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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

I think you have all heard the phrase "one trick pony". It was obvious watching the Sask Party Cabinet Ministers' performances this last week handling the defence of an indefensible budget that without their principal cheerleader being present, our government is a "one trick pony".

Rather than stay-at-home and face the people of Saskatchewan over a budget which has made a lie out of everything Brad Wall campaigned on twelve months ago, our Premier has chosen to run off to Washington, DC and hobnob with some of his friends in the US Senate. Not surprising because we are paying a law firm from South Carolina about $400,000 a year to speak on our behalf in Washington. Our Premier might as well go down to Washington and get a few free meals at fancy private clubs from some US Congressmen and Senators rather than deal with the problems at home.

It's kind of interesting to note that at the same time that the US national coal museum has switched over to solar power in order to save on some of their heating and electrical bills, Mr. Wall continues promoting Saskatchewan's clean coal technology that we don't own. Meanwhile back at the ranch in Saskatchewan, Brad Wall's Ministers are busy dismantling a lot of the progress that previous governments have put in place over the last 50 years to make Saskatchewan a better place in which to live.

Make no mistake about it, the current debt and deficit is totally the handiwork of Brad Wall and his tight little group of political insiders. Now all of a sudden the mistakes of the last 10 years are the responsibility of the families of kindergarten children, library users and urban taxpayers. They must pay for the squandering of all those good years Saskatchewan had with high commodity prices. Mr. Wall and his government, when faced with the consequences of their actions, have had the opportunity to put in place some long-term solutions which would be truly effective down the road in managing our economy through the ups and downs of commodity cycles but have failed to do so.

They have chosen instead to inflict upon us the pain of harmonization without the benefits that go along with a full-blown phased-in harmonization of federal and provincial sales taxes. They have chosen instead to inflict upon some of the most vulnerable people in our society the pain of their own mismanagement and inability to forecast resource revenue. Only favoured corporations and big businesses get to claim back the PST.

It's no wonder that in this crucial juncture in our province's history that our Premier would choose to run off to some other jurisdiction where he can bask in the applause of influential politicians and paid lobbyists rather than face the condemnation of the people of Saskatchewan who pay his salary.

My final comment today is about the total disregard for our educational system exhibited by this Sask Party government. So many of us in Saskatchewan come from immigrant backgrounds where the opportunity for a good public education was not possible in the countries that we originated from. Often that education was controlled by various religious fashions and only served the elites. A good public educational system was recognized by our founding fathers as the way that we would pull everyone up by their bootstraps and create a prosperous society that would recognize the equality of the families who live here. It has been the hallmark of building Saskatchewan. Our education system has been led by elected trustees chosen by their peers.

What we have seen from this Sask Party government is their disregard for keeping that faith with our educational system. This means that new immigrants to our country and our province, First Nations students and students across our spectrum - rural and urban - will not be getting the opportunities that they should. And we as a society will bear the brunt of that missed opportunity that only can come with a highly educated workforce and society.

It was obvious this past week that our Education Minister, who is not a stupid man, was simply floundering while attempting to answer well placed questions from the media and members of the opposition. He could not defend what this government is doing to our educational system in order to make up for the misspent dollars on things like the GTH land scandal, the south Regina bypass and numerous other misplaced priorities by this Sask Party government.

There were many places that this government could have cut, changed tax regimes on and implemented new taxes that would have negated this obvious attack on our educational system. We should all watch with interest and trepidation how this Sask Party government implements its new legislation to take total control of our educational system while shoving elected representatives to the side and in fact, throwing them under the proverbial school bus. Let's see how the messaging will change with the Sask Party's top cheerleader back in town after escaping the heat for a few days.

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