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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

The other shoe has finally dropped for some now-former members of the Sask Party government. I think many of us have been extremely frustrated by the under-performing and over-spending members of the Wall cabinet who blissfully went along spending our money and making Saskatchewan's economic woes lengthen by the day.

Premier Wall's much-anticipated cabinet shuffle happened last week and names like Boyd, McMorris and Heppner are gone. There were also a few minor players who weren't invited back for good reason. There were a few others like Harpauer and Tell that should have been gone but probably hung on because of Wall's need for some gender balance. Thank goodness he had some newly-elected bright and articulate female MLAs to put into cabinet and hopefully correct some of the glaring mistakes made by others.

To those of us that fought long and hard against the waste of taxpayer's money on both the Global Transportation Hub and the south Regina bypass, the removal of the three main spenders of our money is a small victory and gives us the opportunity to say I told you so. These three Ministers - more than any others - pushed that agenda against all those who pointed out the many flaws of this huge expensive plan which does nothing for Saskatchewan in the long term.

Yes Bill Boyd committed many other faux pas with our money and displayed a poor management and arrogant style but it was the land buying and speculation around the GTH which was his ultimate undoing. Don McMorris has been charged with impaired driving in an orange zone created by the south Regina bypass. This is the same Minister who for years refused to install traffic lights at the dangerous intersections east of Regina where many fatalities occurred. This is the Minister that has pushed to have a bypass built through expanding suburbs of Regina rather than build Saskatchewan's economy by routing through the industrial area on the north side of the city.

And finally Nancy Heppner, as Minister of Highways, had her department bulldoze through the lands of hundreds of individuals - farmers and businesses - taking their land undervalued and treating everyone with great distain as she pushed the bypass agenda through the Legislative Assembly and its committees. Saskatchewan's courtrooms will be burdened with case after case as the affected land owners try to right the wrongs perpetrated upon them by Ms Heppner's bureaucrats. Of course, we taxpayers will foot the bill for all the lawyers as this process winds its way through the legal system.

Saskatchewan will be a better place with this threesome no longer having the ability to say where our tax dollars are being spent. Let's hope their replacements do a better job.

And speaking about better jobs....let us hope that the new Minister of Health - Jim Reiter - has a better understanding of what transformational change in the health system really means. Let's hope he has a better grasp of health care delivery in rural Saskatchewan and has a better understanding of how to control and eliminate the unnecessary bureaucracy in the health region system.

People in this province are tired of the Premier and his Ministers talking about transformational change and doing nothing more than appointing three of their friends to study the matter for another protracted period of time. We are either in the health region system or we are out. Everywhere else in Canada where it has been tried it has been done away with. It is time to use the full four-year mandate of this government to get out of the system in a reasonable and managed way so that we can continue to get the services necessary for good health care and have more accountable expenditures of our tax dollars.

My congratulations to the new members of the Cabinet of Saskatchewan. You have a tremendous responsibility to the people of this province. If I can give you one piece of advice, it will be to use this opportunity to learn one new thing each day if possible. If you look within your portfolios, I'm sure you can find at least one thing that will give you more knowledge and more ability to perform your job and make this province a better place in which to live. If you do that, at the end of your day you can say "I've done my best" and hold your head up when it's time to walk away. Give it your best shot.

We will be celebrating the Labour Day holiday next Monday and hopefully celebrating some good harvest weather and the last warm weather of the season. My next commentary will be in two weeks!

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