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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Last week, I joined thousands of others paying a visit to the Crop Production Show in Saskatoon. The day I was there, the place was packed which is a very good sign after a very disappointing 2016 harvest for many producers. For a politician, it is a great place to meet people, say hello to old friends and acquaintances and get a sense of where agriculture will go in 2017. And of course the farmer in me is drawn to the shiny new equipment and products that are available. You also marvel at the price tag on most of this stuff and wonder how the input costs of agriculture will remain sustainable. My hat goes off to the people that organize this show on a yearly basis. They really do a tremendous job of putting it together in a format people can appreciate.

Sustainability is a word that can mean many things but it is something that is more often mentioned around the production and availability of food across the world today. You have heard me mention in this commentary many times that I believe Canada and Saskatchewan need to start putting in place the right environments to secure fruits and vegetables on a year-round basis from our own production.

You all have seen and read indicators recently that talk about the rapid escalation of price in these particular food products. That is happening for a number of reasons. Lack of water in certain growing regions, increased transportation costs and the fact that populations in North America are growing. It takes more food to provide a healthy diet for our population.

A few months ago, I was diagnosed as a Type 2 diabetic. This is a very common occurrence unfortunately in our society. All of the science around Type 2 diabetes shows that diet is very important. How you portion the various food types on your plate goes a long ways to leading a healthy lifestyle. I am hoping to avoid any type of drug therapy by managing my weight, getting lots of exercise and managing my diet.

I was very pleased to read, therefore, an article in a recent Western Producer about a company in the Edmonton area which was building a vertical greenhouse. This greenhouse operation will be many stories high and is projected to produce many more tonnes of product than existing greenhouse operations will. The concept has been around for a while but this will be the first commercial one in western Canada. If this works as well as the proponents hope it will, this could be a transformational change in this industry. You can read this article on the web at http://www.producer.com/2016/12/the-indoor-harvest/.

The PC Party policy of using waste heat and CO2 generated by many of Saskatchewan's large industries to grow fruit and vegetables would be a natural fit for this new technology. That combined with Saskatchewan's huge solar potential could make our diet far more sustainable and ensure a whole new employment opportunity which could last for generations. Our Sask Party government needs to get off its "hope-and-pray" mentality that the price of oil will go up to save their political hides. There are other opportunities for this province which will cost a lot less than some of the Premier's legacy projects and have a far more meaningful affect on how our people live and work.

The dumbest comment by a politician in the last week belongs to our Prime Minister. Prime Minister Trudeau commented about phasing out the oil sands as an energy source for Canada and is a comment I believe he will regret in making. Most countries in the world would give anything to have an energy source that large in their backyard.

I am not claiming that everything about the oil sands development has been done in the best manner possible. I think, though, that the companies, their employees and governments have gotten a lot smarter, have developed new technology and will continue to do everything they can to make the extraction of that particular resource the cleanest and environmentally sound that it can be. This hydrocarbon resource will outlast most or all of Canada's conventional oil resources. Canadians should never be held ransom by the OPEC cartel or any other foreign oil source as long as we have those reserves in place.

It is an absolute travesty that Saudi oil is still being delivered into Atlantic Canada. If the Prime Minister had said that was going to be phased out, I believe he would have had cheering from coast-to-coast. Let's get on with developing, refining and transporting Canadian oil to Canadians from sea-to-sea because the Americans under Trump may be self sufficient in the very near future if all the environmental restrictions are taken off of American oil development. Please no more dumb comments Mr. Prime Minister on Canadian self-sufficiency.

Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning Commentary. Please send your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address. Don’t forget to check out our website at pcsask.ca as we hope to do more social media in the coming months.

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