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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

The Saskatchewan Legislature reconvenes today. The PC Party of Saskatchewan will try to do its upmost to help hold this Sask Party government accountable and provide meaningful alternatives to many of its policies. I look forward to feedback from people that view and listen to this commentary.

I would also like to invite all of you to attend the PC Party’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday, April 13, 2013 at the Temple Gardens Mineral Spa in Moose Jaw. A $10.00 membership gives concerned citizens the opportunity to help build this Party into the much-needed alterative to the current government.
There must be a wide-ranging discussion about better ways to govern ourselves than we are seeing from the current government and the previous NDP one. This commentary needs to find its way into every household in Saskatchewan before the next election. Please check out our website for more information on the meeting and how to register and attend.

Two short weeks ago, SGI came out with their announcement to dramatically increase the price of motorcycle licenses. The upper management of SGI embarked on a PR campaign around the province speaking to the media, appearing on talk shows and addressing business groups on the validity of their reasons for increasing the rates. This was all about providing good insurance and not penalizing other drivers. Of course there was not a word said about the new dividend demands placed on SGI and the other Crown Corporations by the Wall government because they cannot manage their affairs in the midst of Saskatchewan’s so-called boom. The motorcycle riding public – to their credit – have mounted a wide spread, well-thought out campaign to refute this massive increase that SGI is proposing. Obviously, the message is starting to strike home.

Like many of you, I happened to be listening to Mr. Wall’s favourite open-mouth talk show on Friday. The Premier is now saying that he and his caucus are going to take a sober second look at these proposed increases. Of course he is very good at sounding contrite by saying that he just wants to provide good government and therefore he is going to have SGI take a second look at the proposed increases.

So in other words the two week PR campaign by SGI, which has a monopoly on parts of auto insurance in this province, was probably all for nothing. This Premier seems to think that Saskatchewan’s Crown Corporations are his own private play ground. He and his government had already taken large dividends in this past year and were claiming that they would balance the budget with the so-called rainy day fund. Now all of a sudden the reality of Mr. Wall’s spending choices have come home to roost and he has to go and find another $120 million to keep up the pretence of a balanced budget. This act of using the Crowns as his own private milk cow is totally unacceptable.

The Crown Corporations supposedly operate as businesses or so the Sask Party has maintained since forming government. Saskatchewan also has a rate review panel which is supposed to protect Saskatchewan consumers who have to use these monopoly Crowns from being gouged through excessive rate increases. Mr. Wall’s statements on Friday basically said that this whole structure is simply a charade. If he and his caucus take enough political heat, then all of these so-called sound business decisions taken by the Crowns and the corresponding rate review process means absolutely nothing if Mr. Wall and his friends feel that their political hides are at risk.

This attitude of political entitlement is exactly what the provincial auditor was talking about because it leads to the manipulation of the consolidated fund and does not show the true debt of the province which is only revealed on a summary financial basis. The Crowns will have to go out and borrow money to make up for the last minute plundering by Mr. Wall and the Sask Party. Those numbers should be revealed when these types of Crown dividends are demanded. The motorcycle industry has put two-and-two together and now understands why the dramatic rate increases in their licenses are all about. Any other explanation is simply expensive cover up and it should not be tolerated any more.

If we are going to have these monopoly Crowns – supposedly providing the lowest cost services possible to Saskatchewan people - they cannot be plundered at will by politicians. We will need more competition in the market place to protect consumers and we will need rate review panels that are totally independent of government and we finally must have legislative constraints on what politicians can do. This is not about Mr. Wall’s political well being. This should be about fair and equitable insurance rates, power rates, natural gas rates, telephone rates and anything else that the Crowns provide.

If we have that and summary financial statements at budget time, then at least we taxpayers can hopefully make well-informed decisions about the services provided to us and whether we can afford to operate things like a motorcycle in this province.

On a final note, I am scheduled for knee surgery next week so next week’s commentary will depend on how quick the recovery rate is on this old body.

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”.

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