair in a proper manner.

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

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