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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

It now looks like there will be somewhere between 10 and 12 million unseeded acres in Saskatchewan. This is an unprecedented number in our province’s history and will take a very concerted effort by both provincial and federal governments to come up with equitable solutions.

Unfortunately, what we are seeing now is a game of one-up-manship with
Mr. Lingenfelter saying that unseeded acres should be worth $100/acre and
Mr. Wall and Mr. Bjornerud are busy “flying” over the affected farms and trying to dampen expectations. Obviously what is needed and has been needed ever since the NDP cancelled the GRIP program back in 1993-94, is a farm program that doesn’t rely on the whims of politicians. The vast majority of Canadians who are not farmers or who are not directly tied to agriculture will never understand large sums of money being thrown out on an ad hoc basis. The Sask Party government has financial issues because of their deficit financing and also has high expectations because rural Saskatchewan has been supporting them for the last 3 elections. Mr. Wall will be under a lot of pressure to come up with some money fairly quickly and will have to have the support of the federal government to do so. We cannot have the situation that occurred in the cattle industry where money shows up a year after the fact which has been the history of both CAIS and AgriStability. I would really appreciate input from any of you involved in agriculture or anyone that has alternative ideas so that the PC Party’s position on this issue is one of common sense and fiscal responsibility.

There have been rumours of a possible cabinet shuffle. It’s a good chance that Rod Gantefoer will no longer be in Finance due to health reasons that he announced several months ago. The $2 billion miscalculation on potash revenue has also been weighing heavily on the Sask Party government and they would like people to forget about that boondoggle. A fresh face is needed in several of the various portfolios because many Ministers have been less than stellar in their interaction with Saskatchewan people. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Wall has the courage to send the under-achievers to the back bench or simply move them sideways so that they can mess up another portfolio.

Something has to change when even the financial reporter for the Leader-Post begins to weigh in on the Sask Party advertising as he did this last Saturday’s issue. Bruce Johnstone points out in his article some things which many of us have suspected for some time that the government’s debt and deficit numbers are not accurate. The growth in the economy is not what they are claiming and certain sectors of our society are really feeling the pinch. It is a good article to get a hold of to read. The Acting Provincial Auditor has also entered the debt and deficit issue recently by saying that it is unsustainable to keep taking all of the profits out of the Crown Corporations without leaving money in place for infrastructure and renewal. Won’t it be a shame if their mismanagement means that there is not enough money for agriculture and all the devastation caused by the recent flooding around the province when people most need the help. Maybe they should concentrate their efforts on rebuilding the TransCanada highway near Maple Creek instead of the expected announcement of a domed-stadium in Regina. Just a thought – what do you think?

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

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