Another week gone by and another foot of snow or that is what it seems like. It might be a bit of an exaggeration but the politician in me does come out once in a while when I am talking about things that cause me great discontent.
Speaking of a winter of discontent, there is a subject that seems to crop up with people no matter where I run into them. In the first week of January, I attended a large SARM district meeting in Regina and last week I was at the Crop Production Show in Saskatoon for three days. In both settings, the conversation of foreign ownership of Saskatchewan farmland came up over and over again. It is really becoming evident to rural people in particular that our farmland resource and the people who make their living from it are crucial to the well-being of Saskatchewan.
Because we have nearly half the arable land in Canada, agricultural production has always been a big topic in Saskatchewan and something that must be paid attention to by policy makers. Most Saskatchewan people who are directly or indirectly involved in agriculture felt that it was important for other Canadians to be able to invest in and bring their expertise to agricultural production in Saskatchewan. I don’t think anyone anticipated that the removal of the restrictions on other Canadians would bring about the sudden appearance of land-owning companies whose sole purpose is to amass large holdings which can be flipped at some point in the future simply for personal profit of the proponents.
No one anticipated that Saskatchewan people and other Canadians would become conduits for foreign money to come in and amass large chunks of Saskatchewan farmland. Our government claims that this is not happening but Saskatchewan people have the feeling that something has gone amiss and they are not trusting the words coming out of the government’s mouth these days. It is very evident from talking with people across this province that they want assurances that the people who are buying Saskatchewan farmland have every intention of being here to actually farm, purchase goods and services and be part of the framework of rural Saskatchewan.
I don’t really care what the colour of a person’s skin is, what religion they practice or if they practice one at all when it comes to people wishing to come here and participate in agriculture. But what I believe needs to happen as it did with the Homestead Act when many of our ancestors came here and proved up their quarter sections is that people who wish to come and purchase our farmland actually come here and be part of our communities, buy their goods and services like the rest of us and maybe show us new and better ways to make our province productive. If this requires legislative change to make this happen, then it is something our politicians need to get done and done soon.
There is a growing sense across this province from people that I have talked to that believe some of our politicians maybe too close to some of the people in the land acquisition business. They want their politicians to understand what is needed is people - real farm families - coming to rural Saskatchewan to put down roots not the sweet words of some carpet bagger who is simply looking for a quick profit down the road. Both the provincial and federal governments need to take this matter very seriously. They need to look at who Farm Credit Canada is lending money to and they need to make sure that citizenship and its rights and privileges go along with the purchase of our farmland. This is a resource that Canada and Saskatchewan should be proud of and we do not want to simply be the hewers of wood and drawers of water for outsiders and foreign countries.
Your feedback is welcome on anything you see in the Monday Morning Commentary. Please send your comments to contact @pcsask.ca. If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address. Also – don’t forget to check out our website at pcsask.ca.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.