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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Everyone in Saskatchewan is aware that the Sask Party coasted to an easy victory in Saskatoon Northwest. It was one of the quietest by-election events that I have ever been around. It was as if all of the main players wanted the whole thing to slip by without anyone noticing. I want to congratulate Manny Sonnenschein, the Progressive Conservative candidate, for all the extremely hard work, dedication and long hours that he put in waving to the constituents at 6:30 AM, 5 days a week and knocking every door in the constituency with the help of a few friends and fellow PCs.

Unfortunately because of the Party’s very limited resources and the limited resources available from local fundraising, it is impossible to mount the kind of campaign that would have been necessary to affect the outcome in Saskatoon Northwest. Manny personalized the campaign with local issues to try and carve out a different type of message to the voters. Obviously the results showed that the low voter turnout and the overwhelming financial capability of the Sask Party with their millions of dollars and their ability to keep our millions of dollars away prevented the P.C. Party being able to present its alternative and meant that the outcome was difficult to change in 28 days. Some valuable lessons were learned and will be kept in mind for the upcoming general election which will happen in a little more than a year from now.

The media has been filled the last week or so about pronouncements by both the Sask Party Premier and the NDP Leader about how they will look after Saskatchewan’s interest in the potash business. We now seem to have a game of one-upmanship with both parties saying basically the same thing, that they will discourage BHP-Billiton from coming to the province and doing business. Perhaps BHP-Billiton is not the greatest corporate entity to grace the roads and streets of Saskatchewan but they are awfully good at what they do. As I said in the news release and Letter to the Editor which I put out last Friday, the potash playing field in Saskatchewan has gotten horribly skewed in favour of the companies that currently operate here. I would think that if we are not going to have Billiton as a successful bidder for PCS and that would be up to either the shareholders of PCS or the Federal Government to decide, it would be unfortunate to not still have them come with their cash and expertise to help develop the industry.

When the P.C. Party was in power, we always attempted to find ways to work with a whole host of different large multi-national companies to help develop our resources in a beneficial and cooperative way so that Saskatchewan could prosper with long-term jobs, royalties and taxes. People like Weyerhaeuser, Husky, FCL, Cargill and others came with their corporate knowledge, expertise and cheque books. Perhaps what needs to happen to the potash business in Saskatchewan is that we need to go back to square one so that everyone is on a more even playing field. The Saskatchewan taxpayer must be protected and we must keep welcoming people here and companies here who wish to be good corporate citizens. It is really backwards when it is more advantageous to buy an existing company and go through all of the machinations that it involves than it is to simply go and build your own mining facility and manage your own business. I cannot see where giving out $100,000 taxpayer-funded tax credits to potash companies for employees that should have been here anyways is the right way to build a thriving industry and be the worlds dominate player.

PS – I know I indicated last week that MMC would be a day late because of the by-election in Saskatoon Northwest. Well it now appears that it’s another day late because 2 fine gentlemen, Bob Ferguson and Dan Sloan, from Nova Scotia and friends of Joanne and mine for many years, had driven all the way from Halifax to have some goose hunting and fellowship with yours truly. They did not know that harvest wouldn’t begin until October and that Brad Wall would be inconsiderate enough to call a by-election in Saskatoon. So because they are leaving tomorrow, there had to be a little bit of goose hunting done before the MMC was sent out. I am sure everyone understands my dilemma.

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