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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Last night I went to bed in a foul mood because the weather forecast was for snow overnight which is not good when you are calving cows and I had just finished reading the latest CBC revelations about the Global Transportation Hub. My mood was no better this morning. The first hour after daybreak was spent digging calves out of snow banks and putting out fresh bedding and feed. There is a newborn calf out there that may need some TLC in the barn after I finish writing this commentary. That's life in the cattle business!

The other part of my outrage this morning is directed at our Sask Party government and CP Rail for the outrageous deal they have foisted upon us at the Global Transportation Hub. It appears the Wall government gave CP Rail 300 fully-serviced acres of land at the GTH for FREE. I am talking all services, paved roads, parking lots and new highway access being built on our dime. All for a big fat ZERO! Meanwhile the City of Regina was paying 7.5 million dollars for the CP rail yard in downtown Regina at top dollar.

What is really inexcusable about this whole thing is that the media, the opposition and organizations like the Canadian Taxpayers' Association have been asking for the documents related to this transaction for months now. The government refuses to open up the books even though there are tens of millions of taxpayers' dollars involved in this deal.

We thought it was bad enough when we found out last year that two friends of the government walked away with $6 million and $5 million for taking a look-see at this land and flipping it. To give the CPR, who just three winters ago cost Saskatchewan farmers and our province billions of dollars by not hauling our grain in a timely manner, free land and services is obscene. The taxpayers of Saskatchewan and SaskPower ratepayers are on the hook for $25 million on a 145 acre parcel right beside the province's gift to the CPR. SLGA paid over $160,000 an acre for their parcel right next door. No wonder the price of beer is going up in Saskatchewan.

This is the same CP railroad that was given thousands of quarter sections of land with mineral rights attached all across western Canada when the railroad was built. This is the CP rail company that was given land in many communities across western Canada including downtown Regina. Why in the world would they be given free land in the GTH while at the same time, getting top dollar for their downtown land? And why are not the people of Saskatchewan being allowed to judge this investment which is paid for by their money in an open and accountable manner? If you use the SaskPower numbers as a comparison, this land was worth over $50 million and that may not include all of the money spent on services.

The money needed to fund libraries in Saskatchewan, the hearing aid program for children with hearing problems and the autistic children's support program could all be funded with the money paid to Tappauf and Markwart with probably a million left over for each them and their time spent driving by the property. Just think what a fair deal with CP rail could do in Saskatchewan's deficit budget of 2017!

The Premier was claiming in the Legislature just a short time ago that the GTH is a good deal for Saskatchewan's taxpayers and is making money. Yes it is making money for Mr. Wall's big corporate friends but it sure is hell not making money for Saskatchewan's taxpayers.

It's time to open the books Mr. Wall and let Saskatchewan people know if it's time to cut our losses and get out of this land boondoggle you and your government has gotten us into. I would ask all of you to take a look at the CBC story. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/global-transportation-hub-cp-regina-1.4068125

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