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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

It's a good thing that the winter Olympic games have started because it gives those of us in cold-bound Saskatchewan something to take our minds off what's going on outside.  Saskatchewan is a very sport-oriented place and we love cheering on our athletes especially the home grown ones. 

Regina's own Mark McMorris has defied all of the odds after that horrific snowboarding accident last year by once again being an Olympic medalist.  One can only imagine what kind of determination it must have taken to get his body and his mental state back to a point where he is once again competing at the highest level in his chosen sport.  Except for that small slip on his last jump, Mark probably would be the gold medalist.  Hats off to a great Saskatchewan athlete and example for others to follow.

Newly-minted Premier Scott Moe made his first foray outside the friendly confines of the Sask Party when he attended the SUMA convention this past week.  It seems his reception was far less than enthusiastic than what Brad Wall was used to getting.  He did receive applause for the announcement of the restoration of $7 million to education.  Last year's major cuts to our education system were raised time and again during the Sask Party's leadership race.  I think we all applaud the move to strengthen our educational system. 

What I and many others don't applaud is the lack of an explanation where the new money is coming from.  I haven't seen any money trees sprouting out of the frozen prairie lately.  The price of oil, potash, uranium and wheat has not been going up.  If Mr. Moe is simply adding to the province's debt, then we should be told.  That would be a big departure from his predecessor who made the mess in the first place.  I'm sure Premier Moe's honeymoon will last until the delayed budget is brought down in April.  He better enjoy it while he can.

As a long time politician in the province of Saskatchewan, I am utterly dismayed by some of the reaction I see coming out of the Gerald Stanley second degree murder trial in North Battleford.  I will not comment on the verdict or the intricacies of the testimony given at the trial.  Our judicial system which has evolved through the centuries based on British common law is not perfect.  I'm sure it will continue to evolve as our society continues to grow and new challenges arise because of technology and diversity in our population. 

What I would like to comment on this morning is the number of politicians who are commenting on this latest trial and are somehow implying that the jury system is a flawed one that needs to be somehow drastically changed immediately.  To me it is very unprofessional for our Prime Minister who is somewhere in the southern United States supposedly dealing with trade issues  jumped into this without having sat a day in the court room.  The same can be said for the Federal Justice Minister, the leaders of both the federal and provincial NDP parties and numerous other politicians outside of Saskatchewan.   

The right of all Canadians to choose a trial by judge and jury is one of the things that has separated us from the tyranny of politicians, kings and despots around the world.  Our system has been evolving for 1,000 years and is not perfect but I believe we have done our best as Canadians to keep issues of race, religion and political persuasion out of our judicial system as much as possible.

Have we been perfect?  No we haven't but it seems from the comments by our political leadership that we should be moving to a jury system based on race rather than a broad spectrum of our fellow residents which I think would be a total failure.  In Canada, we have prided ourselves on developing a society which is educated, which grants political freedom to every citizen and strives in many ways to bring social and economic equity amongst our citizens.

That is a long-term goal which we must continually strive for so that no Canadian feels left out of the advantages we enjoy as a society.  Well-educated people make for informed and non-biased jurors so that when we are faced with legal issues that demand a fair adjudication, we hope that we can get them from the people in our surrounding community. 

I for one would not want to serve on a jury with someone who is racially-biased, who is religiously-biased or someone that does not believe in our parliamentary democracy or in our system of justice.  We have much to do in this province to ensure that all our citizens have the same opportunities to achieve their goals to the best of their abilities.  We still need to, in my view, impress upon people as they grow up into mature adults that they have a responsibility as individuals to improve themselves and therefore make a better community in which to live.

Individual responsibility is a tough thing to teach but it is absolutely necessary for us to keep moving ahead.  Politicians trying to make themselves look good by suggesting "quick fixes" based on the wants and needs of one group in society rather than improving the lot of everyone is simply a cheap attempt at vote buying.  If they succeed, it will simply put us in the league of other places in the world that we are warned about not to go to because those places don't have the rule of law.

Next Monday's commentary will be delayed for one day so that everyone can enjoy Family Day.  Hopefully the weather will cooperate!

Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning Commentary.  Please send your comments to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  If you know of anyone that would be interested in receiving this by email, please forward me their email address.  These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

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