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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

I certainly know what the meaning of “frustration” is when it is June 2nd and the crop is not in the ground. We had another 1.2 inches Saturday evening and into Sunday. I still have soybeans, wheat, flax and some oats to sow and all of those have varying degrees of risk attached to them after June 1st. I am sure there are many other people in the same boat (no pun intended).

Most of last year’s crop is still sitting in my bins because of the mess in transportation and the expenses to put this delayed crop in the ground are higher than ever. The federal government finally passed their Bill C-30 and the reaction around the country has not been terribly favourable. The Canola Growers have gone ahead with a lack of service challenge against CN Rail and many other commodity groups are now saying that the railroads are discriminating against them because they only want to ship grain and other crops to Vancouver because that is the easiest for the railroads.

Because the Federal Government has not taken the advice of many farm groups, interested organizations and the PC Party of Saskatchewan, CN and CP Rail are picking winners and losers to satisfy their own business plans while complying with the federal government’s tonnage requirements. Without the other parts of the necessary legislation, the railroads will continue to ignore the pleas of special crop processors, shortline railways and farmers all across western Canada. My prediction is that this legislation will have to be totally reviewed and rewritten within a year so that agriculture has the tools to move forward in a profitable manner. Goodness knows there will be billions lost on this last crop and perhaps the one which we are so desperately trying to seed this spring.

Late last week you heard our Premier just before his big fundraising dinner in Regina musing about privatizing the liquor business. This is the usual Brad Wall way of trying to take the attention off of so many important areas of Saskatchewan life and have us all concentrating on something which isn’t very important at all. Liquor sales are a cash cow to the provincial government. Always have been and always will be because the government gets their cut first. Some people might think that consuming alcohol is a part of life that is a necessity but I think most of us view it as a socially-acceptable luxury that we indulge in from time-to-time as we relax with family and friends. It’s not something that we “have to have”. Even if the whole business were removed from the hands of government and put into the private sector, it probably wouldn’t affect the consumption attitudes of most of us.

Brad Wall’s middle name should be “Houdini” because he is trying to once again to pull some slight of hand that will get the union bosses all worked up and try and make the rest of us believe that we are going to be able to go down to the local grocery store like we do on vacation and buy a case of beer or a couple of bottles of wine and because of that, we should be ever grateful to the Sask Party. Even if you take the 400-500 full and part time liquor store workers and drop them from an average salary of $20.00 an hour down to $14.00 or $15.00 an hour we are not saving a great deal of money. Yes you will save on some benefits and pension but you will also take the ability of a few of those people to raise families and make a mortgage payment on a lower salary.

It is not the biggest question facing Saskatchewan people today although Premier Wall will try to make you think it is. The issues he does not want you thinking about like how we are going to provide long-term care for our growing seniors population, which in my view will be in a crisis stage soon, and how are we going to maintain the crumbling infrastructure in both our urban and rural areas are things of great importance. First Nations education and job creation are not working because of issues with the Federal Government. Saskatchewan has the lowest percentage of value-adding to the products that we produce of any province in western Canada and indeed, much of Canada as a whole. We still rely on raw products to drive our economy.

So I hope that all of you think about these issues and many more while Mr. Wall and his Sask Party cohorts are running around the province this summer and fall on the bbq circuit trying to get you to jump into the great debate on privatizing the liquor business. My advice to everyone would be to simply ignore him and his friends because the liquor business will continue to evolve on its own as attitudes shift and people make their own choices about the “extras” in life that we like to spend our money on.

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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