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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

I, like many of you, woke up this morning to the tragic events in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The United States has now set a new casualty record for a mass shooting.  50 people are dead and over 400 people are wounded because some nut case decided to get even with the world for whatever reasons were running through his troubled mind.  This guy sprayed bullets on a crowd of 20,000 people for over 5 minutes.  The news report said he had 10 guns in his hotel room.  Is American society so unmoved by gun violence that they don't notice a 64 year old man hauling 10 weapons up to his hotel room in a resort community like Las Vegas?  How many more disaffected Americans will want to copy-cat this remorseless killer and be able to do so because of virtually unlimited access to all types of weapons including fully automatic firearms?  It will be interesting to see what President Trump tweets about this one.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of all those killed or wounded.

Canada is not immune to violence as we witnessed in Edmonton after the football game on Friday night.  We have an individual using a vehicle as a weapon and getting out to finish the job on a policeman with a knife.  The reports of an ISIS flag on the front seat of the vehicle is terribly disturbing and we Canadians must be even more vigilant as long as that sickness continues to haunt the world.  ISIS may soon be defeated militarily in the Middle East but the hatred that it preaches will be with us for a long time to come.

Some of you will be aware of the breaking story that was released by the Toronto Star, the National Observer and Global News yesterday about sour gas leaks and their consequences for people in Saskatchewan.  I reread the story posted by the National Observer again this morning before writing this commentary in order to clearly understand what has been going on in Saskatchewan over the last half a dozen years in certain areas.  I was horrified at what I read.

This period of time coincides with the tremendous growth in the oil and gas sector in the Bakken formation of south eastern Saskatchewan.  This story also confirms, unfortunately, the presence of Bill Boyd and his special advisor and now Deputy Minister of the Economy, Laurie Pushor in this deadly sequence of events which are finally unfolding for the public to read. 

If the allegations in this unfolding story are true about the government's failure to notify citizens of numerous encounters with deadly H2S gases and one death occurring from it, then Brad Wall must be held accountable for the action or lack-there-of of his Ministers.  We all know that the Premier and his Sask Party government are huge promoters of the oil and gas industry and the impact that it has on our economy.  We also know that the oil and gas sector have been huge benefactors of the Sask Party financially.

As a former Minister of Energy and Mines, I can fully appreciate the development of our oil and gas resources and the benefits that they can provide to the citizens of this province who are the owners of the resource.  The government that I represented put a lot of time and effort into the development of horizontal drilling in our province because it was another way to unlock the riches of heavy oil and tight oil formations.  But I also understand that the government has to be the regulator and the honest broker on behalf of the citizens who co-exist with this industry.  Personal safety is always paramount.

Saskatchewan does not have third party regulators who are at arm's-length from government like Alberta and BC and so we must be even more vigilant when issues like sour gas and its safe production become a reality.  The technology is there to safely handle this resource but the money must be spent to do it in a proper manner.  This unfolding report indicates that our government has been negligent and more concerned with the Premier's political agenda than the safety of our citizens.

The PC Party has put out a release this morning calling on the Sask Party government to release all documents related to this matter and to tell the public how many serious encounters have occurred between our citizens and sour gas and where are the areas in our province where our citizens must be totally vigilant in order to ensure their own safety.

Once again, Brad Wall is stepping away from a mess created by his former Minister Bill Boyd and perhaps other Sask Party Energy Ministers before and after. 

I encourage all of you to watch for the second part of this unfolding tragic story.     

Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

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