MONDAY MORNING COMMENTARY BY LEADER RICK SWENSON
MAY 28, 2018
Good morning everyone! After a three week absence and a whole lot of hours sitting on tractors and fixing old machinery, it's time to get my mind back to what is important for Saskatchewan. Thanks to PC Party President Grant Schmidt for writing the commentary the last three weeks
I'm sure there are a thousand more like me who get tired of the monotony of long hours in the field and constantly worrying about what Mother Nature is up to. It's been very dry in my part of Saskatchewan and for a couple of weeks - for the first time in my living memory - my RM had a total ban on burning. That is the situation across much of our province. A long and hot summer will keep all of us very vigilant and thinking about wild fires.
Since last Wednesday night, we received 6/10" of an inch of rain in a couple of thunderstorms and we are very thankful for it. Some of those lentils that I put into dry dirt may now actually germinate. Saskatchewan needs a three-day soaker in the worst way.
Speaking of things Saskatchewan needs, leadership in one key area that seems to have gone by the wayside. Canada has always been a nation of builders. Our climate dictates that we need to build warm homes and good roads. The size of our country means that we must build good transportation infrastructure to tie our country together and be commercially viable. Nation building occurs when all of our citizens benefit from our rich resource base.
All my life, I have always rejoiced when I heard the words to the song "This Land is Your Land, This Land is My Land" because it typifies Canada. The song does not say from the Atlantic to Rogers Pass. It says "From the Atlantic to the Pacific". We have a lack of leadership in this country both federally and provincially. Our Prime Minister is not acting like a Prime Minister and we have provincial Premiers who think they are running banana republics.
When I read a story about how domesticated salmon in pens in coastal British Columbia maybe spreading disease to the wild pacific salmon, I pay attention. Those salmon swimming up the rivers of British Columbia have been a huge asset to Canadians. When drought ravaged Saskatchewan in the 1930's, many of our citizens would go to British Columbia to work in the mining and lumber camps, the canning factories and the fruit orchards in order to sustain themselves through those difficult times of drought and poverty.
For the Premier of British Columbia to suggest that the Pacific Coast of British Columbia is only available to the whims of his Green Party allies is utter and complete nonsense. It appears that being the Premier of British Columbia is the best job that John Horgan has ever had and he will do anything to hang onto it including screwing the rest of Canada if need be.
If we do not smarten up and start thinking like Canadians of old, we will simply turn in to a more civilized version of the old Yugoslavia which split into a whole bunch of entities that went to war with one another and became a disgrace to Europe and cost the lives of thousands.
Prime Minister Trudeau senior, who I had very little regard for, declared the War Measures Act and put the boots to the separatists in Quebec. I believe he would tell Mr. Horgan to fuddle-duddle and get out of the way because Canada needs an oil pipeline to the Pacific Coast. Dief the Chief would be pillaring poor Mr. Horgan from every podium across this country and would have told him to get out of the road because we are building a pipeline. Sir John A. built a railroad across this country because Canada needed to be a nation from sea to shining sea.
Premier Notley refused last week to sit down at the Western Premier's conference with Mr. Horgan for good reason. Our Premier Moe went and evidentially didn't say much because Mr. Horgan told the media after the conference ended that he felt no pressure from his fellow leaders on the pipeline issue at all. I can tell you without a second thought that I would have made it so damn uncomfortable at that Premier's meeting that Mr. Horgan and his officials would have packed up their papers and gone home.
Leadership is about more than your own personal or political well-being. As a Canadian, I care about BC salmon, I care about Ontario's auto workers and I care about the people in the Maritimes who rely on foreign oil because they can't get access to the Canadian product. If we are going to even think about using Canadian taxpayer's dollars to buy out Kinder Morgan, then maybe it's time to go all in and also use the CN right of way to Prince Rupert which the Canadian government has owned for generations and finishing off the energy east project while we are at it to get enough pipeline capacity to make Canada work as it should.
Our Prime Minister - of whatever political stripe - needs to lead this country to energy independence and economic self sufficiency because others around the world will throw us under the bus doing the same thing for their country.
Your feedback is always welcome on anything you read in the Monday Morning
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.
It is time to bring voting in Saskatchewan into the computer age. We need a chipped voter’s card.
Two weeks ago, I called for a smart Health Card to replace our thirty year old now dumb health card. Voter I.D. and our driver’s licence could also benefit from new information technology (IT).
As Minister of SGI, I introduced our first photo driver’s licence. We still have an old tech driver’s licence and no voter’s I.D. card.
Saskatchewan should innovate to develop a universal Sask. I.D. card. A new driver’s licence could be expanded to include a health card and voter’s all-in-one chip card with a photograph on it.
As a phase in, the driver’s licence could show if the card is for a citizen or a legal resident. The driver’s licence with it’s address could be the first voter’s card. Citizens with no driver’s licence would be issued a photo voter’s I.D. card.
Everyone could vote anywhere in Saskatchewan and Elections Saskatchewan would not need to prepare voters’ lists. A card reader would print your ballot from electronic records. After you mark your ballot, your vote would be sent to your constituency electronically after the count.
AND no you could not vote with your phone. If you are not prepared to make the effort to get to one of 2700 polls in Saskatchewan, you are not engaged enough to vote. You will be recorded as don’t care.
One role of Government is to solve problems. STC’s money loosing bus system was a long term problem. The Sask Party’s solution was to terminate STC without a plan.
In ten years, the Sask Party could not figure out how to run a bus company. The Sask Party caused a new problem: No bus service.
A role of Government is to solve problems. This week pcsask.ca has a solution to highway intersection tragedies.
We do not yet know why the semi-trailer truck hit the Humboldt Broncs’ bus. Why did the truck driver not hear audio GPS warnings from a system in his truck?
Available GPS technology can send an audible warning to drivers that they are approaching an intersection, street light, or stop sign.
The Progressive Conservative Party (pcsask.ca) proposes mandatory GPS warning systems in all commercial trucks operating in Saskatchewan.
If a driver hears; warning stop sign 300 meters ahead; warning intersection with a through highway 250 meters; warning stop sign 200 meters ahead, the driver is likely to stop.
The solution will not cost the province any tax money and will cost the trucking companies one-half the price of a tire. The NDP and Sask. Party only understand to throw taxpayers’ money on the problem.
This is another progressive solution from pcsask.ca.
Grant Schmidt - President
PC Party of Saskatchewan
This week your President is doing a report. Our volunteer Leader, Rick, has to get ready for seeding.
Three decades ago when Rick Swenson and I were the youngest cabinet ministers in Grant Devine’s P.C. Government, our progressive ideas were occasionally accepted.
In the early days of Incentivism we were looking at using incentives in the health system. Your plastic Saskatchewan Health card was the first step in the incentivism experiment.
Look at your blue, green, yellow, and dumb health card. Turn it over and you will see a magnetic strip. Pcsask.ca introduced this innovative health card, in our plan to revolutionize the Saskatchewan Health system.
Before you or your parents received this plastic card, the NDP had a paper health card. Back then there was no pcsask.ca, the internet was just invented, you had a dumb phone, and the Health Department had an antique computer system.
This smarter health card was adapting existing technology. Credit cards had a magnetic strip to swipe them. The plan was to have the plastic Health Card work like a health credit card. The patients use their health credit card and the taxpayers pay the bill each month. Medicare is the Canadian way, but it doesn’t have to inefficient.
The new card was to be connected to a new computer system. You would have presented it at the doctor, hospital, labs, and pharmacies. You would be presented with a bill so you can see what had been done and sign for the services charged to your card. The card was a foundation for an informative and financially secure health system. Premiers Romanow, Calvert, Wall, and Moe, inherited the plastic credit card and have done nothing with new technology. The NDP, Sask. Party, and Provincial auditor never seemed to be able to figure out how to implement the plan.
Smart cards with computer chips have been invented and placed in your bank cards. The internet developed, smart phones replaced land lines, and tap technology have all become common IT devices. You still have your dumb Health Card because the NDP and Sask Party Governments have not had the vision or ability to use the new technology.
The pcsask.ca vision is for smart a Health Card operating in a united coordinated health system. Saskatchewan is now years behind the world in technology. The Sask. Party still has a lean mean and dumb health system eighteen years into the new millennium. Hospital charting, medical data, hospital and pharmacy data and billing are still in the last century.
The Canada health system must be dragged into a modern data based smart health system.
The February 2018 issue of the Economist has Doctor You on their cover. They have reported parts of the world are adopting the health technology Rick Swenson and I envisioned. The Economist is reporting in the future you the patient will be included and integrated in the provision of your health care. You the patient will be one of your doctors by helping diagnose your condition.
You (the patient) care and know more about your health than anyone in the health system. In Saskatchewan, our antiquated health records system limits your access to your health records.
Our dumb Health Card gives doctors and the health monopoly no access to your records. A smart card in a smart system would give instant access to health professionals. Modern AI progress could help instantly diagnose your condition and even recommend treatment.
If you now want access to your scattered paper health records, you will have to pay a large fee for high cost employees to gather and copy your records.
What you, the patient, really need to know is that in the U.S. 250,000 people per year die from medical errors. The Economist claims that most of these deaths can be attributed to poorly coordinated care.
Proportionally, in Canada 25,000 people per year would die from medical errors. You or I should not be one of the victims of our inefficient health system.
In Sweden, the government proposes to give citizens electronic access to their medical records by 2020.
Pcsask.ca has solutions to modernizing our health system. A smart Health Card is part of the solution.
Grant Schmidt - President P.C. Party of Saskatchewan – Pcsask.ca
It appears spring has finally sprung! The seven-day forecast is for the high teens and the low 20's and no snow in sight. It's going to be great to finally get the yard dry enough to start working on seeding machinery and cleaning seed. This will be the first crop I've seeded since 2014 so I know there will be some challenges both with the machinery and with the guy running the equipment. I'm sure everything will come back but there will be a few challenging days before the old memories kick back in. Time will tell.
Do you remember when you were a small child and you would have bad nightmares and your parents would do their best to calm your fears and tell you that whatever was waking you up in the middle of the night would fade away as you grew up? Unfortunately when you are involved in agriculture in western Canada, there is a reoccurring nightmare that you don't seem to be able to do anything about no matter how old you get.
That nightmare is the inability of getting the commodities you've worked so hard to grow and produce to their markets around the world and pay your bills. The nightmare is doubly scary because you seem powerless to do anything about it because it keeps happening over and over again. All of Saskatchewan is affected by this nightmare both urban and rural and it seems no matter who we elect, both federally and provincially, they can't stop the nightmare.
Once again, we are facing the probability of a shutdown of one of our two national railways. These railways have a monopoly over hauling all of our products to tide water and to major value-adding facilities. After a long and cold winter where our two national railways once again under-performed and tried to blame their under-performance on the weather, we now have our good weather potentially blocked by a strike of the members of two major unions and their contractual negotiations with CP Rail.
Why couldn't the unions and CP Rail have not settled their labour issues during the cold winter months when they were under-performing as it was? Almost all of our commodities are under stress because of the NAFTA negotiations, the inability to build new pipelines, the unfair tariffs put on our crops by countries like India and the obvious increases in container and other consumer traffic on our railway system.
I have absolutely no problem with workers banding together to negotiate good working conditions and fair wages from their employers. I grew up and went to school with many individuals who have spent their working lives working for CP Rail. My acquaintances tell me that this can be a very demanding and stressful way of making a living and they need to be compensated accordingly. Safe working conditions in the work place should be mandatory. CP Rail has a history of thinking that they own western Canada and everything produced in it because we have had no other option to move our products.
At some point in time, we must have the political leadership in this country to change that attitude and come up with a system that doesn't allow this reoccurring nightmare. I would prefer solutions that are more market-friendly than simply the heavy hand of government. But because these two national railways operate as virtual monopolies, the federal government must regulate them.
During the last provincial election, the PC Party of Saskatchewan promoted the idea of strengthening our short-line rail system and finding ways to connect that system to the Burlington Northern Railway in the United States. We believe this was the right thing to do because it would give our commodities another marketing option to get to tide water.
Those connections and improvements would be paid for by tolling fees that would be charged on the commodities being transported. We also believe that it's time through regulation that we have improved running rights on the rail beds in western Canada. The taxpayers of this province and Canada have paid for those road beds over and over again. I don't think the taxpayers have any interest in running the engines and rolling stock necessary to run railroads. Taxpayers have no interest in the thousands of employees that it takes to run railroads but we do have a strong interest in getting our commodities to market when one or both of our railroads and their employees stop doing the job at hand.
Surely to goodness we could have rail cars full of commodities on one line going to the Port of Vancouver and the empties coming back on another line to be refilled again. In my view, it shouldn't matter whose railway the one-way traffic travels on as long as they get paid for the cargo that originated in their system. Surely we could put an arbitration process in place that allows employees to be fairly treated without the necessity to strike in our most crucial shipping periods.
I thought we elected people to show the necessary leadership to solve these problems and not simply leave them to the vagaries of corporate greed or the agendas of union bosses. When is that old saying of "enough is enough" going to be a reality in western Canada? Every person here and their standard of living depends on the production and movement of our products to the international marketplace. 150 years of railway nonsense has taught us how hurtful this reoccurring nightmare is.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.
We are one day short of a week of this year's provincial budget presentation. As usual with these well-crafted documents, particularly if they are crafted by a government who feels political power slipping from their grasp, the devil is in the details.
The initial reaction seemed to be one of relief that there weren't the drastic cuts and tax hikes that occurred in last year's budget. There was no stripping away of money for schools, libraries and the funerals of Saskatchewan's poorest citizens. The changes in the Sask Party brain trust made sure those events wouldn't happen again. The reality is, however, that this Sask Party government is adding $2.3 billion to the provincial debt and is not setting a path for economic growth.
By last Friday, we found out that no matter how good a deal you thought you made with your local car dealer on a used car or truck, you will be charged PST according to what some bureaucrat in SGI deems it is worth. Once again, we have a Crown Corporation being used as a financial milk cow by the Sask Party government.
This is the same old trick the previously NDP governments used by using our Crown Corporations - many of which are monopolies - to back-door tax us. As the days and weeks move on, there will be other examples of cash grabs by this broke Sask Party government that has no vision for the future except winning another provincial election by talking to their base.
The next shoe to drop will probably be a down-grade in Saskatchewan's credit rating so that we can spend more of our hard-earned dollars paying interest on the debt racked up by things like the Regina bypass. One or two overpasses and a few traffic lights would have saved lives and not burdened this province with generations of debt.
I've always believed in my personal life and when I was in government that you borrow money to make money and then when you make money, you can spend it to improve the quality of life for your family and in the case of government, for the citizens of this province. You put in place the incentives that will encourage people to create wealth. The Sask Party has learned how to create wealth for a few of their rich friends and the Party's election bank account. They have forgotten about the rest of us.
In case some of you did not see the release, the PC Party of Saskatchewan will be holding a leadership convention on the 3rd and 4th of November, 2018 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. I think it is very important that Saskatchewan pays attention to this event, that good people put their name forward to contest this leadership and that the PC Party has a new beginning and therefore gives Saskatchewan voters a choice they currently don't have.
Saskatchewan needs a made-in-Saskatchewan Conservative party that is fiscally responsible and socially progressive. Saskatchewan needs a party that talks about incentives and brings forth policies that brings out Saskatchewan's entrepreneurial excellence so that we can generate the wealth necessary to have a fair and just society.
Stay tuned for some new ideas from the people seeking the leadership of the PC Party and stay tuned for some new ideas coming from the people who have been around the PC Party for a long time and stay tuned for more bad news out of this Sask Party budget.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.