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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

It's hard to believe that a modern Canadian city of over 90,000 people could be totally devastated by a forest fire. You would think with all of our technology and the resources that we could bring to bear as a society would prevent something like that from happening. When you live in the middle of a tinder-dry forest and the right conditions line up, it doesn't matter how big or how modern you are, Mother Nature can still have her way with you. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those people, their families and their way of living which has been dramatically changed for months and years to come in the Fort McMurray area.

A lot of people have various symbols and signs that indicate to them when spring has finally arrived. They look for these things on a yearly basis. If you are from rural Saskatchewan, one of those signs is the first outfit you see in a field actually seeding. As Joanne and I were driving to Regina yesterday for a family supper, I couldn't help but noticing the air drills busy putting the crop in and each one creating its own cloud of dust. It's very early and already people are commenting on the lack of moisture but one thing is for sure....we have never lost a crop in April. My Grandfather had a saying "seed in the dust and your bins will bust"..."seed in the rain and you seed in vain". I guess we will see how 2016 turns out.

It's that time of the year again when the unexpected seems to happen as a matter of course when you are trying to plan things like Monday Morning Commentary. Calving is going along with the usual mixture of pluses and minuses. A set of twins last weekend which makes for some extra work and then Monday morning, one of our cows managed to drown her newborn calf in 8" of water.

I've learned over the years that you can never predict what a cow will do when she decides to calve. In my younger days, I used to get really upset about it and blame myself for not being a good stockman but there is no point in that. Sometimes it's just like politics....you can't take it personally and then you have to move on. I have to admit though that when I was dragging the dead calf out of the mud there were a few unkind comments made about that particular cow.

After a long and gruelling spring election campaign, it was really nice to be able to go and decompress for a while. I don't think I have ever been as tired both mentally and physically after a campaign as I was after this one. It was definitely a sign of age and the pace that election campaigns now demand with the ever-increasing amounts of media and social media.

For political parties to be competitive, both of these facts are an essential part of election planning and they do demand more resources both financially and on the human side. The PC Party will definitely need to keep these things in mind as it continues to build for the future and the next election campaign.

When you go into election planning mode which the PC Party has been doing since January, you try and define where you want to be in the minds of the voter and where you want to come out of the process. Sometimes those two things diverge at a given point and you can move forward on that plane or sometimes they don't. I think all the political parties in Saskatchewan except the governing Sask Party have found disappointment in how their plans did not come together.

My congratulations to Brad Wall, Premier Elect, and the Sask Party for once again running a good political campaign. They obviously have the money and the human resources to hammer home their message and then deliver at the doorstep. It is extremely difficult to go up against that type of political machine without a strong ground game in place.

Two events last week that I participated in and what a difference in what voters and taxpayers got out of it. Last Wednesday was the so-called "televised Leader's Debate". First of all, it wasn't a Leader's debate because three out of the five party leaders weren't invited. Second of all, it wasn't a debate - it was a shouting match.

Hardly anything of substance could be heard or understood when Brad Wall and Cam Broten were standing face-to-face yelling at each other. This format was obviously designed by the media consortium and they should be ashamed of themselves for asking Saskatchewan voters to watch this process for an hour.

I thought what I would do this morning is a little bit of a report from the campaign trail. It will be a mix of events I was at and some observations on the thoughts of people that I have met.

My first observation is that both the Sask Party and the NDP are not really focused on long-term job growth and in fact, very little short-term growth that doesn't involve begging from our sunny-ways Prime Minister. I've always thought that Saskatchewan has the ability to come up with our own solutions because of the ingenuity of the people that live here. When people needed a new type of seeding tool, Saskatchewan thought up the air seeder and made an industry of it.

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