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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Last week I mentioned that we were getting our first taste of winter. Well it seems the first taste turned into the second taste and the third taste. We have had over 4 inches of moisture on our farm in the last two weeks. It's going to take a lot of sunshine and some heat to dry the ground out enough for people to start harvesting again. It may be, in some places, that the ground will have to freeze before combines and swathers and grain hauling can begin again.

Some of you will think it extremely odd that my next comments will be about drought. We do know, however, that in our global economy that adverse weather in other parts of the world can dramatically affect what happens here. Last week, there was a group of climatologists and scientists who got together and released a report on the drought in the southwest United States. Some of these people believe that states like California, Arizona and Nevada could be in a 100-year drought cycle. There is historical evidence to show that this has occurred in the past.

It looks like we just might be getting our first taste of winter later today and into tomorrow. We had our fair share of wind and rain yesterday and through the night so it has definitely put a halt to my fence building project for a couple of days. There is still quite a bit of crop out in this area and a heavy snow fall would be very bad for it so hopefully it will melt as fast as it falls.

In a little over a month from now on November 5th, the PC Party will be holding its annual general meeting and policy discussion at Temple Gardens Mineral Spa in Moose Jaw. I would personally like to invite all the readers of this commentary to think about dropping by for the day. The registration cost is a modest $40.00 which includes your buffet lunch. Please give Stu a call at the PC office to register and get all the details (306-693-7572).

Like many of you later tonight, I will be tuning into my television at 7:00 PM to watch the first Presidential debate of the US election campaign. The media types are speculating there may be a world-wide audience of 100 million people. Unfortunately people will be drawn to this spectacle for a lot of reasons other than how the United States is going to get out of the mess that it is in.

It is absolutely mind-boggling to me that this is the best two individuals they can find out of 330 million people to run the country. It is important for a country like Canada which shares over 4,000 miles of border, huge trading relationships and in fact many family relationships to watch this process unfold with keen interest.

Speaking of watching with keen interest, another one of the PC Party's policy proposals is making more sense each and every day. We are now having almost weekly reports of serious crimes being perpetrated on innocent civilians across rural Saskatchewan. We are seeing the inability of the RCMP to provide adequate policing and in fact, have serious revelations of understaffing and morale issues in our national police force.

One of the things that truly amazed me when I was appointed to Cabinet as the Minister of Energy and Mines was that I had the authority to shut down any pipeline in the province if it was determined there were issues of public safety. Obviously it's a power that no Minister of the Crown would take lightly because of the impact it would have on that particular pipeline's suppliers and customers. It would also have ramifications on international trade because so many of our pipelines cross the 49th parallel into the United States.

The recent Husky Oil spill into the North Saskatchewan River and the Sask Party government's refusal to open up their investigation to the public is a real dereliction of responsibility. Because of the number of pipelines which cross streams, rivers and lakes many of which contribute to the potable water supply of tens of thousands of our citizens, it is important that we get this right.

Last weekend, we celebrated Labour Day and the tremendous contribution working men and women make to the province of Saskatchewan. This province has been built on the hard work and ingenuity of its people. Most people I talk to really only want the opportunity to have a good secure job in a safe work environment and they will get out of bed in the morning and contribute to our society.

It is very disconcerting to see the numbers released last Friday which show that Saskatchewan lost 4,000 jobs in the month of August compared to last year. In fact, we have more people unemployed in August than any time in the last 30 years. Employment declined in 9 of our 15 industry groups and some commentators are speculating that we will see the first year of negative job growth since 2001. So much for the Wall government's reliance on resource extraction as their only policy for job creation.

The other shoe has finally dropped for some now-former members of the Sask Party government. I think many of us have been extremely frustrated by the under-performing and over-spending members of the Wall cabinet who blissfully went along spending our money and making Saskatchewan's economic woes lengthen by the day.

Premier Wall's much-anticipated cabinet shuffle happened last week and names like Boyd, McMorris and Heppner are gone. There were also a few minor players who weren't invited back for good reason. There were a few others like Harpauer and Tell that should have been gone but probably hung on because of Wall's need for some gender balance. Thank goodness he had some newly-elected bright and articulate female MLAs to put into cabinet and hopefully correct some of the glaring mistakes made by others.

To those of us that fought long and hard against the waste of taxpayer's money on both the Global Transportation Hub and the south Regina bypass, the removal of the three main spenders of our money is a small victory and gives us the opportunity to say I told you so. These three Ministers - more than any others - pushed that agenda against all those who pointed out the many flaws of this huge expensive plan which does nothing for Saskatchewan in the long term.

We all know how important it is to chose the right words when communicating a problem to other people. Often times in the English language, a new word comes along and defines something that has been a problem but couldn't be explained easily. This spring you have heard a lot of people and especially Brad Wall talking about "transformational change". The word transformational, in the minds of most people, is talking about a fundamental shift or a total reconstruct of whatever item is being referred to.

During the last provincial election campaign, the PC Party talked about and campaigned on just such a thing in our health care system. We made a very strong argument that the health region structure imposed upon Saskatchewan's health care by an NDP government over 20 years ago has not worked out. We have a large bureaucratic, unaccountable and expensive system of health care delivery which we cannot afford and which does not provide the necessary services. We said it should go and Saskatchewan health care should be returned to a system where health dollars are accounted for in the Legislative Assembly and there is a system of accountability flowing from that change through all levels of health care delivery.

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