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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

I hope everyone had an enjoyable and relaxing Family Day long weekend. It's hard to believe that its February 21st already with spring just right around the corner. I'm sure Old Man Winter isn't quite finished with us yet but there is light at the end of the tunnel. One of my neighbours has been calving since the middle of January and really appreciates this nice weather. Hopefully when our turn rolls around on April 1st, we will get more of the same.

An issue that seems to have come out of nowhere in the last year in North America is the idea that most of our news is "fake" news i.e. it is made up by reporters and networks and is a distorted view of what is real. Let's face it ... both Canada and the United States have founding principles based on the freedom of speech and the freedom of press so that various types of tyranny could not occur here as they had in places where many of our ancestors came from. I think we have a pretty strong belief in our society in those fundamental rights.

I can tell you from a very early age in my family we always made sure that we caught the news broadcast morning, noon and night. The new President of the United States claims that most news in his country is "fake" news. I think a good part of that is because he doesn't like the way the media reports on his activities and method of governing. I'll leave that up to the American people to decide in four years. I do believe it is increasingly important that we have the ability to trust what is being reported to us so that we get the truth and can make informed decisions about the various things that affect our lives.

A couple of things in this regard caught my eye last week. The first was the continued blocking of testimony at the Public Accounts Committee hearings on the Global Transportation Hub. For the third time, the majority Sask Party MLAs have blocked the Opposition's request to have the Deputy Minister of the Economy Ministry Laurie Pushor testify before the Committee. Mr. Pushor is the person that negotiated the $103,000 an acre sale of land by a Regina businessman to the GTH.

Mr. Pushor's salary as a public servant is paid by you and me. As an Opposition MLA, I chaired the Public Accounts Committee for over a year and I can tell you that is exactly what that Committee is designed for so that our public service can be called forward to explain how our money is being spent and they do this with the supposed freedom of speech. Anything else is simply a form of tyranny by the majority. One can only come to the conclusion by these actions of the government that this government does have something to hide that they are deathly afraid of.

The other thing that seems to be coming out of the Sask Party government's whole deficit budget game plan are the desperate attempts by a desperate government to shove the blame onto everyone but themselves. We all understand that resource revenue is down and has been for some time. So why did our government wait until now before making adjustments? Why did we go ahead with a $2 billion Regina bypass when we obviously didn't have the money to pay for it?

The attempts to say that our public service is a big part of the problem is also, in my view, unfair. Some public servants are probably paid too much and some are probably not paid enough. The thing is that it was our Sask Party government that negotiated all of the current pay schedules. The public servants did not pick their own salary levels.

It is difficult for the average person to determine what is real and what is not because our government controls much of our access to information. I was pleased to discover, therefore, on the weekend a blog done by a lady out of Saskatoon that seemed to have some very good research on the truth of these matters. For anyone that is interested, you can go to @tammyrobert and the title of the piece is SaskaBroke: The Demonization of the Public Service and Where All That Money Really Came From. I found it to be a very good read and the information is taken directly from our own government's Public Accounts.

I think it is time for all of us as we go through this process of collectively addressing the province's deficit, that we be as well informed as possible about the choices being made and that we all equally share in the pain and the gain of solving this problem. My fear is that our government will once again try and save their political hides and their high-paying jobs at the expense of doing the right things for the right reasons.

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons

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