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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

I am happy to report that there are over 1600 happy and tired souls leaving the CCI 100th reunion in Moose Jaw this past weekend and I am one of them. One hundred years for any institution is certainly an achievement and catching up with old acquaintances, classmates and the odd old “date” takes a lot of energy. We need to have some of that kind of energy to rebuild the PC Party of Saskatchewan.

We had another fly over by a politician this past week. In this case, it was the Prime Minister and thankfully there was a commitment of some financial resources to the plight of drowned out Saskatchewan farmers, towns and cities. Unfortunately, ad hoc payments of $30.00/acre do not satisfy the agricultural problems and the urban areas seem to have excessively long waits before money begins to flow. Farmers need predictable revenue insurance plans that they can invest in instead of waiting for government handouts. Urban people in Canada, who are the vast majority, see numbers like $480 million being thrown around by politicians and the media, think that it is a lot of their tax money going toward something that doesn’t benefit them directly. If this year’s weather-related disasters don’t drive home to the decision makers the fact that the current agricultural support systems are not functioning, then nothing will.

Mediocre programs work when nothing goes wrong and that’s about all the current crop insurance and Agristability programs do. They are sort of like peeing in your pants – you have that nice warm feeling as it runs down your leg and then runs into your boot and then the cold reality comes home that you’ve got a wreck on your hands. The only thing that is going to fix it is a new pair of pants and some dry boots. We need politicians, especially in Saskatchewan both provincially and federally, who are prepared to go to bat on our behalf to come up with something long-term, predictable and economically feasible. The next time we have a wreck, we don’t want a bunch of politicians flying over, holding a news conference, not answering questions and leaving all in the same day.

The new finance Minister, Mr. Krawetz, is already speculating about how much money the “flooding” is going to cost the Saskatchewan government so I suspect that the budget numbers may not be quite as rosy as projected. If the government had not been so quick to strip away the rainy day fund to balance a budget that wasn’t balanced anyway, then there would be sufficient monies to look after the problems of Saskatchewan citizens that have not been of their own making. That is the job of our elected officials – to come to the aid of their citizens and not whine about it. Hopefully, there will be sufficient funds to look after the many problems that have been created over the last few months by Mother Nature. These problems may continue for several months yet as we are just getting into the hail and tornado seasons. Hopefully Saskatchewan will be lucky for the rest of the year.

It looks like our power bills are going to go up by 4.5% on average. This means that rates for farmers and business customers will probably be higher in order to keep the rates at lower levels for residential customers. We all know that you have to constantly replace infrastructure but with the recent shuffling of Crown presidents, putting a non-electrical guy in as president of SaskPower and hiring an insurance salesman friend of the Premier - Mr. Doherty as a vice president, it really makes one wonder how well our electrical utility will be run in the next year. Crown corporations should be run as the lowest cost service provider they can possibly be while maintaining their infrastructure and providing good service. They should not be cash cows for the government or places to sequester your political friends until you can find a better job for them. If they are going to be run in this fashion, they might as well be privatized.

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