Last Thursday, I had a bit of a gap in calving so I took the opportunity to go down and take in Question Period at the Legislature. As a past member, I'm allowed to sit on the floor behind the opposition and watch the action unfold.
I like to do this periodically because you can tell a lot about what is going on in both the minds of the government and the opposition by the body language of the various players. I wanted to gage if the recent polling data was having an effect on the Sask Party government and whether the addition of Ryan Meili had made the NDP opposition more assertive and confident.
I also wanted to see how all of the public backlash against the Sask Party government's budget was playing out with how the various Ministers handled questions in the House. There is also some very contentious legislation before the Legislature with a Bill that takes away the ability of municipalities to sue the provincial government over the loss of grants in lieu and a Bill that will allow the government to sell up to 49% of certain Crown Corporations like SaskTel.
Last night I went to bed in a foul mood because the weather forecast was for snow overnight which is not good when you are calving cows and I had just finished reading the latest CBC revelations about the Global Transportation Hub. My mood was no better this morning. The first hour after daybreak was spent digging calves out of snow banks and putting out fresh bedding and feed. There is a newborn calf out there that may need some TLC in the barn after I finish writing this commentary. That's life in the cattle business!
The other part of my outrage this morning is directed at our Sask Party government and CP Rail for the outrageous deal they have foisted upon us at the Global Transportation Hub. It appears the Wall government gave CP Rail 300 fully-serviced acres of land at the GTH for FREE. I am talking all services, paved roads, parking lots and new highway access being built on our dime. All for a big fat ZERO! Meanwhile the City of Regina was paying 7.5 million dollars for the CP rail yard in downtown Regina at top dollar.
What is really inexcusable about this whole thing is that the media, the opposition and organizations like the Canadian Taxpayers' Association have been asking for the documents related to this transaction for months now. The government refuses to open up the books even though there are tens of millions of taxpayers' dollars involved in this deal.
As you have noticed, this commentary is a couple days later than normal. The logistics of working around the Easter egg hunt with the grandkids, attending several church services and calving a bunch of heifers for the first time in a long time meant that I, like most other people over the Easter long weekend, was taking a break from political thoughts. In fact, I sometimes think we dwell on this political stuff too much but unfortunately these days the decisions of politicians really do affect our lives in a lot of different ways.
Our newscasts are full of the ongoing discussions of the various city councils in this province as they have to redo their budgets, cut services and increase the tax bill for the average homeowner. We don't know yet what the outcome will be of those deliberations except there will be cuts and there will be tax increases.
I think you have all heard the phrase "one trick pony". It was obvious watching the Sask Party Cabinet Ministers' performances this last week handling the defence of an indefensible budget that without their principal cheerleader being present, our government is a "one trick pony".
Rather than stay-at-home and face the people of Saskatchewan over a budget which has made a lie out of everything Brad Wall campaigned on twelve months ago, our Premier has chosen to run off to Washington, DC and hobnob with some of his friends in the US Senate. Not surprising because we are paying a law firm from South Carolina about $400,000 a year to speak on our behalf in Washington. Our Premier might as well go down to Washington and get a few free meals at fancy private clubs from some US Congressmen and Senators rather than deal with the problems at home.
It's kind of interesting to note that at the same time that the US national coal museum has switched over to solar power in order to save on some of their heating and electrical bills, Mr. Wall continues promoting Saskatchewan's clean coal technology that we don't own. Meanwhile back at the ranch in Saskatchewan, Brad Wall's Ministers are busy dismantling a lot of the progress that previous governments have put in place over the last 50 years to make Saskatchewan a better place in which to live.
The Sask Party and its Premier Brad Wall's lack of long-term vision for the future has caught up with Saskatchewan BIG TIME. As of April 1st, the ramifications of this latest Sask Party budget are hitting everyone's pocketbook. None of us mind paying our fair share to make Saskatchewan a better place in which to live but it's really tough to swallow the mismanagement of our economy over the last ten years by this big spending government who have blown the greatest economic boom in our history.
What we have is the missed opportunity to value-add our economy coupled with a bunch of huge legacy projects for Brad Wall that this province cannot afford. A $2 billion south Regina bypass, which is in the wrong location to provide any meaningful, long-term employment, a questionable billion and a half dollar carbon capture plant that we don't own the technology for and numerous other big ticket items all add up to the mess we are into today. Many of these projects we will be paying for the next 30 years meaning there won't be money for other opportunities that may come along.
My thanks to PC Party President Grant Schmidt for a different way of looking at Saskatchewan's political scene over the last three weeks. I'm sure many of you appreciate Grant's direct way of problem solving and telling it like it is. He has devoted his life to being part of the public-policy process in our province and his commentaries certainly reflect that ongoing thirst to make our province a better place in which to live. I am sure that Grant and others will continue to contribute to this commentary over the next year.
Over the past three weeks, I've certainly had my fill of American politics and the ongoing drama around the Trump presidency. It's exhausting to watch! Many of my American acquaintances are beginning to feel the same way and would like to turn on their television sets to get some "real" news instead of this daily saga. It was good to see America's law makers pull back on the dismantling of their so-called Obama care medical system until they can come up with something better that will not take medical benefits away from tens of millions of their citizens. They will need some type of all-party initiative to make that happen or face the wrath of voters in 2018. Even Donald Trump has figured that out.
Because of the world-wide abilities of electronic communication and social media, I didn't totally leave the world of Saskatchewan and its politics while being away. That would be too much for a person like myself to do without going through some kind of massive withdrawal process. Like everyone else who pays taxes in this province, I was wondering how Mr. Wall and his Sask Party government were going to stop their big spending habits, poor policy decision making and an over-reliance on non-renewal resource revenue.
Enjoy today Monday March 20th. It is Happiness Day according to the Happiness Institute, Canada has slipped from the 6th to 7th and U.S. from 13th to 14th. In this short commentary the P.C. Party will not question the definition of happiness. Apparently, high tax countries are happier.
Just enjoy the day; BECAUSE Wednesday March 22nd is Liberal budget day in Saskatchewan and Canada. Beware of the budgets of March is my warning on Happiness Day.