The number one question on everyone’s mind in Saskatchewan is ……will winter never end? Joanne and I drove to Regina on Saturday and once again, #1 highway was covered with blowing snow and ice and we had to follow a snowplough for most of the trip. Someone said that if we make it to the 23rd (which is tomorrow), most of Saskatchewan will have been snow covered for a full 6 months. Whatever happened to global warming?
Last week at the PC Party Annual General Meeting, we bestowed a much-deserved Life Membership to Dr. Peter Matthews of Saskatoon. Dr. Matthews is a Past President of the PC Party and someone who has believed in and fought for our Party’s values for a very long time. It is people like Dr. Matthews who have contributed so much to the well-being of our province. Congratulations to Dr. Matthews on this well-deserved award.
I would also like to congratulate the people in the Regina and Moose Jaw areas for the great job they did in hosting the Juno Awards. Although I did not attend any of the celebrations or concerts in the two cities (too busy calving), but in talking to people who did, it seems that everything went off according to plan in spite of our crappy April weather. Watching the red carpet procession last night, the cheers for the performers was a show of Saskatchewan’s appreciation for artistic talent. I also enjoyed reading the interviews that were done with some of Saskatchewan’s past Juno award winners and their comments about how the artistic community has suffered because of the ideological dumb-ass decision to kill the film industry in Saskatchewan. It was very hypocritical to see Brad Wall wanting to claim centre stage at the Junos among the very artistic community that has been driven from this province.
You have heard me comment many times on the fact that we are missing the boat by not doing more processing of our oil and gas resources in western Canada. There was an excellent article in this past week’s Western Producer talking about the rising input costs associated with agriculture. The article pointed out that there is currently at least a 40,000 barrels per day deficit in diesel fuel supplies in western Canada. That means for our agricultural endeavours, our food supply transportation, our mining and oil industries and for the export of all of our commodities that we are price-takers when it comes to diesel fuel instead of price setters.
You all know that when any commodity is in scarce supply, the chances are that this commodity will have a price attached to it that will be commanding a premium. So on one hand we have some of the lowest-priced raw oil in North America and on the other, we pay the highest price for the finished product. I think there is something wrong with this picture. Diesel fuel is one of the key ingredients that drives the economy of western Canada. We are the economic driver for Canada right now. It makes no sense to me that this current situation which is not going to get better in the near future is not garnering more attention from the people who set public policy in western Canada and nationally.
This situation has been developing over the last half dozen years and we have had no one in our current government with any forethought or vision to see that this situation should not have happened. This province for many years did well in this regard because the former PC government, against much criticism from its political opponents and big American oil companies, partnered with Federated Co-op and Husky Oil to ensure that value-added processing of oil and gas occurred here at home in their refineries at Regina and Lloydminster. We all saw what happened last year when a fire at the Co-op Refinery shut down 20% of the diesel fuel production for a good chunk of western Canada. Without those two refineries, where would the diesel fuel have come from and at what cost? How much of the current Saskatchewan boom would not be occurring today?
The article in the Western Producer pointed out that if there is a glitch in the production systems in western Canada this spring when so much diesel fuel is going to be burned trying to get this late starting crop in the ground, we could be back in a situation where there will not be enough to go around.
Mr. Wall and his friends have been making a big thing out of their “grow Saskatchewan” strategy and particularly how they are going to grow Saskatchewan’s agricultural production. I would like to know how that is going to happen if we are continually in a diesel fuel deficit. Mr. Wall loves to get himself in front of the TV cameras with his trusted aids circled all around him for the world to see making grandiose announcements. It would be nice if there was a little bit of vision along with the glitz and glamour. The real demonstration of leadership is doing the grunt work behind the scenes with potential partners, industry players and being prepared to use your clout in strategic places. This is all done away from the TV cameras and it doesn’t seem to be the forte of Mr. Wall and his friends because they don’t get their instant political gratification out of it.
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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.