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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Talk about the proverbial rude welcome home as we stepped off the airplane last Thursday evening to -28C with the wind blowing. It was great to get away for a couple of weeks and see a different part of the world, talk to different people and realize what a great place Saskatchewan is.

The entire focus of the United States seems to be on “Obama Care” these days and all of the fumbling that the US government is going through trying to implement a national health care program. In a heavily Republican state like Arizona, you certainly meet mainly detractors of the proposal. As a Canadian who has had national health care for over 40 years, it is hard to imagine why there is so much in the way of anger and protest but then again our system is far from perfect and change is never easy for anyone when it comes to the basics of health care and how it affects you and your family.

When we left two weeks ago, there wasn’t much going on in the Saskatchewan Legislature that grabbed anyone’s interest. Our Saskatchewan Roughriders and their successful march to the Grey Cup was all anyone talked about and what a great victory it was! It is interesting to come home to an entirely different atmosphere. Two items have reared their ugly heads once again for our Sask Party government. Both of these issues have been talked about in this column for many years and the PC Party has put forward policy positions on both issues over the last couple of elections which I believe, if adopted, would put these two issues in their proper perspective.

I am, of course, talking about the Provincial Auditor’s report which left no doubt in anyone’s mind that the financial books of Saskatchewan are not to be trusted and that our government has been lying to us for many years on the health of Saskatchewan’s finances. The other issue is the huge layoffs in the potash mining industry, the fall of potash prices and the lack of royalty return to Saskatchewan people who own the resources. Put these two together and Brad Wall, Ken Krawetz and Bill Doyle have certainly thrown a lump of coal into Saskatchewan’s Christmas stocking.

In the Saskatchewan Legislature, you are not allowed to accuse someone of lying. In my career, I only did it once. I accused Roy Romanow of lying to Saskatchewan people about the level of debt that was left by the PC administration of the 1980s. My accusation was correct and was verified by the Gas Commission implemented by Mr. Romanow’s government. Speaker Rolfes asked me three times to retract the statement. I refused, was thrown out of the Legislature and docked a days pay. I would do it again. For the life of me I do not understand why members of the current NDP opposition are not standing up on their back legs and doing the same thing. I have no doubt that Speaker D’Autremont would throw them out but sometimes that’s what it takes to get the public’s attention. I guess Grant Schmidt and I are going to have to go down to the Legislative Building and get thrown out of the building again to get some attention on this matter. Saskatchewan must have only one set of books and that is a summary financial statement. Anything else is a lie and a massive fraud.

Last week’s announcement by PCS that they were laying off 440 of their workers in Saskatchewan and dramatically curtailing production at the Lanigan and Cory mines is proof positive that the hundreds of millions of tax credits showered on the potash industry by the Wall government is no guarantee of growing the potash business. People have probably forgotten that the NDP government of Allan Blakeney spent hundreds of millions of dollars – doubling the size of the Lanigan mine when it was a Crown Corporation. That expansion in the 1970s guaranteed an over supply of potash in the world and drove the price down. PCS will now use the taxpayer-funded expansion at Rocanville to meet their contractual demands and use the tax credits against the royalties we normally would get.

The PC Party proposed legislation before the last provincial election which I believe if implemented, would open up debate and transparency in the potash industry. Saskatchewan people need to have a proper window on their potash resource and make informed decisions rather than a few people in the Premier’s office getting together with potash company executives to come up with various schemes over the years. All of the potash workers, their families and the communities they support deserve better than the policies we have seen from the Sask Party government and the NDP one before it when it comes to the managing of our massive potash resource. I am sure those workers that just received their layoff notices will be relieved by Bill Boyd saying there are thousands of jobs on saskjobs.ca for them to apply for so they shouldn’t be out of work for very long. Maybe someone is building a Tim Horton’s in Lanigan for them to work in.

It is time Mr. Wall to open the books of your government and have an open discussion in the Legislative Assembly and across Saskatchewan about our finances and our potash.

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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