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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

It comes as no surprise that the Premier had to answer questions about the fact that he has dismissed the now former Cabinet Secretary Rick Mantey from his Cabinet duties because of the fall-out from his trips with various Cabinet Ministers. In my commentary on April 7th of this year, I mentioned that more attention should be focused on this individual because I didn’t feel that all of the revelations about wasting taxpayers’ money had come to light. It must be nice to know that if you hold enough Sask Party government’s secrets, you can’t be fired but are simply shifted to other duties, maintain a big fat salary and try to fly under the media and the public’s radar.

It appears that Mr. Mantey is now a Special Advisor to the new Minister of Parks, Tourism and Recreation which is about as junior a ministry as you can possibly get. Why such a ministry would need a high-priced former Cabinet Secretary as a special advisor is beyond my comprehension. The real reason that Mr. Mantey still has a job and his salary is probably to keep him from talking about some other big fish in Cabinet that he performed favours for. Mr. Wall’s comments to the media on this matter were simply not believable and I expect eventually other shoes will drop and we will have other revelations of taxpayers’ money being fooled away because Mr. Wall’s ministers have a sense of entitlement. In my view, Mr. Mantey should have been fired and sent packing back to Manitoba.

Speaking of politicians with a sense of entitlement, we now have another million dollar plus abuse of taxpayers’ money on Parliament Hill. This time it isn’t the Senate but it is the people who were so holier-than-thou through the Conservative Senators’ misdeeds. We now have the New Democrats being told by the Board of Internal Economy that they owe $1.17 million for abusing their mailing privileges to constituents.

Over the last few years, all of the political parties have been implicated in schemes where they use their parliamentary franking privileges to send mailings out to ridings not currently held by their party. All of the parties maintain lists of constituencies where they think they have the opportunity to score wins in the next election if they could only convince a small percentage of the voters to go their way.

This practice is totally wrong and is an abuse of MP’s privileges and an abuse of taxpayers’ money. The Board of Internal Economy which is made up of representatives of all the federal parties has voted to make the NDP pay this money back. I am sure that the federal Conservatives and federal Liberals have been waiting for some time for Mr. Mulcair’s group to screw up which they have done royally. It is inconceivable to me why any Member of Parliament would need to spend the kind of money they are allowed these days for their communication allowances to supposedly report back to their constituents. When I go into the main post office in my hometown of Moose Jaw, I always know when the MP’s report comes out because the garbage cans and counters are littered with them because most taxpayers don’t find anything significant to read in them. This is because they are mostly filled with partisan propaganda which narrowly fits the bill for franking privileges.

I remember when MPs would send out a couple of reports a year which were full of good information and in fact were looked forward to by their constituents. This was because of the factual information and the helpful tips that were included so that people could deal with the federal government with a sense of confidence and a knowledge they were getting a bang for their buck. That is not the case today in most mailings I have seen or have been told about.

Perhaps if the Private Member’s Bill currently before the House of Commons presented by Private Member Michael Chong is adopted there will be significant reform of our parliamentary system. Leaders and their backroom people who control our federal political parties will have to start paying attention to the wishes of individual Members of Parliament. Individual Members of Parliament will then have to start paying attention to the concerns of their voters and stop using the taxpayers’ money for their own political benefit and the benefit of our federal political parties.

Once that happens, it will only be a matter of time until provincial political parties will have to start paying attention to their own legislation and rules which is often times even more lax than the federal ones visa-vie the spending of taxpayers’ money to promote their own political party’s interest. In this province, both the NDP and the Sask Party have been masters at it while they are in power in Regina. It will be interesting to see if the Federal NDP can try and wiggle out of this one or if they will be forced to pay back the entire $1.17 million. Let’s hope they are forced to do so for the good of our political system and taxpayer accountability.

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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