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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

I finally finished seeding last week. What a relief! The weirdness of Saskatchewan's weather and my three-year layoff from planting crops have made this a very challenging year so far. It seems like we went from winter to summer overnight, from drought to heavy downpours which now means seeding, spraying and haying are all happening in the same 10-day window. It's a good thing that I've had the stress of politics in my life so that I can handle the stress that comes with farming or maybe it's the other way around. It's a long ways until harvest so I guess we will see how life unfolds. This past weekend, it was great to take a short break and head up to Watrous, Saskatchewan for the first of the PC Party's leadership forums in advance of the Party's convention on November 3rd. I joined with other PCs Friday evening for some socializing, some discussion on policy and current political happenings in Saskatchewan. I haven't been to Manitou Beach for quite some time and it was awful to see how the flooding of that lake has affected the beautiful area along the shoreline. Unrestricted drainage has huge consequences for this jewel of a place in the middle of Saskatchewan. Saturday morning bright and early at 7 AM was a round of golf with some of my fellow participants and then back to our great facility at the Watrous Golf Club to hear Paul Carroll, the first declared candidate for leaders of the PC Party, outline some of his ideas on building the Party and some policy initiatives which Paul thinks will help Saskatchewan get back on track. Paul took questions from the audience and then I and President Grant Schmidt joined him at the front of the room to do a question and answer on all things political in the province of Saskatchewan. Congratulations to Paul for being the first in and leading the way. This was a very good event and my congratulations to Vice President Glen Leason and Executive Director Dave Bucsis for the great job in organizing the event. Please stay tuned for other events as this race unfolds. I'm sure many of you have seen the pictures of the large rail derailment of oil tanker cars in the US Midwest. This derailment really stands out because the train is in the middle of what looks like a lake. There is a lot of localized flooding going on in this area because of heavy rain events. The railroad track is the only thing sticking up out of the water in the entire aerial photograph. The train looks like it is nearly a mile long. All oil cars carrying oil to a refinery somewhere in the US. You can bet that because the oil is Canadian the environmental lobby will say it came from the oil sands. Because some of it has escaped into the river system, it will be a news event for weeks to come. Because it is Canadian oil and President Trump is on a Canada-bashing spree, we will become the whipping boy for all sorts of interest groups in the US going into the midterm elections. Sending a loaded train down those tracks given the surrounding conditions in my view is unconsciousable and criminal. Somebody should be fired for letting it happen. A buried pipeline would be far easier to mitigate and to clean up. Those railcars should be carrying grain, potash and other commodities that wouldn't pollute any river system across a freely traded North American continent. The fact that they are being forced to transport oil that way is a sign of failure by politicians on both sides of our border. My final comment of the day is on the hurry-up, slapped together plan unfolded by our Sask Party Premier this last week on fixing the equalization formula. There is no question the equalization formula needs to be renegotiated. Non-renewable resources from western Canada are being lumped in with other parts of the equalization formula while things like hydro power and its dividends are not being lumped into equalization and this necessitates badly needed changes. Canada and Saskatchewan have a huge interaction because of things like our reliance on transportation which is federally regulated and our large and growing First Nations population which the federal government funds in a huge way through health, education and housing. The rewriting of the funding arrangements for key areas like this is extremely important. I would suggest that Premier Moe's hurry up on the equalization file is more about picking a fight with Quebec and the federal government just in advance of the Premier's conference in order to take people's minds off the poor performance of his Sask Party government and that of his predecessor Brad Wall. I don't know if it is coincidence or not but the amount of money under Mr. Moe's formula which Saskatchewan would receive seems to be close to the amount of money that he is going to be short on his deficit projections. It has always been one of the easiest political games to play when you can find the appropriate outside entities to castigate and campaign against rather than your own tired and miserable record at home. Brad Wall had 10 years to seriously negotiate on non-renewable resources as did NDP Premiers before him. I believe Scott Moe's simple math is a non-starter. We need a Premier with some long-term vision and long-term goals sitting down with other Premiers and Prime Ministers to negotiate a long-term solution for all Canadians. That is why I encourage all of you to start participating in the PC Party's leadership process. Otherwise we are simply stuck with politicians whose only focus is their own 4-year election cycle and their parties survivability to the detriment of all of us. 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. Don’t forget to check out our website at pcsask.ca. These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

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