I hope everyone had a great holiday week with family and friends and for those of you who still believe in Santa Claus, I hope you found what you wanted under the tree. In light of the new drinking and driving regulations in Saskatchewan, I hope your New Year's celebrations were in moderation.
Joanne and I certainly had ours in moderation and we both were in bed by 10:00 PM as she worked all day and I had a wonderful day pheasant hunting in southwest Saskatchewan following my dog for many miles and not coming home with any birds to speak of. It's hard to believe another year has gone by.
January has come in like a lion this morning but that is not unusual to Saskatchewan and I am sure we will get used to it. What I can't get used to is the hypocrisy of our Sask Party government. We now have the Premier publicly musing about all sorts of tough things he is going to implement in order to right Saskatchewan's fiscal ship while he forgets about all of the choices the Sask Party government has made over the last 8 years.
If we are going to have layoffs and the rolling back of wages of people who work in Saskatchewan's public service, we should expect at the same time to see the Sask Party government claw back the nearly $14 million excess it paid to two of the government's friends on the GTH land scandal. Anything above the $35,000 an acre that the Department of Highways was going to expropriate this land for should be paid back to the taxpayer before anyone's wages are rolled back.
Parts of the Regina bypass project which we have seen quadrupled in cost to $2 billion should be delayed or rethought. The penalties that Mr. Wall pays to his largest political donator Cenovus Energy of Calgary for shortfalls of C02 production from Boundary Dam should be renegotiated.
All of us need to do our part in the belt tightening that Saskatchewan must experience in order to balance the province's books once more but we want to be assured that the pain is done in a fair and equitable manner. If there are new taxes that need to be paid, then make sure they are across the board and we all pay. It will be interesting to see if the Premier's musings are real and fair or just playing to his political base like that famous politician south of the border.
A good place for the Premier to start would be to follow the recommendations of the Provincial Auditor. Over the holiday period, I took the opportunity to read an article done by Tammy Robert of Saskatoon. Its title is "2016 Sask Auditor's Year-End Report: What You Didn't Hear". The Provincial Auditor does two reports a year - one in June and one in December. Ms Robert, in my view, has done an excellent job of commenting on the second report and all of the glaring misuse of taxpayers' dollars which is revealed in this report. You can read it by going to https://oursask.ca/2016/12/20/2016-sask-auditors-year-end-report-what-you-didnt-hear/.
2017 is going to be a very challenging year for many in our province. Let's hope that the policy choices made by our leaders across the public domain do not further exacerbate many of the divisions that already exist in our society. The only way that we will come out of this is by working together.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”