Last week, PC Party Executive Director Dale Burnay and I made a two-day trip to the Kindersley constituency to get a feeling for what a post-Bill Boyd era will be like in that constituency. Except for a five year hiatus, Bill Boyd had been their MLA since 1991. My observation is that people are really looking forward to a different perspective. Whether that perspective includes the PC Party will be determined in the upcoming by election and the following general election.
The Kindersley area is not unknown to me because as Saskatchewan's Energy Minister, it was a place I would go to consult with the oil business and to see how technology was being adapted. The Kindersley area contains a lot of different grades from light to heavy and so it was an area where new technology like horizontal drilling had the ability to make great strides in production. Driving around that area today, one can certainly see the results of that innovation and hard work.
What I found really troubling though was that along with southeast Saskatchewan, companies are having to flare gas produced alongside oil because there is no pipeline capacity for it or the inability to find other uses. In fact, I was told that some companies are flaring millions of dollars in gas a year. This is not good for our economy or our environment.
You would have thought that a constituency which elected the Sask Party government's Minister of the Economy election after election would have expected some solutions to this waste of a natural resource which could be benefitting all citizens in Saskatchewan. This same Minister was also responsible for Saskatchewan's power monopoly which during his time of leadership wasted tens of millions of dollars on smart meters and cost overruns at Boundary Dam while our electrical costs continued to rise.
The PC Party put out its policies on the use of waste heat before the last general election in order to get government and individuals thinking about how we could use this resource in a productive manner to benefit our society. This topic should be an issue in the upcoming by election and for years to come as petroleum production continues to ramp up in this area of our province. We can never get this resource back once it has been flared off and the by-products end up in our atmosphere for years to come.
The other issue that really jumped out in the Kindersley area and has across the province is the imposition of the 6% sales tax on insurance policies province wide. This is a very regressive policy in my view and it is a direct result of the waste and mismanagement of the Sask Party government on things like the GTH and the south Regina bypass.
This mixture of flawed Sask Party policy and a lack of care and attention when it came to budgeting has resulted in one deficit budget after another. In order to balance the budget, the Sask Party government has turned to poorly thought out taxation measures to try and get a handle on the deficit situation. Even some of the Sask Party leadership contenders have come to the conclusion that this tax must go even though these same people were sitting around the cabinet table when the decision was made to implement the tax.
We have always prided ourselves as a society where achieving things like home ownership was important. People have been encouraged to work hard and save. We have also encouraged people to be good stewards of their property by investing in good insurance policies so that in times of mishap, they can rebuild and carry on.
To think that some seniors on fixed incomes would have to make choices between food on the table and insurance on their home is absolutely ridiculous. The same can be said for low wage earners who are striving to raise families on minimum wage jobs. I am sure that some farm families will rethink the issue of crop insurance coverage because of the amount of tax being paid on that coverage going into what could be another record dry year. This is bad public policy in my view and it is certainly on the minds of people in the Kindersley area.
Because the next two Mondays fall on Christmas Day and New Year's Day, there will be no commentary. Joanne and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful holiday season and a Happy New Year. We hope that your time with family and friends is joyful and that everyone stays safe as they travel across our great province to celebrate this season.
See you in the New Year!
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.