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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Once again, it appears that this commentary has been out in front of an issue before the rest of the political pack. My commentary last week on the problems plaguing our rail transportation industry and the lack of due diligence by our elected politicians set off an avalanche of “me too”.

 It’s a sad commentary on the state of Saskatchewan’s politics when a party without representation in the Legislature is more in tune with what’s going on than the ones that are sitting there. It is also an indictment of the performance of the politicians sitting there who have a sworn responsibility to look after the welfare of their citizens and taxpayers.

I think one of these individuals in particular needs to be singled out for their winter long silence on the crisis in rail transportation. That person would the Minister of Highways and Transportation, the MLA for Wood River and himself a farmer and former board member of a short line railway. This individual was also the President of SARM and therefore should be totally on top of situations like this when they begin to evolve rather than being at the tail end of an issue when the bills begin to mount on every farm in Saskatchewan.

During the last provincial election campaign, PC Party candidate Brian Archer told the people of Wood River that David Marit would be "all show and no go" when it came down to solving their problems. The current situation shows that he was absolutely right. The PC Party in the last election campaign talked about a strategy to strengthen and support the short line rail industry to try and alleviate the problems that continually arise with CN and CP. I have believed for a long time that we need a direct short line link to the US railroads.

Mr. Marit as President of SARM gave lots of lip service to short lines and finding ways to make CP and CN live up to their responsibilities. This MLA and Minister kept his portfolio during the recent Sask Party leadership race. I believe he was a supporter of the eventual winner, Scott Moe, and of course was rewarded in the new cabinet with the retention of his cabinet seat and big salary.

I am sure that some of Mr. Marit’s officials would have been briefing him on this developing crisis all through the winter months. They would have done this because CN in particular was not performing up to the appropriate standards even before winter set in. Surely, some of the long-term backbenchers in the Sask Party caucus would been pulling Mr. Marit aside after angry encounters with some of their constituents who would have given them an earful about plugged elevators and the inability of their families to pay their bills.

This is the same politician who said he would do something about the used tire pile in Assiniboia, Saskatchewan - a tire pile that is a huge environmental disaster just waiting to happen and another broken commitment and financial boondoggle by the Sask Party government.

As I said earlier in my commentary, it appears that Mr. Marit is "all show and no go". Maybe newly-minted Sask Party Premier Scott Moe should change up his carbon tax ads on tv to include rail transportation when he attacks Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau. Why has not our Sask Party government been in Ottawa over the entire winter lobbying all federal politicians to get on with passing legislation which will hold railways to account?

As I mentioned last week, there had not been one word out of the NDP opposition on this matter so even they got on the bandwagon last week and put out a release condemning the current situation. I would have thought a party which desperately needs to re-establish themselves outside of Saskatoon and Regina would jump on a topic like this to show that they are in tune with more than just their union-driven base. Both of their candidates could demonstrated leadership on behalf of everyone in this province but obviously have chosen not to do so during their leadership runs.

This is truly a sad commentary on the state of politics in this province. When will our elected people quit being simply cheque cashers and start earning their pay? It’s time to hold the rail industry to account.

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