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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson
For those of us living in the beautiful province of Saskatchewan, extreme weather conditions are a fact of life. Summer is fully upon us now with most of the coming week forecasting temperatures in the low 30's. I grew up on a family farm that has had a commercial haying component in it for most of my life. You learn how to tolerate hot weather when you are out in a hay field for most of July. I think Saskatchewan people will be better prepared than what we have seen in the province of Quebec where the deaths of dozens of people have been attributed to a summer heat wave. It's hard to imagine that happening in today's society and let's hope that we all watch out for people in our communities over the coming week that may be susceptible to heat stroke and other heat-related illnesses. Speaking of tragedies, one of the final pieces of the Humboldt Bronco's bus crash has now been revealed. Everyone in this province has wondered how such a tragedy could occur on our highway system. Late last week, the RCMP arrested the truck driver involved in the accident and formally charged him with dangerous driving causing death and dangerous driving causing injury. All of us who have seen pictures of the crash site knew there was something horribly wrong for this tragedy to occur. The rest of this story will play out in the court system as is the right of every person in Canada to have a fair and reasoned trial by a judge or by a judge and jury of our peers. These charges will not bring back the lost loved ones on that bus on that fateful day or take away the injuries that will last a life time with some of the survivors. Hopefully, it will bring some closure and hopefully, it will spur government to assess highway intersections across this province. Hopefully, there will be priorization of available funds to improve this vital component of our transportation system. This brings me to my final comment in this morning's commentary. There must be a focus in the coming years on transportation and the role it plays in our economy. The current trade dispute with Donald Trump's America, the unfolding of a potentially world changing trade war between the United States and China and the emergence of a growing middle class around the world means that the ability to move our goods and services in an expeditious manner is crucial to this province's well being. Quorum Corp, which is the company hired by the Federal government to monitor Canada's grain transportation system, reported last week a huge carry out of last year's crop because our rail system failed again last winter. Most of that carry out will occur in Saskatchewan. That will result in the loss of billions of dollars in our communities. The latest attempt to buy out the exiting ownership of the rail line to Churchill, Manitoba has failed and the window to repair that rail line from flood damage is closing once again. There are still no time tables established for the Trans Mountain Pipeline and no one has attempted to resurrect the Energy East initiative to move western oil to eastern Canadian refineries and markets. In my view, the vision of all future Saskatchewan governments must be focused on working with the private sector, with other governments and with our existing partnerships to deal with our land locked status. We are seeing increasing truck traffic on our roads and highways every year because trucks have more flexibility in moving product in a timely manner and give the exporter of products more flexibility to make sales and meet deadlines. This increased traffic also has a huge cost attached to it. Those roads and highways must be repaired, they must be upgraded and they must ensure safety for our citizens so that we don't witness more tragic accidents as we have this last spring. Seeing our rail lines once again being choked with oil tanker cars at the expense of other commodities does not solve the problem. Having two monopoly railroads does not solve the problem. Having only a few access points to American railroads and ports does not solve the problem and spending $2 billion on 40 miles of highway around the City of Regina definitely does not solve the problem. It is time that we collectively stamp our feet as citizens and as taxpayers and demand from our political leaders at all levels of government that they start priorizing our resources to solve these problems or Saskatchewan will be forever at the mercy of horrific accidents, stagnant economies and a future less bright than what it should be. In the last election campaign, the PC Party tried to get the discussion going on solving these problems. We talked about enhancing the short line rail system. We talked about a better bypass route and we talked about upgrading our resources here. I am positive our new leadership will continue to do so. 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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