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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

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.

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.

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