Late last week, it was another sad day for democracy in Saskatchewan. The Sask Party once again demonstrated their obsession with blocking the PC Party’s ability to rebuild and communicate with Saskatchewan citizens.
I received a letter late last Thursday from Speaker Dan D’Autremont saying that because of the way that Grant Schmidt and I had acted during our visit to the Legislative Building last December, our access to the people’s Legislature would be severely limited.
We did our first harvesting on the Swenson farm this past weekend. The dry, hot weather in our part of Saskatchewan is really bringing the crop in. It has also cut the yields back but it is nice to have a crop to harvest when there are so many that don’t have anything. The yellow peas that we did seem to be of good quality and prices look good right now. It looks like a lot of crop will be harvested in the next few weeks around here if this hot weather continues.
I really need to have an early harvest because on last Friday, I announced that I would be seeking election in the riding of Moose Jaw North in the 2011 provincial election. This is the first time a Progressive Conservative has run in that seat since 1995. There is lots of work to do and there is a big challenge ahead in re-establishing the PC brand but I believe it is a seat that is ready-made for the Leader of a political party and for the PC Party. Moose Jaw North is like a lot of the rest of Saskatchewan outside of Regina and Saskatoon. There have been many promises by both NDP and Sask Party governments but after you paw through the rhetoric, not much of anything really happens. Moose Jaw has had a significant erosion of its industrial base over the last half dozen years. And for all the supposed “expertise” around the Sask Party government’s “Enterprise Saskatchewan” there has been virtually nothing occurring in Moose Jaw and area and in fact, nothing around the province tied to this initiative.
Moose Jaw’s health care institutions have been promised much but nothing more than expensive studies have occurred. In fact, Moose Jaw recently lost one of its long-standing senior’s care facilities in Ina Grafton Gage Home which has been sponsored by the United Church for decades. The Moose Jaw health region, like most of the other ones around Saskatchewan, has recently had a round of very-large pay increases for its staff. And yet, the bricks and mortar part of health care and the recruitment of the necessary doctors and professionals has gone unanswered. I think Moose Jaw is a great place to run in the next election because it is a media center, it is close to Regina and has all of the unfulfilled promises of a Sask Party government that has had the best times and the most money to spend in living memory. I am hoping my announcement will convince Brad Wall and his inner circle that without an announcement very soon on the Moose Jaw Union Hospital, Warren Michelson’s 33 vote majority in 2007 will quickly evaporate. There is no sense in Moose Jaw returning to the NDP because we had an NDP Premier, Lorne Calvert, who was born and raised in Moose Jaw and represented a Moose Jaw riding for 13 years and yet when he became Premier and had a couple of NDP Cabinet Ministers from Moose Jaw, nothing was done to improve Moose Jaw’s hospital or the economic outlook of the city.
It is very easy to look around Moose Jaw and area and see the footprint of the last PC government in Saskatchewan. Things like the Water Corp, Saskferco (Yara), Providence Place, the geo-thermal wells which led to the Temple Gardens Mineral Spa and unfortunately the closed General Cable Manufacturing facility. There are many other smaller initiatives that have put Moose Jaw and area in good stead for decades even after the PC government was defeated in 1991. I believe people in many areas around Saskatchewan when they look around their neighbourhood are realizing the same thing. The Sask Party has had unprecedented wealth and what have they done with it for Moose Jaw and area or most other parts of Saskatchewan outside of Regina and Saskatoon? Yes, Paul Hill has a new office tour in Regina half filled with provincial civil servants after Wall promised to cut the civil service and the other half filled with potash executives courtesy of the taxpayers of Saskatchewan. There are many more examples of Mr. Wall and his friends doing quite well in this economic boom.
I will be reminding the voters of Moose Jaw North and the rest of Saskatchewan about that record in the next 2½ months. I hope there are enough like-minded individuals who will stand up across this province and drive this message home.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.
What a difference a week makes in Saskatchewan. From rain and snow to +26 C in a matter of days, and now we hear the roar of tractors running day and night trying to get the crop in. We used to call this the biggest mega project in the province but now it seems to take a back seat to a lot of other things and hardly gets mentioned in the halls of political power these days. It was therefore nice to hear this past week that a BC company - Donald’s Fine Foods has purchased the moth-balled pork plant in Moose Jaw and is looking at a late 2010 start up date. They are talking about 200 jobs being created which will be a tremendous boost to Moose Jaw and give Saskatchewan hog producers an alternative market a lot closer to home. The city of Moose Jaw took quite a financial hit to make this deal happen but understood that an empty building wasn’t going to make a winner out of anyone. The Mayor and council should be commended.
Speaking of winners and losers, just about everyone involved with economic development in this province has come to the same conclusion about the Premier’s much bragged about “Enterprise Saskatchewan”. It has been a waste of time and money. Other than a chance for some of the Sask Party’s biggest financial donors to get together and have lunch at the expense of the taxpayers of this province, not one job has been created. As Bruce Johnstone of the Leader Post said instead of cutting its budget from $45 million to $35 million per year, simply admit your mistake and cancel the thing entirely and start fresh. Or better yet, take some advice from Progressive Conservatives - we know how to build things that last for the long haul. Mr. Wall - get your hands off of our Trust Funds and we will be happy to talk about economic development and it won’t cost the taxpayers all those fancy lunches.
My final comment for the week involves the now independent member of the Legislature for Saskatoon Northwest and the fact that he hasn’t darkened the door of the Assembly since his fall from grace. Evidently, he has a medical leave (I didn’t know embarrassment was a medical condition) to be absent and was quoted in the media to the effect that because he was now an independent, his power to represent the people who elected him had all but disappeared. I would trade places with him in a heartbeat. A single member with the courage of his or her convictions can still get the job done. It’s not an easy row to hoe but look at Linda Haverstock after the ‘91 Saskatchewan election or Debra Grey who was the only Reformer in the federal House of Commons. If Mr. LeClerc is going to collect the paycheque, he better walk the walk. I had a medical dispensation while going through 9 months of chemotherapy in 1987 as a sitting member. I still attended the Legislature whenever I wasn’t directly on the 7 different drugs they gave me to get cured. Mr. Wall and his college Ted Merriman recruited this guy, they should take the lead in telling him to either do your duty or be gone and let someone else with better character step up and do the job for the voters of Saskatoon. I’m not holding my breath that either one will do that.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.
Well another week has gone by and the Legislature continues to be a gong show. The Serge LeClerc situation just keeps on rolling with new allegations from the NDP that he was using his constituency assistant to do all the bookings for his motivational speaking business. This is a reported $100,000.00 a year business venture for him and would be totally against the rules of the Leg Assembly if it were true. It will be very interesting if the missing laptop computer, paid for by Saskatchewan taxpayers that is supposedly in Ontario, shows up and the hard-drive is examined. The worst thing about this whole scenario is that the Legislature is tied up with scandal and back-biting between the two parties and the people’s business is not getting done. Why can’t some of these so-called politicians simply man-up and admit their mistakes so that the public agenda can be dealt with. None of these folks want to take responsibility for their actions and yet they are supposed to be leading by example. We need change.
Speaking of leading by example … how about the young lady from Moose Jaw who has been waiting forever for a kidney transplant and decided to take her case to the Legislature and confronted our do nothing Minister of Health with her plight. She has a donor all lined up - her father. All the tests are done and there she sits taking dialysis every two hours because the transplant team and the Health Department can’t get their act together. Saskatoon has had an excellent record for over twenty-five years of doing successful kidney transplants and allowing dozens of people to carry on their lives in a normal manner. This situation has been going on since last June. Where is the responsibility and accountability in our system? What if people die because of this ineptitude? We should all lend our support to this brave young lady and others who are fighting for justice and their lives.
On the subject of accountability - there are rumours out there that potash is beginning to move and that prices have strengthened. Similarly, oil prices have been inching up and provincial land sales for oil and gas exploration have improved dramatically. I mention this because the deficit the Sask Party government plunged us into and the hacking and slashing they did in the last budget may be mitigated with improvements in resource revenue. Which of the items cut in the budget are they going to reinstate? Is the Children’s Hospital going to go forward and is the Finance Minister going to tell the truth if the situation gets better? My fear is that the Sask Party government may keep pleading poverty through the year, stock pile the money and then conveniently pull it out of the hat for the election in 2011. The government should be compiling a priorities list - a must do list that is available to the public for comment so that if circumstances do improve, we are all aware of the options. We in the PC Party talk about doing things for the right reasons. It’s our mantra and we expect no less of the others.
My finale comment for the week is about our great uranium resource. In the Saskatoon Star Phoenix on Saturday, there was an excellent editorial on what should be happening with our huge uranium reserves. It voiced the same message that the PC Party ran on in the 2007 election and was almost the same message that was in a letter to the editor that yours truly sent to all the major papers back in 2006. It’s always nice to be a bit ahead of your time but the consequences of not doing anything are hurting our province horribly and we may be losing opportunities for growth and prosperity which may not come our way again for decades. The Sask Party government botched the nuclear debate last spring and summer accomplishing nothing but bringing together the detractors and seeming to lose whatever courage they might have had on the issue. I would encourage anyone who has not seen the editorial to look it up, read it and pass your comments on. Simply go to the Star Phoenix website and hit the editorial section for April 24/10. We must have the debate in this province about the whole fuel cycle and not just the debate on nuclear power. The rewards in my view are too great to pass over without at least having a meaningful debate on the issue before we get to the next election and have the Sask Party and the NDP play their silly games with it.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.