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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

I know that some of you that read last week’s commentary will think that I am either a physic or have some inside source within the government. It is not the former and if I had the later, I certainly wouldn’t reveal my source. I am, of course, talking about the announcement about the sale of the Prince Albert Pulp Mill to new ownership. I believe this is a very positive development for Prince Albert and northern Saskatchewan. The fact that our wood industry can now start moving forward using trees that weren’t suitable for the various sawmills is very positive. There were many rumours floating around last summer about companies wanting to do this new process with wood pulp which can produce things like rayon fibre. Value adding to our wood resource like the PC government did in the past with fine paper is definitely the way to go. I am disappointed in the fact that the Sask Party government would not release the figures on the cost of the power plant that will go along with the re-jigged mill. The Minister, Bill Boyd, said that the costs were “defenceable”. Well, if it’s “defenceable”, tell us what the costs are and we will all make our own assessment if it is or if it isn’t. There has been far too much politics played with this plant over the years and the best way to stop that is to just tell everyone what the costs are and move on.

I had the opportunity to attend Question Period last Wednesday to observe what issues are being talked about and to assess the demeanour of the House. As everyone is aware, the Legislature has not been about good decorum and a working atmosphere for quite sometime. I am sad to report that the decorum hasn’t changed much and the working relationship has taken a turn for the worse – if that can be possible because the Sask Party government has a new found arrogance that is really sickening to watch. The Sask Party members must be believing their own polling which indicates another Sask Party majority government. The answers, or I should say non-answers, their Ministers were providing were really quite appalling. The Premier has been missing since last Tuesday because he is on a trade mission to India. I always thought that the Premier and Ministers should do their world touring in the many months when the House doesn’t sit so that they are available to answer for the government when session is in. It is no wonder that citizens become disenchanted with our democratic process when it becomes obvious our elected people don’t respect the institution either.

Speaking of not respecting our democratic process, the government has now announced that Saskatchewan people will not get to vote on the time change referendum. During the last election campaign before he was Premier, Brad Wall promised that such a referendum would take place at the time of the next election. This made sense because it would allow people 4 years to think about the issue and there would be very little extra cost because people were going to go to the polls to vote anyways. Now that Mr. Wall is Premier, he has decided that because the issue can get people passionate and worked up about their beliefs, he now doesn’t want to hold a referendum. Instead, the government evidentially commissioned 2 polls and the few people that responded apparently get to have the say for the entire province. The PC Party doesn’t hold an opinion on this matter but I personally would love to see another hour of sunshine in the evenings during the summer months. My wife, however, doesn’t think I need another hour of sunshine to either play or work so our household is like many others – split on the issue. I think the point here is that we were promised a referendum and now have been prevented from having our democratic say in this matter because the Premier and his handlers think the issue will be too divisive and might get in the way of his successful re-election. In other words – the Premier’s political hide – is more important than your opinion. What a great way to govern! What other promises will he make this election that he has no intention of keeping? We will soon find out.

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These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.

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