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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

We have to feel for our fellow Canadians living in central British Columbia as wildfires rage through that part of beautiful BC. Hot dry weather along with the ravages of the bark pine beetle which has left millions of dead trees in BC's forest have created the perfect storm for people living in that area. One only has to wonder if the heat keeps up in Saskatchewan if we will not face some of the same challenges soon.

It's been a long time since I've seen hay crops dry down so quickly. I'm baling heavy alfalfa swaths in less than 48 hours. Many producers in Saskatchewan are going to be faced with a feed shortage this winter if they did not conserve hay stocks from the previous wet years. You can certainly see the damages that are occurring to many other crops that cannot take day-after-day above 30 degrees celsius with no rain. Let's keep our fingers crossed that there is a change in the weather for a whole lot of reasons.

It would appear from the newscasts and the live coverage of various events celebrating Canada's 150th birthday that it went very well all across the country. The weather cooperated in most parts of Canada and here in Saskatchewan, we certainly had a beautiful day.

I think Canadians have really come to understand that Canada is truly a very privileged place in which to live. I think for a long time we were envious of other peoples and I can remember growing up, people would say "I would like to live in this country or that country" after they grew up and received their education. One only has to look around at the various peoples who have immigrated to Canada and why they have come here to understand how fortunate we are.

This last week of June is always one of anticipation. This is the last week of school and kids no matter what their age, can't wait to begin summer holidays. Many families are booking their favourite camping spots and certainly Saskatchewan has lots of wonderful places to visit.

Last Saturday was our annual calf day when we get together as family and with the help of some friends, bring in the cows, sort the calves off and put them all through the chute. This year everything went very smoothly except for one little red brockle face calf that decided he didn't want to change from being a bull to becoming a steer! This calf took off into the bush in the coulee bottom and didn't reappear until he was hungry that evening. We will deal with him on another day.

A major policy proposal of the PC Party in the last election campaign was the elimination of the regional health authorities and the return of ministerial accountability and responsibility to health care. Along with that, we proposed the establishment of local quality care boards who would be elected by their peers at the same time as municipal councils were elected. We felt it was imperative that health spending be returned to the Legislative Assembly which should be the ultimate form of fiscal accountability in our province.

The Sask Party government during the election campaign basically made no comment on health care. The billion dollar deficit which the PC Party predicted came true and the Sask Party finally decided to act on health care reform. They announced the elimination of the regional health authorities but instead of ministerial accountability, they determined that a single health authority would be put in place to oversee the management and spending of health delivery in this province.

I think we were all willing to give them the benefit of the doubt both in tackling the huge budget deficits this government created by its bad choices and also because we all wanted to see patient-first care improved in this province. Finally after many months we get the announcement late last week about the new health authority.

This commentary is a day late because I took the opportunity to attend the Saskatchewan Stock Growers annual meeting. Their first day is always devoted to guest speakers and topics which relate to the cattle business in many different forms.

There is a very strong movement within the livestock sector to be environmentally sound managers of their entire operations. The Saskatchewan Stock Growers organization is certainly championing this change in how the cattle business conducts its day-to-day affairs. I think most people in the livestock sector are very much aware of the larger public's thoughts on animal welfare, bio-diversity, species at risk and the issues around the safety of the food we eat each and every day. There were presenters on all of these topics yesterday. The Stock Growers are to be congratulated for bringing all of this information forward.

It was good to see at this most recent Sask Party fundraising dinner in Regina that both the attendees and the people protesting the Sask Party agenda were able to do so in a civil manner. Our Sask Party Premier seems to have found a dose of humility and has started to accept the fact that governing can be a tough business.

He made one statement last week that I thought might be a watershed comment. He said that his government should be held accountable for all of their actions over the last ten years. I have never believed that the frustration and anger we are seeing today across Saskatchewan has only come about because of the most recent spring budget.

My first comments today are to offer congratulations to two Saskatchewan politicians who strutted their stuff on the national stage over the past weekend. The first congrat goes to Andrew Scheer - the newly elected leader of the Federal Conservative Party and the first Saskatchewanian to hold that position since John Diefenbaker. Mr. Scheer's come-from-behind victory is a testament to his ability to resonate with conservatives across the country. He wasn't everyone's first choice but obviously was on most people's ballots and therefore was able to overcome Mr. Bernier's lead on the previous 12 ballots. Hopefully he will be the strong opposition voice that we all need to keep Mr. Trudeau's government in line and listening to Canadians.

My second congrat goes out to Brad Trost who defied the pundants expectations of his campaign by placing a strong fourth throughout the balloting. Mr. Trost very effectively used his connections across Canada with various groups of social conservatives to sell a lot of memberships and raise significant campaign funds and obviously convinced people to get out and vote. Hopefully Mr. Trost's political skills can be put to good use by the new leader in presenting a strong alternative for Canadians.

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