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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Believe it or not, the 2nd week of January is looked forward to by thousands of Saskatchewan people even though the days are short, the nights are long and the temperature is usually closer to -20 than it is to +20. This is because it is Crop Production Week in Saskatoon and people involved in all aspects of agriculture will be flocking to producer meetings, information seminars and viewing what's new in technology and applied sciences relating to agriculture.

This is a great tradition and my hat goes off to all the people who are involved in the production of this show because it is a world-class event. For a politician, it's a great place to be. It certainly is a great opportunity to meet people and see what is going on in their world. It is also an opportunity to get a sense of how a big portion of Saskatchewan's economy is going to fair in the coming year.

I hope Santa was good to everyone. He certainly was good to our house and the many houses that we had the opportunity to visit over the holiday season. We were treated with exceptional weather so travelling for family and friends over the holiday season was a joy instead of a trial.

Saskatchewan and Canada are truly blessed because of the abundance that we are able to share with each other. It is no wonder that people from all over the world wish to come to this country and enjoy our way of life. It also should inspire and dedicate all of us to make sure that all citizens of our great country share these opportunities. We know that this not the case for everyone so we must be ever vigilant to try and ensure that the opportunities for a productive work place, a good educational system and the fundamentals of health and well being are hallmarks of Canadian life.

I think most of you are aware of the huge public demonstrations and furor in rural Alberta against the NDP government's Occupational Health and Safety legislation for agricultural workers. This legislation was brought in, I think, because of some widely-publicized incidents where severe injury and death has occurred on farms in Alberta and elsewhere.

Legislation is not necessarily the cure all for problems in life. Education and public awareness can often do the same job. I would have thought an experienced politician like Premier Rachel Notley would have understood that this topic if not handled properly would make people over-react. The government's approach of passing the legislation and then amending it later is a recipe for disaster. Proposed legislation that people could have studied and commented upon and then brought to the Legislature a year later, might have found the necessary compromises. After all, the goal is to make sure that agricultural families and the people that work in the business are adequately protected with things like disability insurance and decent compensation for injuries sustained on the job.

As I mentioned in last week's commentary, I went to Canora last Monday for the nomination of Merv Malish, as the PC candidate in the Canora-Pelly constituency. Merv and I did an interview at the local newspaper and then we all headed out to Stenen, Saskatchewan for the nomination.

Before the meeting, Merv and his group took Grant Schmidt and me to the local eating establishment called "Rawhides". What a wonderful experience that was. Rawhides used to be the old four-room community school which has now been transformed into a tremendous dining spot and tourist attraction. If I didn't know better, I would have sworn that I was in a resort somewhere in Montana. The original building has now been expanded to handle banquets, weddings and other social functions for northeast Saskatchewan. It has also become a mecca for snowmobilers and other outdoor enthusiasts.

I was fortunate over the past week to be able to attend Agribition on parts of three days. As you all know, this venue attracts thousands of people from all over the province and is an excellent place for a politician to hang out and see what is on people's minds.

One of the questions I wanted answered was whether people thought I was being too hard on the Sask Party government with the PC Party's advertising campaign against the south Regina bypass. Not one person I talked to thought the south Regina bypass at $2 billion dollars was a good idea and no one thought the PC Party was out of line. In fact the response I received the most from rural people was to kick them harder. We certainly intend to do that.

This week is a very special week for livestock producers in the province and a big week for agriculture in general because this is the 45th edition of Agribition. Agribition is the place where Saskatchewan livestock producers and producers across western Canada get a chance to showcase their hard work and dedication to the industry. People from around the world come to look at and purchase some of the best livestock genetics in the world.

Many Saskatchewan manufacturers also take this opportunity to present their latest inventions and sell their innovative products to the people from 70 different countries which will be attending Agribition along with tens of thousands of interested spectators. Joanne and I will be part of that crowd. If you get the chance, please take the opportunity to attend and support Saskatchewan's agricultural excellence.

This is my first opportunity to comment since the swearing in of the new Federal Liberal government. Congratulations to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on appointing what appears to be a highly-qualified and gender-balanced cabinet. Congratulations also to the Honourable Ralph Goodale for once again being appointed to cabinet and Saskatchewan's representative around the cabinet table.

With the Prime Minister's commitment to bringing thousands of Syrian refugees to Canada in the next few months and the recent events which unfolded in Paris, France, means Mr. Goodale has his work cut out for him regarding national security. Ralph Goodale has shown a steady hand in whatever cabinet portfolio he has held in the past and I am sure he will dedicate himself to ensuring that his new role as Canada's Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness will ensure the safety of Canadians.

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