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Monday Morning Commentary

Rick Swenson

I trust that those of you that had the time enjoyed Canada Day celebrations in your community. Unfortunately the weather across Saskatchewan wasn't terribly cooperative but I know many events went off without a hitch. As I said last week, we have much to celebrate in this country and should never take our freedom and privileges as a society for granted. To those of you who have family and friends south of the border, happy July 4th!

Unfortunately taking things for granted has become a hallmark of our Sask Party government. A prime example of this is the release of the Provincial Auditor's special report on the land purchases around the Global Transportation Hub. This report was released last Thursday on the last sitting day of the spring session of the Legislature. It was also the last news day before a long weekend. Coincidence? I think not.

The wrong-headed policies of the European Economic Community are coming home to roost. The EEC was set up as a way to rebuild western Europe after the devastation of the Second World War. It was also a way for these countries to work together to stave off the advance of Communism coming out of Stalinist Russia.

By allowing access to each other's markets, keeping personal income tax low and using the VAT (value added taxes), western Europe rebuilt itself and Germany in particular became an economic powerhouse. This successful program has expanded to include all of western Europe.

The problems started when they created a vast bureaucracy and started to usurp the democratic rights and traditions of member states. The issues of foreign workers, unrestricted immigration between member states and in the last few years the waves of political refugees have put huge strains on the system that was not designed for the social economic side of what was essentially an economic model. By allowing conflicts like the Syrian civil war to go on for years and years, the world has created a mess which may destroy the successes of the European community.

How can you tell when desperation starts to set into a government? They start to circle the wagons and point fingers at everyone and everything around them. Elected officials do not want to take responsibility for their actions and they start to dream up "quick fix" schemes to get out of the jackpot they themselves have created.

The actions of the Sask Party government over the last week when it comes to educating our children is in my view the signs of a desperate government. This is the same Sask Party government that finally negotiated a contract with teachers after two failed negotiations and knew they didn't have the money to pay the contract.

Once again, the horror of a mass shooting in the United States has been front and centre in the news this past weekend. It appears that up to 50 individuals are dead and over 50 more were wounded by a lone gunman who walked into a nightclub in Orlando, Florida with an assault rifle. The fact that the shooter was Muslim and professing his admiration for Muslim extremist groups does not bode well for that sector of North American society.

There are two parts of this that I wish to comment on this morning. This should not get diverted by the age-old American argument of the right to bear arms. No one in civil society today needs an assault rifle. For a ten year period of time, these things were banned in US society and that should be back on. I am as avid an outdoorsman and hunter as anyone and probably own more firearms than one person really needs to. I can guarantee you there is not and never will be such a weapon in my gun cabinet because there simply is no need for that type of weapon by any individual in a society with the rule of law. We have that rule of law in North America.

In the last week, there has been a lot of water flowing under the proverbial political bridge. Last week, a half dozen PC Party candidates and staff took in the provincial budget which was supposed to be a transformational one for Saskatchewan. In the weeks leading up to the budget, the Sask Party government and particularly its Premier, had been leading people to believe that they were going to quit driving Saskatchewan into debt and were finally going to curb their spending habits on foolish projects. Talk about a let down!

Many of you would have noticed the news event from last week where people from the Preeceville area showed up at the Legislature to protest the downgrading of their medical facility. This is happening because of the ongoing doctor shortage in that community and the inability of that health region to recruit and retain doctors.

This is a story that will repeat itself across much of Saskatchewan in the months and years to come. It speaks to the wrong-headed approach of medical professional recruitment carried out under the health region system. I was reminded of this by a recent letter to the editor submitted by Dr. Lewis Draper, a former long-serving physician from rural Saskatchewan, who also served in the Legislature for the riding of Assiniboia-Gravelbourg.

This past week, the Sask Party government announced that they are doing an evaluation of SaskTel. This sudden interest in the value of SaskTel is supposedly brought about by the recent sale of MTS (Manitoba's telco) to Bell Canada.

This would leave SaskTel as the only provincially-run telecom company in Canada. The government would like us to believe that this may make SaskTel uncompetitive down the road. It will be interesting to see if this evaluation is made public in all of its facets and if all parts of SaskTel are on the potential sale block.

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