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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

My first comments today are to offer congratulations to two Saskatchewan politicians who strutted their stuff on the national stage over the past weekend. The first congrat goes to Andrew Scheer - the newly elected leader of the Federal Conservative Party and the first Saskatchewanian to hold that position since John Diefenbaker. Mr. Scheer's come-from-behind victory is a testament to his ability to resonate with conservatives across the country. He wasn't everyone's first choice but obviously was on most people's ballots and therefore was able to overcome Mr. Bernier's lead on the previous 12 ballots. Hopefully he will be the strong opposition voice that we all need to keep Mr. Trudeau's government in line and listening to Canadians.

My second congrat goes out to Brad Trost who defied the pundants expectations of his campaign by placing a strong fourth throughout the balloting. Mr. Trost very effectively used his connections across Canada with various groups of social conservatives to sell a lot of memberships and raise significant campaign funds and obviously convinced people to get out and vote. Hopefully Mr. Trost's political skills can be put to good use by the new leader in presenting a strong alternative for Canadians.

In my view, Mr. Scheer must keep the federal Conservative Party as a big tent party that finds a place for all types of conservatives. The Conservative leaders in the past who were able to do so have been very successful. Canadians have shown that they have no time for single-issue politicians or parties.

It's great to hear about the Saskatoon-based company that is going to attempt to develop commercially the generation of electrical power by using very hot water located under the Bakken oil formation in southeast Saskatchewan. They are going to use abandoned oil wells to initiate this process I understand and have obtained a contract from SaskPower to sell the electricity generated into the grid. As some will remember, the PC Party put forward a plan in the last election campaign to restart existing wells which had been shut in and also to use waste heat for the growing of fruits and vegetables in Saskatchewan. Let's hope this company and its board of directors are successful in this endeavour because it would open up a whole host of other opportunities for Saskatchewan employment and our ability to mitigate the current rate of carbon emissions in our province. This company will run their operations out of Estevan.

My final comment of the day will be on the ongoing saga of our Sask Party government trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear called the GTH. The latest revelations from the CBC I-Team on the individuals who make up the Brightenview company should set off alarm bells all across the Sask Party government. In case some of you don't remember, Brightenview is the latest darling out of the Sask Party's GTH saga.

It appears from the CBC's research that some of the individuals behind Brightenview - the guys who are supposed to have the money for Brightenview's GTH plans - are wanted by the Chinese government for alleged loan fraud. Arrest notices have been issued by the Chinese government as part of its anti-corruption campaign. This company several years ago bought a piece of land near Dundurn, Saskatchewan to build a mega-mall that would showcase Chinese-made products to the North American marketplace. They also promised the same thing outside a city in Ontario. Neither of these developments amounted to more than big talk and no action.

Yes, the company did buy some land in the GTH but only on the condition that Saskatchewan taxpayers provide all of the services for an undisclosed sum of money. I guess this is better than the CPR land deal in the GTH where they got the land for FREE and us taxpayers put up the still undisclosed money for the services. I fear because of our weak NDP opposition in our province that the money pit at the GTH will just grow deeper and Saskatchewan taxpayers will never see what is at the bottom of it.

Maybe it's time to cut our losses and get out of the place before the Sask Party dumps more money in to someone else's get rich quick scheme. Unfortunately, we also have a $1.9 billion Regina bypass to service the place which we will be paying for over the next 30 years.

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