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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Yesterday was one of those winter days that everyone can really appreciate in Saskatchewan.  The sun was shining, a very light breeze was blowing with the temperature slightly over freezing.  After a week of being kept in the house with a dose of that miserable cold/flu that's been going around all of Saskatchewan, it was nice to get out and enjoy one of Saskatchewan's favourite winter activities - ice fishing. 

My son Eric and I joined hundreds of other people at Buffalo Pound Lake enjoying the afternoon, caught our limit of yellow perch and simply relaxed from the rigours of our lives.  Let's hope we have a few more days like that this winter so that we can forget about the bone-chilling cold which we've all endured over the last month.  

The never-ending leadership races which are gripping Saskatchewan politics these days has virtually brought the process of government to a standstill.  I know from visiting people involved in municipal government and third-party non-profit organizations that there is a growing sense of foreboding about the budget process.  I think everyone is anticipating another tough budget and are wondering when the Sask Party government is going to get its focus off of choosing a new leader and getting on with what they were elected to do in the spring of 2016.  The budget process appears to be far behind schedule. 

It would have been so much healthier for Saskatchewan's economy if people like Brad Wall and Bill Boyd had decided before the last election to do the right thing and exit public life.  It must be particularly galling to the people of the Kindersley constituency to go through the exercise of choosing a new MLA when the old one knew full well that his political life was on life support. 

Brad Wall should not have signed Bill Boyd's nomination papers.  I'm sure that the Premier who has been lauded for his keen sense of political acumen knew that Mr. Boyd had more trouble coming down the pipe.  Surely to goodness Mr. Boyd's irrigation scheme involving Chinese investors who were looking at getting Canadian citizenship out of the deal would have started alarm bells ringing somewhere in government a long time ago. 

Mr. Wall's hand-picked advisors in Executive Council who are so adept at providing government resources to certain Sask Party leadership candidates before they even ask for that information must have known what fellow insider Bill Boyd had on his mind as he was exiting the Saskatchewan cabinet under a cloud of suspicion over the GTH land scandal.

Oh well....what's another $400,000 of taxpayer's money on a by-election in Kindersley so that the Sask Party can continue with its own political agenda of self preservation. 

My final comment of the day will be on another type of preservation.  While attending a family funeral in Regina on Saturday afternoon, we had to travel the length of Victoria Avenue East to the outskirts of the city.  I could not believe what I was seeing!  There was literally dozens of loaded gravel trucks heading into the city on Victoria Avenue.

Evidentially they are stock-pilling gravel on the west side of the city for work on overpasses and bridges on the west section of the Regina bypass.  Just to the east of the Regina city limits is the brand new controversial $170 million overpass at Tower Road which recently opened to take traffic south to Arcola and eventually around the city.

Why in the world are hundreds of heavy loads of gravel per day being hauled through the heavy traffic of Victoria Avenue East when this hugely expensive bypass is now open?  You can bet the city of Regina will be at the government's doorstep asking for money to rebuild Victoria Avenue East when it was just redone a year ago.  These trucks are snarling up traffic worst than it ever was and this just speaks to the lack of planning and foresight for this entire project. 

Is there no gravel and sand left west of the city of Regina to haul into these stock piles without having to drag it through the middle of the city?  No wonder so many of us look on this project as nothing more than a $2 billion boondoggle.

President Grant Schmidt will be writing next Monday's commentary.  See you in two weeks.

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