Call it coincidence but the day after last Monday’s commentary (which came out on Tuesday because of the holiday), the NDP got off their collective duffs and raised the Pat Fiacco appointment in the Legislature. This issue also hit Murray Mandryk’s column in the Leader Post. Good on both of them for bringing this issue to the attention of Saskatchewan people. If I can get this kind of attention out of Monday Morning’s commentary, it is certainly worth the effort to bring issues like this to the forefront. The Sask Party appointment process on this one and a lot of other ones leaves a lot to be desired. Saskatchewan taxpayers deserve better from their government. This is just another indication of Mr. Wall and his friend’s contempt for the public.
Speaking of contempt, Don Morgan’s spilling the details of the Sask Party’s new labour legislation at the North Saskatoon Business luncheon last Friday is utter contempt for the Legislative Assembly and what it is supposed to stand for – for Saskatchewan people. The Legislative Assembly is where the duly-elected members get to see a government’s proposed legislative changes before they are released to the general public. A good government does its due-diligence with a widely-held discussion with stakeholders, interest groups and the public at large when contemplating new legislation. That legislation is then brought forward in the Legislature and then all aspects of the public can make their comments in many different forms. If we are not going to follow this format, then why bother having all of these high-priced MLAs sitting there supposedly ready to follow the public’s wishes? We can spend $85,000 per member in more important places if they are not there to do the public’s work.
What Minister Morgan did shows a total lack of respect for this very important part of our parliamentary democracy. What he was doing in my view was simply pandering to some of the Sask Party’s largest donors and therefore thinking more about the interests of the Sask Party and its leadership than bringing forth good legislation and good due process. The labour leaders in this province have certainly done things over time which does not engender good feelings from the public. The Sask Party is taking full advantage of this ill-will to jam through massive changes to labour law in this province without good due diligence. The fact that they would unroll a good portion of the proposed changes to labour law in this way simply panders to the worst elements of our political system and is more about pay-back than good public policy. The NDP opposition needs to get up on their hind legs and make this issue something the public feels strongly about. This is not about just their friends in the union leadership positions. Our democracy is far more than pro-union or anti-union sentiments. It is about dignity and respect.
Speaking of respect, it appears more and more this year that there is not much of that for the Sask Party’s budgetary process when it comes to forecasting potash revenue. We have seen more massive shut-ins of production and laying off of workers in mines across Saskatchewan. Accordingly to the companies, this is because India and China have not stepped up with new potash purchases. The Sask Party government must have known that this is always a distinct possibility that off-shore customers either do not need the production, are unhappy with the current prices or their economic circumstances has changed so that they do not have the dollars to spend. Saskatchewan’s budgetary process needs to have these considerations built in and not simply rely upon the Sask Party’s Finance Minister to say “oops!” when things don’t go right.
What this tells me, and I think reinforces with people around this province, is that it is imperative that we come up with a different system of judging royalties and what the pay-back is to the owners of this resource – the people of this province. The PC Party’s proposal put forward before the last provincial election that a mandatory review at least every four years of potash royalties and other resource royalties makes eminent sense. What also makes eminent sense is that Saskatchewan needs to move to a tonnage-based royalty structure. The old ways of trying to manipulate price by shutting in production and laying workers off to the EI system will not function when new companies and increased tonnage hit the marketplace. This is the type of issue that the PC Party should be able to take to the rotunda of the Legislative Building without fear of being banned from the building.
This is something that must be talked about now – not during election campaigns and certainly not put off so that Mr. Wall can get through another campaign without dealing with the tough issues.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.