I know this commentary is out of its normal time slot in the week but there has been a lot going on and I wanted to have the ability to comment on a number of different events and issues that have happened over the last two weeks.
First of all, I am extremely pleased to be able to tell you that the PC Party of Saskatchewan has hired a new Executive Director. The gentleman in question is Mr. Dale Burnay, formerly of Assiniboia, Saskatchewan. Dale and his wife Cindy have just recently moved to Moose Jaw and he will be working out of the Moose Jaw office full time. Dale brings a host of experience in a number of areas - having worked his entire life in the financial services industry, being a strong community-minded person wherever he has lived and also having a lifelong passion for politics having served at both the federal, provincial and civic levels. Dale grew up on a farm at Fife Lake, SK and still has interest in the farm with other family members. I am sure that Dale would welcome the opportunity to chat with anyone that views this commentary. If you have a chance, give Dale a call at (306) 693-7572.
On another note, I am sad to say that Gerald Arundel of Saskatoon passed away just recently. Gerald served for many years on the PC Party Executive as Secretary and brought many years of political experience to the Executive committee. Our prayers and thoughts are with Gerald's family and friends at this time.
During the last week and a half, I had the opportunity to attend the Legislature, go the SARM convention as an RM Councilor and like many of you, viewed the latest Saskatchewan provincial budget on Wednesday. During this whole process, I had the opportunity to view both the government and opposition in action. What was very apparent through each one of these exercises is that the Sask Party is all about Brad Wall and the NDP opposition seems to be only interested in their base supporters. For the first time in the last 7 years, Saskatchewan is starting to feel the pinch of reduced commodity prices, slowing demand for commodities and a transportation crisis which is stripping billions of dollars from our economy. Other than a bunch of rhetoric, at no time during the 3 opportunities did I see any vision for the future or the leadership that is going to be necessary to manage Saskatchewan's affairs.
There is no doubt that our Premier is a good communicator and has some bright speech crafters behind him. He is very adapt at stepping into the breach when his Ministers are trying to pull both feet out of their mouth. He does it in the house on a regular basis. He did it during the bear pit at SARM. And as you saw in Question Period on budget day, he stepped in to save the Minister of Agriculture once again. Being a good communicator and looking after your Party's political hide is far different than providing vision and looking to the future.
Obviously the comments that were thrown out at SUMA and SARM conventions about the need to raise taxes were the simple red herrings that I identified in this commentary a month ago. That was simply done so that on budget day when there was no tax increase included that everyone could say...isn't the Premier and Finance Minister doing a good job of managing and we don't need a tax increase to balance the budget. Obviously this is about managing political expectations and allowing all of the government’s usual boosters to jump on the band wagon and say...aren't they doing a wonderful job in difficult circumstances.
Once again, I don't see that as vision or leadership. What would have been visionary is instead of cutting the department of agriculture's budget, that some of that money be directed at our shortline rail industry so that it could become an enhanced mode of transportation for our commodities. Shortlines have the ability to haul products beyond grains and oilseeds. Some are currently moving lots of crude oil and I believe there are many opportunities around the province to enhance their capabilities and enhance the capability of their customers to get their product to market. The thousands of hopper cars currently sitting around sidings could be assembled and loaded by the shortlines so that they are ready to go to market when the two major railways are forced to get their act together. Long-term loans perhaps could be used to purchase more diesel power for the shortlines. Upgrades to their infrastructure would mean that tens of thousands of truckloads of product could be removed from some our thin-membrane highways. There is no guarantee that winters are going to get any milder or that Saskatchewan farmers are not going to continue growing huge crops. Our transportation requirements will grow. Not one mention or one thin dime in Wednesday's budget on this issue.
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”.