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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

The Sask Party and its Premier Brad Wall's lack of long-term vision for the future has caught up with Saskatchewan BIG TIME. As of April 1st, the ramifications of this latest Sask Party budget are hitting everyone's pocketbook. None of us mind paying our fair share to make Saskatchewan a better place in which to live but it's really tough to swallow the mismanagement of our economy over the last ten years by this big spending government who have blown the greatest economic boom in our history.

What we have is the missed opportunity to value-add our economy coupled with a bunch of huge legacy projects for Brad Wall that this province cannot afford. A $2 billion south Regina bypass, which is in the wrong location to provide any meaningful, long-term employment, a questionable billion and a half dollar carbon capture plant that we don't own the technology for and numerous other big ticket items all add up to the mess we are into today. Many of these projects we will be paying for the next 30 years meaning there won't be money for other opportunities that may come along.

It's obvious from the Premier's latest foray into the oil business where he is trying to entice companies that he is a shareholder in to move from Calgary to Regina with incentives of taxpayer's dollars shows that this Premier and his government have a fixation on oil that doesn't add up when it drops from $100 dollars a barrel to $50 dollars a barrel. The root of the matter is the Premier's ego is so big that he is playing a game of one-up-man/woman ship with the NDP Premier of Alberta and he is willing to prove his point by giving away some more of our tax dollars which we don't have. This mentality is why we have millions of dollars of taxpayer's money thrown away on the GTH land scandal but don't have enough money to keep our emergency rooms functioning the way they should be.

I recently read an article in the Arizona Republic newspaper whereby the time table to shut down the largest coal-fired generating plant in the western United States has been moved up 25 years ahead of schedule. It will now close in 2019. According to the spokesperson for the Salt River Project, the utilities largest owner with 75% of the shares, this is an economic circumstance not a regulatory question. You can view this article at azcentral.com on March 18, 2017.

They have found that there are so many other cheaper and cleaner forms of energy coming on line that they can no longer afford to mine and burn coal even though they have hundreds of years of supply of that material. Our Premier seems fixated on burning coal when everyone else is promoting other forms of cleaner, renewable energy. Changing the mindset at SaskPower might have been something that should have been announced in the budget along with partnerships with Saskatchewan people that would allow them to participate in our energy future with things like solar panel installation on roof tops like we see in many other places in the world.

If Mr. Wall spends one thin dime of taxpayer's money bringing one of those oil companies in which he is a shareholder to Saskatchewan simply to satisfy his ego, I hope the people of this province take to the streets of our communities in protest because that would truly be a dereliction of responsibility when there are so many other pressing needs that need addressing in our society.

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