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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

Our political system was designed to attract individuals who cared about the state of society and also were prepared to take on the responsibility of managing the public's resources. It has checks and balances put in place so that there is credible opportunity for constructive criticism. That's why we have unrestricted free speech in our legislatures and the ability for municipal government to go in camera.

It seems today that politics is attracting more individuals who like to rant about their single issues and share them with the whole world through social media. It also seems to be attracting individuals who simply like to show-boat on social media by using inflammatory language. Come election time, however, all that you have said and perhaps shown over a good part of your life is all of a sudden fodder for the political grist mill.

It appears from news reports that our Minister of the Economy, Bill Boyd, has finally discovered something he is good at. He has taken the government plane to his home at Eston, Saskatchewan 279 times in the last four years. He couldn't manage smart meters at SaskPower, he can't manage the C02 project at Boundary Dam and he can't manage taxpayers' money at the GTH outside of Regina but he sure can book air flights at the taxpayer's expense. There is nothing like being able to book the taxpayer's plane, fly home, check out the 30,000 acre farming operation and then turnaround and fly back to Regina - all on our dime. It's no wonder Wall is hiding him from the media and the public.

On the weekend, I had the privilege of being invited to and to speak at a Leader's debate on rural health care held in Craik, Saskatchewan. All the Leaders showed up except the Premier who sent his deputy dog rural health minister instead. I have never figured out why the Sask Party government needs two health ministers - a senior one and a junior one but I guess when you have that many backbenchers - you have to find something for them to do.

Sometimes when I'm putting out Party policies or coming up with alternatives that I think will better serve taxpayers, you wonder if anyone in government is listening. It takes a lot of doing to turn around the ship of state when they are simply bulldozing ahead on ideology and their own agenda.

Last Thursday, I held an outdoor news conference in the middle of the construction work on the eastern portion of the south Regina bypass. One of the many landowners in that area who is being driven out of his home and have his life totally disrupted was kind enough to offer his property. His home will be bulldozed later this week. He has not agreed to the financial settlement offered by the government.

This past week, the PC Party unveiled the first of its major policy platforms for the upcoming election. I think we kind of took everyone by surprise. When you think about it, however, our policy on waste heat utilization in Saskatchewan just makes sense.

We are all well aware of the rising cost of putting food on the table on a daily basis. Our weekly trips to the grocery store have shown a fairly dramatic cost increase to things like fresh fruit and vegetables. Last week I saw a report on TV that showed that some vegetables have more than doubled in price in the last 12 months. There are many reasons for this but the two primary ones are the drop in the value of the Canadian dollar versus the American dollar and the drought which has been gripping California and the US southwest for many years now. The supplies of irrigation water in this region have fallen dramatically and in fact may never recover to former levels. This is the area where most of our fresh vegetables and some fruits originate from.

I hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend. I wouldn't normally be putting this out until tomorrow because of the holiday but I am off to Lintlaw, Saskatchewan for the Kelvington-Wadena PC nomination later today. Lintlaw is about a four and a half hour drive for me so hopefully the wind and the snow hold off long enough to enjoy the drive.

One of the things that I most enjoy about election campaigns is getting the chance to drive around Saskatchewan and really get a feeling for what is going on out there. I try to take as many different roads as possible including getting off of the pavement and cutting across country on some of our grid road system. I think more of Mr. Wall's cabinet should be doing the same thing.

Many of the public are well aware that I and the PC Party have been very critical of the Sask Party government's south Regina bypass project. This project has gone from a $400 million dollar expenditure to now being about $2 billion with further costs to come. This project has been out-sourced to a French company with a guaranteed $680 million profit built into it.

You also know that the PC Party has proposed an alternative northern bypass route which would save taxpayers an estimated $1 billion and do a better job. We have run extensive radio and television advertising campaigns to point this out.

What a gorgeous weekend for the last week of January! I actually took a few hours off after church yesterday and went ice fishing on Buffalo Pound Lake with an old fishing buddy. The surface of the lake this time of the year looks like a good sized town with all of the ice fishing shacks and vehicles that appear before you as you come over the crest of the hill as you are going down to the lake. Obviously, other people had the same idea and for all of you that keep track of these things, we caught our limit of yellow perch and one walleye and told lots of stories about fishing trips past.

The new Federal Liberal government released its new rules on pipeline development in Canada this past week. The various Ministers involved with the unrolling of this new set of rules said they have clarified the process by which pipelines can be built in Canada. I hope they are right but my first glance at the new regulations says we have two new unknowns.

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