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When the human mind ceases to function and remember…

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Whenever I hear a student claiming “school” is a waste of time, I usually respond by reminding them that life itself is a continuous, never-ending learning process, so get used to it, because not everything you’re going to learn you’re going to like. Unfortunately for all of us, whenever it comes to a conflict in the Middle East between Israel or any number of terrorist organizations, we have these “counter” organizations on both sides once again demonstrating that they’ve “learned” nothing new about how to finally resolve this fanatically funded problem hindering world peace.

On Oct. 7, Hamas militants committed to wiping Israel off the map staged a violent attack on southern Israel, butchered over 1,200 Israeli men, women and children, took another 250 or so hostages, then under cover of thousands of rockets sought shelter and protection in an elaborate tunnel network under Gaza that Hamas had created since their election “victory” in 2006. Almost immediately, Israeli PM Netanyahu brought out his checklist he keeps handy for just such “emergencies”: IDF reserve troops are called into action (Check); the Defense Minister places a standing order for U.S. armaments (Check); “Bibi” lays down a guilt trip on the United States for immediate “help” beyond mere armament supply (Double Check). 

Were it not for the sickening horror of viewing scenes from the initial massacre in the south, Netanyahu’s “standard procedures” routine could almost be perceived as dark comedy. I am a serious fan of historical drama, and can recall watching a 2015 episode of “The Brink” (an HBO drama/comedy starring Tim Robbins and Jack Black), wherein the writers of its plotline explained the “rationale” behind Netanyahu’s immediate reaction to call President Biden. In a scene from the first episode that was to be the start of the drama’s second season, a bemused Israeli official is going over the reasons with U.S. Secretary of State Walter Larson (played by Robbins) as to “why” the U.S.A. is so quick to come to the aid of Israel in time of crisis. 

We all know the reason; we just won’t state it out loud: America’s Christian “evangelicals” (upon whose support every American presidential hopefully receives) expect the Second Coming to occur shortly – AND in Israel; therefore, the United States is “obligated” to this sect of Christianity to assure that Israel still exists when that holy event occurs. 

Now, if you STILL don’t believe that America’s political entities wanted this reality to remain secret, here’s the “closer”: Within hours of that episode’s airing, HBO cancelled the show’s Season Two.

We have to start seeing these Middle East flare-ups for what they truly are: three world religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – each allegedly worshipping the SAME “God” locking themselves into a genocidal battle to obtain the one thing political aspirants most desire – total power. 

When this condition prevails, knowledge becomes sacrificed to the ritual of “taking sides” and engaging in actions seen only as some “sacrifice” almost worthy of martyrdom in their instigation, and so they react – both violently and stupidly, of course, by taking out their “frustrations” upon the innocent who practice their faith in Canadian synagogues or mosques by using spray paint, sledge hammers or bullets to express their “opinion”, or, as what happened when our right-wing disinformation specialists (FOX News) kept insisting that the “Communist” Chinese government had loosed the Covid-19 virus upon humanity, instead of being personally attacked because you “look Oriental”, you are targeted for confrontation because you forgot to take off your kippah before leaving home or still wore your hijab when you went grocery shopping. 

Thanks to this predictably violent reaction to such crises, our politicians walk around in a fog, trying to maintain voter “peace” while not isolating one side of the conflict from the other, yet always managing to fail in their efforts. Justin Trudeau may be perceived as someone merely parroting the lines President Biden might utter (initially, no support for a ceasefire or exchange of hostages, for fear Hamas might use that time to regroup its forces), but his inner self is screaming for such action to actually occur. On the other hand, our alleged “Prime Minister in Waiting”, Pierre Poilievre, isn’t above “hinting” that a blast on Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge structure was a “terrorist” attack, not someone driving a luxury car into a border security structure, simply because that’s what FOX News reported – and, after all, since Conservatives believe that they have the “evangelical” vote in their back pocket, what better way to tell this block of voters that the sky is falling and beware the Muslim hordes about to overthrow democracy in Canada. 

We have to stop relying upon social media and right-wing disinformation specialists to “tell” us what is happening “over there”. Most of this crew of misfits “haven’t a clue”, if you’ll pardon the grammatical oxymoron.

Consider, for instance, FOX News replacement of talking head Tucker Carlson, Jesse Watters, who maintain that “ALL Palestinians” are responsible for the atrocities inflicted upon the initial 1,200 Jewish settlers in the south – because they “voted for a Hamas government in 2006.” Really? Are Gaza refugees, 50% of whom were children in 2006 and haven’t been able to vote for change since then, responsible for today’s chaos – and the WORST part about Watters’ nattering is that Hamas barely had a plurality in that election, and only won because Hamas played a dangerous game of “The Scorpion and the Frog”, offering to pursue and maintain “hope” of finding a “peaceful resolution” to “the Palestinian Question”, all the while planning for its demise, knowing that their Opposition, Yassar Arafat’s Fatah, was infested with corrupt politicians that Gaze residents wanted to be rid of.

Now, and despite Netanyahu’s objection to such a pathway to be followed, Israel and Hamas are temporarily working through a ceasefire agreement so as to exchange hostages and provide Gazans with much-needed aid. We know that Biden is hoping to count to “10” the number of days that ceasefire will actually last, and which in the mind of U.S. strategists could signal the knock-out count to end this conflict and get back to the negotiating table. However, what will happen should that period of peace be shattered by a new outbreak of violence?

At the start of this conflict, Netanyahu indicated that the ultimate goal of IDF forces in retaliating against the violence was to obliterate Hamas once and for all. Were this event to have happened in 1967, Israeli commanders would already have had troops directly attacking Hamas forces directly in the tunnel network; instead, all the random air strikes trying to “soften up” Hamas resistance have created is a 14,000-person “collateral damage” that has horrified even a majority of persons supporting Israel itself – and STILL its military commanders have not provided any idea as to how their goal of wiping out Hamas is ever going to happen.

The outpouring of anger over the slaughter of so many innocents and the traumas through which the 250 or more hostages and their families have gone through has produced a response no spokesperson for Hamas could have expected – world-wide massive demonstrations of Palestinian refugees and Israeli citizens calling for the creation of a Palestinian state and an end to this issue once and for all. For his part, Netanyahu is no fanboy of this ever happening, and even once portrayed former PM Yitzhak Rabin as a Nazi for even negotiating with Arafat’s PLO to make this happen. When an Israeli religious fanatic eventually assassinated Rabin, his wife blamed Netanyahu for his death. 

Right now, it seems reasonable to assume that Netanyahu is listening to Biden’s “count to 10” and realizing that his reign as PM is probably over. Even prior to this war breaking out, over 76 per cent of voters already wanted him “gone” from Israeli politics.

Netanyahu won the last election by agreeing to form a coalition with some of the most extreme parties in the Knesset. His two most powerful Cabinet members, Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich and National Defense Minister Itimar Ben-Gvir revel in their extremist views. Smotrich’s “solution” to the continuous eruptions of violence is to have all of Gaza’s population “voluntarily migrate”, then expand the creation of religious “settlements”, already a violation by Israel of international law. Not to be outshone, Ben-Gvir’s extensive criminal record includes having been convicted of supporting a terrorist organization and incitement to racism. Were there to be an election held tomorrow, Netanyahu’s Likud would lose at least 11 seats and the two ministers’ parties fail to reach the 3.5 per cent in voter popularity to even hold one seat in the Knesset.

Should Biden win this battle and peace talks aimed at creating a Palestinian state begin in earnest, this will not sit well with a Republican-controlled Congress teetering on the brink of insanity and still supporting Donald Trump in 2024, as America’s well-funded Christian “right” may see such a resolution to be in their best interests. What we will see, however, is Hamas voices growing silent as new Gaza leaders stress the need for aid, compassion and peace to prevail.

Should this all occur, we can therefore look forward to a Middle East voice where Bassam Aramin, a Palestinian academic and Israeli graphics designer Rami Elhanan, each having lost a daughter to conflict, help to flesh out the argument that what you are in a spiritual state can only be appreciated if the creation of that self-image results in the betterment of mankind.

My personal opinion notwithstanding, I will not be the least bit surprised when Aramin, Elhanan and President Biden win Nobel Peace prizes in 2024.

WHAT, pray tell, is Take Back Alberta trying to take back?

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In one of my increasingly growing number of cynical moments, I was contemplating when the Saskatchewan  United Party would release its next list of irrelevant “issues” that would rile the good folk of Saskatchewan into a frenzy such as did set wildfires to burn in Lumsden Morse on Aug. 10.

I was almost willing to bet on their following their anti-LGBTQ theme by demanding that the provincial government refuse to allow any confectionary within a two-kilometer radius of a school to sell Chips Ahoy “Rainbow” cookies.

Don’t laugh, because a similar incident occurred in June of 2012 when Kraft Foods (manufacturers of Chips Ahoy) first ran an ad illustrating a seven-layer rainbow Oreo cookie to celebrate LGBT Pride month. Although the cookie was a fictional product (Too difficult to dunk in a glass of milk?), within mere hours following the ad’s publication a Facebook page appeared demanding a consumer boycott of the non-existent product, then later changing the context of the page to recommend that the boycott extend to the entire list of Kraft food products – simply because the company had dared to acknowledge the existence of a large “gay” community in the United States.

In today’s world, the creator of that Facebook page would  probably be elevated to the NHL Board of Governors. Now maybe that comment is a tad “cheesy”, but given the cash-strapped conditions of our current university attendees, were that same boycott option to reappear today how many Millennial-aged students would be willing to forsake their survival supply of twice-a-day Kraft Dinner meals to support the cause?

Here’s my point; ten years ago Canadian pundits chuckled about that page, and Canada would now have a few more internationally renowned comedians in Hollywood who make their living by highlighting stupidities American right-wingers adopt into their political agenda. NOW, however, we’re becoming overrun by malcontents, disinformation specialists, economic know-nothings, scientific illiterates and mirror gazers (“Karens”), who have all decided to evacuate their bat caves to form actual “political” entities supporting such stupidities. How else can you best describe the creation of absurdities such as Nadine Wilson’s Saskatchewan United Party and Alberta’s United Conservative Party, temporarily led by Danielle Smith.

The only difference between Wilson and Smith is that Smith creates her own political agenda, which Wilson AND Premier Moe both feel free to plagiarize. The problem is, after the UCP’s November 4th annual weekend convention, Ms. Smith’s tenure as premier is now being threatened from within by Take Back Alberta, the creation of reactionary nobody David Parker, who already has had too many “Andy Warhol moments” on the Alberta political stage.

Parker can best be described as “a serious piece of work”. Once a staunch supporter of Smith’s predecessor Jason Kenney, that marriage ended the moment Kenney imposed a mandate for restrictions in social movement due to then disturbing increases in Covid-19 infections paralyzing the health care system. When Alberta Health Care recommended that people might wish to consider going back to wearing masks in October following a similar outbreak of Covid cases, Parker merely echoed University of Calgary’s scientific illiterate PoliSci professor Barry Cooper, claiming even N95 masks don’t work, while maintaining that such a recommendation “again show[ed] that a hostile and communist ideology has taken over our health-care system and is defying the democratic will of the people.”

Parker’s “realities” foresee an Alberta wherein “women ought to be at home having babies, not spending their days working [within a ‘stressful’ environment’]”. Equally “sagacious”, his opinion to “eradicate gender ideology” from schools is nothing more than a backhanded endorsement of Saskatchewan’s Bill 137, the inappropriately named “Parents’ Bill of Rights”. As to his opinion on climate change and global warming, he again takes a position supporting Cooper’s claim that those who “choose” to advance the seriousness of this global concern are nothing more than cultists.

In its November 6th publication (https://thetyee.ca/Archive/weekly/, “The Tyee” contributors Graham Thomson and David Climenhaga literally did “freak-out” pieces over the range of resolutions that the TBA managed to have passed at the UCP convention. These include such “beauties” as the need to “eradicate diversity and inclusion offices at post-secondary institutions”, refuse to place trans women in women’s prisons (as if the male sexual response mechanism would work after months of taking hormone blockers),”defend the rights of those who chose not to be vaccinated,” “enshrining the right to bear arms”, opposing federal net-zero policies, banning ‘15-minute cities’ (the idea that virtually all amenities and employment opportunities within newer cities can be reached in under 15 minutes, thus allowing for greater population densities combined with less expenditures in infrastructure); banning solar farms, defunding supervised consumption sites, “letting parents censor school libraries;” and “allowing professionals to break ethics rules when they’re not on the clock” (i.e.: allow quack medical practitioners to tout their opinions and products without any scientific substantiation).

Quite naturally, Climenhaga concludes that the TBA would be laying waste to Premier Smith’s hopes of bringing fresh ideas for expanding Alberta’s economic clout by encouraging immigration and investment by these “new Canadians”. Citing political science professor Lisa Young (ironically, a colleague of Barry Cooper), he suggests that “new citizens…aren’t likely to vote for the UCP or anything like it if it advocates what Young calls ‘a heaping side dish of racism and discrimination’” – implying, quite naturally that immigrants that had previously considered settling in Alberta might now even have second thoughts after the province adopts these repressive measures through legislative action.

It is worth noting that even the most extreme of columnists know full well that Parker intends to utilize the TBA’s coup d’état of the UPC to force the party to implement most, if not all of the recommendations passed at convention, or the party, now controlled by TBA, would push her out of her leadership role. This may be good news for Alberta’s NDP, but ONLY if the media does not portray her ouster from leadership as her becoming a martyr to the cause of economic sagacity – a complete reversal of her current image, and a picture that should make even what’s left of Canada’s “traditional conservatives” double over in laughter.

What is certain, however, is that Parker’s binary sister, Nadine Wilson, will incorporate most of the TBA’s resolutions into SUP party’s 2024 platform; this in turn means that Premier Moe will also follow the TBA pathway so as to avoid further hemorrhage of his party base transferring their loyalty and vote to the Uniteds.

It should be obvious by now that the extreme right has no solution to offer the majority of voters who are sickeningly worried about the increasing cost of living, losing their home due to mortgage rate fluctuation, home heating costs or even “climate change” and global warming.

So here’s my question to readership: Do you find that the lack of attention paid to concerns of Saskatchewan’s voters by both the SUP and SP “FUNNY” – or worth their being ridiculed?

Why ‘Fixing the Past’ poses a danger for mankind’s future

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As a person who honestly believes in the tenets of “progressiveness” expressed by those who consider themselves forward thinking in their political beliefs, while holding an abiding affection for our country, nothing gets more in our way of trying to promote our ideas than some individual pointing to our history and proclaiming that out thought process is “impure”. In effect they are saying to us, before we can improve our status as a nation or as individuals, we have to first recognize, then correct the errors made by these past generations.

Marxists refer to the papering over of our past excesses as “revisionism”; the “average” individual, however, annoyed at seeing statues of Sir John A. being torn down or feeling “guilty” for harbouring anti-sentiments towards readily identified boundaries that prevent social interaction – whether based upon religion, race or sexual identification –  and not really wanting to rationalize their own feelings on such matters, call it something else – wokeism.

The idea of being “woke” is that someone has obtained both new and useful information respecting the viewing of the human condition; in other words, they are “wiser” for having gained such knowledge. The problem is, most people want to believe that they have “moved on”, and now have a better “understanding” of such issues, often by concluding that things really are “getting better”, even though they really aren’t. 

A classic example of overestimating the progress of societal evolution in general, many Americans were convinced that given the election of a black man to the presidency in Barack Obama, they had forever vanquished the stigma of racism that had overwhelmed their nation since its inception in 1776. In Canada, our national “guilts” do not carry with them the same tone of bitterness, but racism in its purest form is indeed a disease carried by many, whether it’s expressed by the feelings of north-end Haligonians towards their black neighbours in Preston, the disgust felt by Indigenous peoples towards their not being accepted as the founding peoples of this nation, or the confirmed “citizen” having attained the privilege of being called a “Canadian” now seeing an immigrant population forced from their own worlds by conflict now seeking the privileges of citizenry without having to go through the conflicts of survival as did those who emigrated from Europe during the Bolshevik Revolution or Hitler’s genocidal tactics used against minorities. 

In a recent Washington Post article, Yuval Noah Harari, a Jewish historian, attempted to redefine the excesses of wokeism in other terms, by it merely being a derivation of an “unconditional adherence to heavenly standards of purity and justice.” Taken to its extreme, for instance, during the American Civil War, as “peace always involves compromises on what people consider justice, peace must be rejected, and absolute justice must be pursued at any cost” would simply mean that until everyone got it through their thick skulls that racism as personified in slavery and physical or mental debasement was no longer to be tolerated, the war should not have ended as it did.

The Israeli-Hamas “conflict” that is once again exposing the world to “the next phase” of a Middle East struggle for survival is just another skirmish that temporarily sidetracks our attention from the low levels of attack against progressive thought that our right-wing “originalists” seem to believe should dominate our every thought. In their expression of Christian extremism, they demand that all (i.e: the United Nations General Assembly) must “stand beside Israel” against the brutality of a Hamas invasion that slaughtered over 1,400 Israelis. In effect, it is their expression in supporting the concepts of “absolute” justice, a “winner take all” resolution to the conflicts that have torn apart that segment of the world for almost 2,000 years. 

Pragmatists, however, find such support increasingly hypocritical. In describing the need for the American people to support both Israel and Ukraine, President Biden has taken to describe both as being “democratic states” seeking to be overrun by dictatorial fiat. An increasing number of U.S External Affairs experts, however, see this as a fatuous premise and resigning in frustration. They openly question Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s commitment to democracy, as he is still seeking to elevate the role of government to subvert the role of the courts, due to his own possibility of being jailed for corruption at some future date. 

What is equally provoking this minor mutiny in External Affairs is that despite President Biden having already met with Premier Netanyahu, he does not appear to have placed any “restraint” upon Israel in how to fight Hamas forces now impregnated in the Gaza Strip by its limiting of arms sales to the regime, even as it continues to prepare for a land invasion. More to the point, it has advised the non-combatants of Gaza to evacuate the region, while providing no direct pathway to allow such a retreat to take place or aid to enter the region, in effect pretty much guaranteeing that thousands of Palestinians in no way, shape or form supporting Hamas or the now emboldened terrorist groups digging in with Hamas will be slaughtered, many in the way that over 500 mostly women and children met their deaths by the bombing of a hospital in which they took refuge, and where both Israeli and its combatants refuse to acknowledge their turpitude or involvement in this sickening affair.

No one is denying Israel the “right” to defend itself, least of all the Palestinian innocents who are effectively saying, “Have at it; just let us get the Hell out of the way first.” As for the rest of the “players” wanting to play a part in this hellacious affair, Iran’s threat to “allow” its other funded minions to enter the fray have other analysts worrying that were that to happen, Israel may resort to utilization of its nuclear weaponry in retaliation. 

Professor Harari has other concerns, not the least of which is whether the Israeli government has even thought about what to do next once their Gaza “invasion” has succeeded in its purpose and despite the potential for mass slaughter. For the past decade he has watched as Netanyahu has “abandoned all serious attempts to make peace with more moderate Palestinian forces, adopted an increasingly hawkish policy regarding the occupation of disputed territory and even embraced the right-wing messianic ideas of Jewish supremacy.”

There is no question that the original intend of Hamas to attack in such ferocious fashion was “to sow seeds of hatred” in both Israel and the Muslim world. A possible peace accord ultimately leading to the creation of an independent Palestinian state, however, is the only solution that would finally rid the world of the issues of hate continuing to bury the Middle East in conflict.

Former general and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan, commenting upon the turmoil that resulted from the United Nations creating a Jewish state in the middle of once was Palestine, suggested that Israelis “not be afraid to see the hatred that consumes the lives of hundreds of thousands of Arabs who sit around us and wait for the moment when their hands will be able to reach our blood.”

His solution was to seek peace with those whom Israelis currently see as their enemy. That sentiment, it seems, still hasn’t appeared to have sunk into the thoughts of Prime Minister Netanyahu, and as long as the United States government continue to fail at the showing of leadership in this battle, we can only hope saner heads will prevail upon the temporary resolution of this conflict. That’s not “wokeness”; it’s an expression of realism and hope.

Moe’s ‘leadership’ style becoming uglier to watch

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Were I a “Commie, socialist, left-leaning Democrat leading the world towards a WEF-regulated economic disaster” and it was a Tuesday in Washington, DC at about 11:15 AM, would be getting a few of the “boys” (no offense to my “queer” friends) together for lunch at Pedophile Pizza, a 12 minute walk from the Senate, where today’s menu will feature a five-topper featuring Paneer water buffalo cheese-stuffed gluten-free crust, diced green onions, finely chopped Trinidad Moruga scorpion peppers, Kamsack Screech-marinated Prairie oysters, segmented strips of freshly smoked wild boar bacon, and topped with delicately braised ground aborted fetus.

AND IF the featured drink of the day is their “Caesarian Special”, served in their standard half-liter sea salted mug, an 8-to-1 measuring of Leon Verres and Lucky Bastard Dill Pickle vodkas blended with the fresh blood freshly sterilized at their inhouse Botox/Abortion clinic, then sprinkled with ground black pepper and celery seed, and garnished with Giant Red celery.

OK, now; here’s the “problem”…

Without this “May I have your attention, please” moment inserted at this point, less than half of this readership would have just read over at least the first paragraph and not have the faintest inkling that IF they wanted to call themselves “informed Canadians”, their “What the Hell!” moment just occurred about 15 seconds ago.

The “literary narrative” that I was attempting to “describe” took its roots from the extreme right conspiracy theorist Q’Anon, who in the U.S. 2016 presidential race maintained that Democrats were nothing more than “pedophile groomers” who frequented a Washington pizza joint where they drank copious quantities of aborted baby’s blood, usually without the alcoholic content. There were American voters who believed this sickening rumour, including 28-year-old Eddgar Madison, who received four years for walking into the Comet Ping Pong in December of 2016 waving a rifle, looking for the abortion “mill” providing patrons with their favourite non-alcoholic brew.

Closer to home, the voice of Q’Anon now is speaking loudly in Saskatchewan. Our premier Scott Moe, desperately wanting to shore up his crumbling government’s popularity, is now determined to enshrine “parental rights” into the Canadian Constitution, if necessary by the utilization of our moronic “notwithstanding” clause. If Saskatchewan voters can’t get their minds around the fact that the premier’s motivation to make this such a “big deal” is that he’s both trying to steal Nadine Wilson’s thunder while trying to keep hidden his obvious disgust with LGBTQ issues having gained so much relevance and meaning in such a short time, you haven’t been paying enough attention to the matter, have you.

I have NEVER been so humiliated as a citizen in this province as seeing so many child adults whose parents obviously never had that “birds and bees” conversation with their own parents. What have we learned from investigating the reason for Scott Moe’s crusade to the insane side of reality, now that it’s boiling down to a crusade targeting trans and gay/lesbian kids and being denied a “right” to be described by the usage of their “preferred pronouns”? And “grooming teachers” are to blame for ALL of this, when all that I can recall of over 30 years at the front of a classroom was how pathetically children’s emotional concerns were addressed in schools? 

As a TEACHER, Mr. Moe, I don’t refer to students by pronouns; I call them by their NAME! And just in case you “forgot” some of the many word descriptors taught to you in school, a “name” is a NOUN!

What’s triggered this stupidity being taken by our provincial government. NINE letters from parents – NINE – that’s it. Who are these “parents”? Who knows, and who really cares – except that perhaps this pontification of governmental stupidity is a result of the lobbying intent of a group called the “Home School Legal Defence Association” only too willing to assure the world that parents can “home school” their kids.

The bottom line here is that we now have a group of fanatical adults who were given a PRIVILEGE to bring new life to Earth suddenly now thinking that some “divine” right has been endowed to us by a God who sees NO contradiction in seeing these SAME people not feeding their kids, failing to teach them anything, beating them, selling them – whatever, just so they can have “control” over another human beating. That’s NOT the “God” I was brought up to believe in…

Look at the stupidity of events unfolding that have created this scenario. Grade 9 kids in Lumsden suddenly had access to a dictionary of sex terminology on a set of playing cards and the kids knew more of the meanings to these words than their parents did? Allowing extremist “right to life” adherents to denigrate the efforts of Planned Parenthood in their struggle to find child abuse – the SAME freaks who’ll weep over a loss of a “potential” life but have no problem buying guns to go out and shoot “Indigenous” criminals and other “less valuable” life forms? 

Former Minister of Education Dustin Duncan made the right decision to have a public discussion as to what went “wrong” in Lumsden last June later in the school year; instead, Moe threw him under the bus because of him showing consideration for others disturbed by how odious gut reactions could turn in this province in which our vaunted representatives, and especially Nadine Wilson could throw gasoline onto the hate fires these clowns have continued to build for the last 15 years.

You want to know how to FIX this issue? DEFINE the extent of policy to which schools must adhere when dealing with a conflict between the will of a child and the concern of the parent – AND if there is ANYTHING that reeks of violence or abuse of the child by this concerned parent, including past behaviour, DENY such a right to this parent save through well-supervised mediation.

End of story… Oh, sorry; I forgot that the provincial government had the inside track on family abuse issues, and according to Moe, you can’t take away “rights” – THAT’s why this issue is only about privilege and control of vulnerable human beings.

Beatles’ ‘Getting Better’ taking on new meaning in province

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Last week I noted that there may even be a “contested” nomination in the Rosthern – Shellbrook riding for someone in the NDP to run against temporary premier Scott Moe, and promised to bring further word of such a development into this week’s discussion. I’m not going to do that, though, NOT because this isn’t true, but on having been advised that there may be even more people considering running, including at least one male candidate hailing from the Shellbrook component of the riding.

IF also true, I’d like to give them a chance to make themselves known within the constituency, while attempting to get a better “feel” as to what has finally triggered members of that riding to suddenly questioning Scott Moe’s brand of “leadership.”

Rumours of Scott Moe’s “vulnerability” began surfacing along the Highway 3 Coffee Clatch circle early in the summer, just as crop seeding was about done and producers now were having a better perspective as to how the 2021’s poor harvest had hurt profitability in 2022, with the full realization that 2023 was going to see 2021’s conditions repeated, with crop yield damages rising both in terms of less quality product and higher price, due presumably to the higher expected pay-out value of the crop itself. The problem was, by the time spring planting had been completed, farmers knew what their premiums were this year, but as the Western Producer’s regular contributor Kevin Hursh would note in his August 17 column, neither he nor his colleagues were prepared for the how these new totals were going to be calculated.

In effect, the elephant in the room here is that it doesn’t matter how producers have been paid in the past, wherein the methodology for calculation of payment was based upon your “history” of receiving payouts, much like the automobile owner, the better his/her driving record, less premium is paid if you remain a “safe driver”. Under this new system, a producer’s “40 or 50 percent experience discount” was to be replaced by the “overall claim history in their risk zone.”

In the Michael J. Fox movie “Doc Hollywood”, Woody Harrelson, who has just moved to California with girlfriend (played by Bridget Fonda) to become an insurance agent, describes the notion of selling earthquake insurance when located on the top of the San Andreas Fault as the ultimate opportunity for such agencies to declare bankruptcy and keep the profits. Here in black and white is a prime example of Harrison’s barb: an anti-consumer attitude being put into play by an insurance agent of a corrupted government’s ownership using the reality of climate change to effect dramatic restructuring of insurance rates and pay-out.

Ironically, in California major insurance companies are pulling out of the real estate market due to continuous losses caused by regular seasons of wildfires and climatic induced disasters. To stop this drain of property insurance providers, the state “reversed its position on barring insurance companies from using forward-looking catastrophe models” in order to accurately predict future prices – which is what Saskatchewan is now doing. The “difference”, however, is that the California government knows full well that we are in the middle of a period of potential weather change disaster caused by human stupidity and heavy dependence upon the utilization of petroleum products; Saskatchewan, unfortunately, is completely devoid of any meaningful leadership that has the strength to admit the same.

Thus, the party that six months ago professed to be “the sole voice of rural Saskatchewan” is now moving to shore up its membership by going on record as supporting the most reactionary of causes devised by the Karen Krew of Nadine Wilson worshipers.

Premier Moe has a lot more to worry about than a group of parents, the majority of whom couldn’t care less about what goes on in schools so long as their own children aren’t found culpable of any number of frightening bouts of bullying and harassment raining down on the “less fortunate” children in the web of needing counselling and support in their personal voyages towards grown-up status. He leads the province with the worst deaths-per-hundred-thousand Covid-19 record in Canada, his province is losing doctors, especially in our rural areas, the Emergency Department in the Shellbrook Hospital where my now-deceased friend Dr. Jack Spencer once prowled at all hours of the day and night is regularly having to be temporarily closed, schools in rural ridings currently held by a northern NDP MLA are in serious need of replacement due to asbestos contamination, the province STILL not able to come up with an answer as to where the $400 million went that the federal government gave the province to help clean up abandoned oil wells, and the $1 billion “surplus” budget introduced by Minister of Coin Donna Harpauer this summer that was going to buy our votes come October 2024 now “halved” due to “unexplained” phenomena of royalty returns based upon “expected” values of the non-renewable product (i.e.: the commodity didn’t reach the price levels the government expected them to reach, as they fell for the oil industry’s “big lie” of increasing production and increased demand)…

Oh, yes; did I forget to mention this as well – that the province is in worse fiscal shape than was the Devine government in 1991, where the deficit only reached $24 billion?

But we shouldn’t be worried about these “minor” glitches, should we?

What I find fascinating about the sudden change in feelings of voters in the Rosthern – Shellbrook riding is that a substantial portion of the questioning of his leadership is coming from the Rosthern area, home of what an American correspondent might call the “Bible Belt” of the province, with its heavily Mennonite and Hutterite-leaning populations. These are religious branches of the Christian faith that most heavily support the principles of peace and understanding that the New Testament directs us to follow, and while portraying the tenets reflective within a conscientious objector, still manage to find those willing to become soldiers for freedom through their contribution to the medical corps of our armed services.

The two women considering running for the NDP in Premier Moe’s riding may not share their constituents’ religious affiliation, but their honesty in fighting for their socially directed protection of family and those in need of their support is as strong, and their contribution to the community’s wellbeing in these directions understood by the increasing numbers who are beginning to understand their feelings on life and purpose of the political agenda that the party is now seeking to project.

If Scott Moe can’t see a fight coming for his “right” to represent this riding, he is being seriously delusional – and even if he does win that fight come October 2024, the vote differential alone will reflect more on the moral tone of his constituents than anything I could use to illustrate its contradictions.

All I’m really saying is, it doesn’t matter what your political leanings are at the moment; if you want to understand the value of commitment, you should consider coming to the nominating meeting, and then make your own decision on how to vote in the future.

Analysis: Learning how to breathe again in Saskatchewan

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When I woke up on Aug. 11, the first thing I noticed was that I was actually breathing fresh, smoke-free air. I hadn’t had that sense of life-sustaining hope enter my lungs since May 1, when Alberta Premier Danielle Smith called a provincial election, a date which heavily coincided with the outbreak of hundreds of wildfires all over the province, then quickly spreading into Saskatchewan. 

Fast forward some 110 days, and suddenly Premier Scott Moe and his Cabinet are nervously watching drought conditions in over 70 per cent of the province ignite an almost desperate militancy in the agricultural sector for the immediate need of a support program.

I don’t believe in a “coincidence” of Nature providing mankind with an almost Biblical warning of an impending threat to our existence, agriculturally speaking, but then I’ve also never been impressed with governments that “plan” their election strategies based upon the resolution of currently existing problems that would have never occurred had governments been more “forward thinking” in the past. 

Politicians in western economies laugh at the notion that mainland China brings forward economic objectives for the next 100 or more years, based upon an evolution of the economy in segments that they have analyzed as occurring over the last 1,000 years or longer; we, on the other hand, can’t even fathom something as simple as balancing the population growth that came with the post-Second World War “baby boom”. We should have been encouraging immigration, or sometime around 1980 and continuing until at least 2035 we’d have to increase health-related services to Elders to accommodate their increasingly fragile life existence. 

What solutions did Canadian politicians come up with instead? In 1989, following a nation-wide study making note of an “alarming” increase in health care costs associated with the delivery of national MediCare programs, a core of provincial premiers coming mostly from “progressive conservative” ranks determined that the provision of health care “was becoming too ‘convenient’ for potential patients”, and as a result the patients were “abusing” the system. The result – Bill C-69, the Established Programs Financing (EPF) FROZE such programs for the next three years (later, extended another two years by Bill C-20). 

We can only moan as to the result, while reflecting upon what happened next. We were immediately put in peril of individuals being able to have their own family doctor (the Mulroney cuts emphasized training more specialists as opposed to General Practitioners, further compounding today’s doctor shortage issues). Doctor funding to universities meant 180 FEWER doctors per year in Canada could attend (a 10% cut-back). Nursing and support staff were cut. Infrastructure funding took a serious hit. We (Saskatchewan) started recruiting medical practitioners from Third World nations. Doctors’ fees were capped, and hundreds more simply moved to the United States. 

Not to be outdone in our stupidity, Alberta’s Getty government recommended that health care resources be directed away from institutional care (i.e.: patients get treated at home in their declining years), while recommending private financing to increase “choice” and to introduce market mechanisms into the health care system, conditions that every study in Canada taken with regard to implementation of this system has concluded that it would only further shrink the number of physicians available to practice in public MediCare funded operations.

All of these changes, it must be noted, were initially resisted by governments because of their “perceived “negative” effect upon individuals paying more in taxes for these services, when in actuality had governments paid far more attention to the future prospects of a program encountering difficulties, re-examined ways to offset their usage, or simply phased out programs no longer of any use to the public, it would have resulted in considerable savings, relative to the monies we are currently allocating for our “immediate priorities”. 

Defining our future problems in an absence of governmental leadership

And so, IF we’re going to seriously examine just what issues were brought to the fore in the August 10th election, Question One should be to list what issues were brought forward throughout the campaign that not only could be fixed immediately and have long term positive benefits in the successful completion of that mission, while Question Two might be, “What are the ‘future’ issues we should be planning for now?

It should be noted that I originally started to write this column as an extended “feature”, by providing a breakdown of events over the 29 days preceding the recent byelections to anticipate what the future is bringing in terms of issues to address. What I saw instead was a population of special interest groups attempting to outshout their opponents in having their “concerns” become the priority in terms of dealing with their allocation of legislative time, then falling back into the pattern of encouraging hatred towards those who’d “dare” to oppose their righteous concerns. 

Confrontation no longer works; it took almost 17 days of this campaign to put their One Trick Pony resolutions back in the stable and actually started talking about even the most obvious of problems, including housing costs and affordability. What finally kicked this discussion into at least first gear was the fact that we were waking up every morning either breathing Alberta toxins or having cloud overheads deprive us of the normal sunshine that allows us to enjoy the sun’s rays irrespective of the high count of mosquitos in the air. 

What I’ve done in the following paragraphs is list a string of legislative objectives that I would like to see addressed in the next generation of government rule, irrespective of parties – although I will freely admit I have my preferences. So, here goes:

  • Based upon the decisions made by the federal government in the Mulroney era and the make-up of premiers that constituted the Provincial Council during that era, isn’t it about time that the Saskatchewan Party simply stop pretending that the Romanow era resulted in mass closure of many rural hospitals, when in reality the replacement clinics formed now provide better service to the more centralized need of health care carried on in this province?
  • Should we now be putting pressure on our railroads, CN and CP in particular, to increase track safety standards so that freight can move faster through the province, increase switch lane lengths to handle typical 200 car freight lengths while allowing for less disruption and increased travel speed on passenger rail?
  • Shouldn’t we be asking the federal government for funds to develop our own high speed rail corridors (Winnipeg – Regina – Calgary), (Minot – Regina – Saskatoon- North Battleford – Fort McMurray) and (Winnipeg – Yorkton – Saskatoon – North Battleford – Lloydminster – Edmonton) to not only enable speedier transportation corridors throughout the province, but encourage increasing numbers of immigrant populations to consider our province for settlement?
  • Can we invite the Northern Ontario School of Medicine to set up shop in Prince Albert, so as to allow for the training of up to 300 doctors, nurses and health support staff to establish practices in the northern half of the province?
  • Should we start restricting urban sprawl now, so as to prevent the destruction of potential farm lands as has been the pattern in Ontario?
  • Should we be now funding programs that encourage smaller farms to change over to sustained food growth practice and market gardening?
  • Should we be providing more voice to Indigenous communities so as to increase federal funding in reserve infrastructural building, 24/7/365 day paved roads to their gates, education and housing needs, as well as economic development?
  • Shouldn’t we be strengthening our school systems to provide better quality education, particularly in areas in which parallel academic excellence must be recognized between “blue collar” as opposed to “white collar”, as in done in Germany and other heavily industrialized nations?
  • Can we “trimester” our universities and colleges so that potential graduating students may obtain some co-op training in industries willing to hire them for a four month period from Year One to graduation?
  • Can we start getting serious when helping our communities to come to grips with reconciliation issues pertaining to our Indigenous population?
  • Can we adjust part-time work hours to a minimum of 18 hours per week at least paying minimum wage, while providing standard work benefits (WCB, holiday pay, etc.) in order to create more permanent and full-time jobs in the service industries?
  • If we’re going to address the issues of criminal activity and judicial reform, can we also start by increasing pay and number of legal aid lawyers, establishing counselling and training programs that have shown positive results of decreasing recidivistic behaviours, direct addictive personalities directly into detoxification centres for a more reasonable 90 days of monitoring and control?
  • Can we finally establish full-time work programs with reasonable base funding defined, particularly for the north, for high school students to obtain summer employment in forestry, mining, recycling, recreation and sustainable food developmental farming?
  • Can we finally establish water quality research so that the damages to our fresh water supplies that have transpired over the last 50 or so years (Quill Lake, potential toxic chemical drainage into Lake Diefenbaker if irrigation , etc.) be addressed and remedied?
  • Can we finally allow our northern Indigenous communities to direct forestry management practice, while experimenting with lands taken out of food production so as to provide secondary utilization of these properties, especially in the drought-stricken townships in the southwestern portion of the province?

There are literally hundreds of these types of questions that could be asked in a different fashion, but the idea of this exercise is to give next year’s voters, especially the youth, an idea as to what problems there are in society that actually affect—negatively or otherwise—their own lives and well-being.

If anyone has a strong sentiment, particularly teenagers who might want to experiment in participating in the political process, positively or otherwise, as to the intent of, or how answers could be applied in the production of legislation, feel free to drop off your comments or analysis in mail to the Herald. If this process succeeds in getting people to stop shouting at one another, so much the better…

Columnist Ken MacDougall looks at what issues dominated the recent August by-elections in Saskatchewan, and what issues should dominate the next provincial election.

Extremists misrepresent religious teachings in denying climate change

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Every time I travel down Highway 1 between Calgary and Regina, which I fully admit is not often these days, I can still remember travelling from Montreal to Saskatchewan, only to turn off in Maple Creek, where the first thing I noticed about the town where I was to teach for the next year was the billboard off the main highway describing itself: Population – 2,300; Houses of Worship -24, none of which included representation of persons ascribing to the Buddhist or Islamic faiths.

My numbers may be off a tad, but not by much, I assure you; blame the differential upon the increasing failure of my aging brain, or on my being an NDP supporter; however, in so doing, trust me, you’re definitely not going to get the point I’ll be trying to make in the next few paragraphs, to which some people will again try to point out that some of the reasoning I use in describing what I oppose just “doesn’t make any sense.”

Maple Creek’s religious identity was well represented by the good old-fashioned variety of houses of prayer, including Catholic, United, Anglican, Hutterite, Orthodox, Lutheran and Baptist, but there were a few tossed in for good measure that I had no idea as to their existence, such as the Plymouth Brethren, Church of God, Alliance, Salvation Army (two chapters), Full Gospel, Jehovah Witnesses and the Christian Faith.

The cynical side of me imagined that many had found their beginning when the first  settlers from Europe who’d come this far west to escape religious persecution saw on the horizon some 50 km further west the creation of but another of our many tempestuous weather fronts laden with ominous dark clouds, lightning and a funnel cloud just starting to be formed over this front having them believing they’d already missed the opportunity to sit at God’s right hand, but after surviving that onslaught decided to create still another brand of interpreting our Biblical teachings, just to keep their hopes up in He not having already decided who were to be His “chosen ones”.

The town’s population mimicked the portrayal I’d received when first seeing that billboard entering town. For those practising “old style religion”, being seen on the ninth hole in the town’s more-than-adequate golf course on Saturdays or early Sunday mornings differentiated their “belief” in Christianity leading to a pathway of wealth and power where having a “home” consisted not of an acreage or quarter-section of farmland, but townships where grazing cattle survived on sparse grasslands others in the world would call deserts, and anyone having settled in town after World War II were referred to as “newcomers”, no matter how many of their relatives had died during that era of Canadian history.

A second group of believers, the “Book Flap Generation”, proselytized God’s word on the basis of what they’d read in Genesis and Revelations on any given morning, still not aware that in constructing the first Bible according to God’s teaching Revelations wasn’t even considered to have relative context with the teaching of Jesus. A third group, replenishing its membership in lock step with the number of teens it would lose annually to road kill found on the way into Alberta following a “beer run”, content only in the knowledge that local bars only stocked their favourite brands, and that “mixers” were merely more concentrated versions of sodas referred to as “bourbon”, “rye” or “whiskey”.

Fortunately, the high school was far more eclectic in terms of its mixture of students versus those who weren’t, those who still knew the difference in political voice between Mississippi, Ontario, Quebec or Saskatchewan itself, and those who’d already analyzed Woodstock for its meaning to their future, and still found themselves totally lost in a world where they were already beginning to hate their parents’ reticence to contribute normalcy to their confused lives, much less the realization that the world around them was changing rapidly, but their elders were so wrapped up in themselves that they were failing to notice this very fact.

What pleased me the most, however, was the fact that almost without exception these kids craved knowledge, something often denied them by even their own parents or school administrators. I can still remember the conversations I used to have with one of my Grade 12 Physics 30 female students, started when I “dumbly” asked “why” she hadn’t included a course in Biology in her class itinerary, little realizing that as the daughter of a couple ascribing to the Plymouth Brethren faith, their unwillingness to address the teachings of Darwinism meant that her answer was almost contemptibly simple in its utterance, although she diplomatically refrained from suggesting my ignorance of their faith’s tenets reflected such disdain.

Even today, however, I wonder how this young woman, who along with three other “sisters” of her religious beliefs could suddenly find life “normal” once married a year later to someone from the Caribbean whom she’d never met prior to taking that class would fare, given that their own 90+ average in the subject and part of a group in the school that would pull off the highest provincial average score to that date in the history of composite schools in Saskatchewan, and with their capacity to improve upon this learning pathway being deprived of further exploration by their keen minds.

And so it goes. As the years follow this timeline, we as teachers and our children find ourselves being resisted in efforts to maintain a deeper standard for allowing these soon-to-be adults to seek answers to the questions we’ll never be allowed to ask, even in the Section C of what are supposed to be the “problem solving” opportunities of our lesson plans. In today’s classroom, even with a Master’s degree in the teaching of my subject and having assisted in the creation of published materials, there is always some superintendent questioning my reason for introducing alternative pathways to learn the materials. It makes me wonder how my former Director in Maple Creek would feel after having first shown him (accidentally) how to interpret statistical results, how he would have felt knowing that in instructing that brilliant group of students in Physics 30. I’d suggested that they’d understand the materials far better were we to spend the first three weeks of class familiarizing ourselves with the creation of equations used to calculate the paths of conic sections, as well as introductory understanding of differential and integral Calculus.

No, were I still under the age of 16, as a “child” I would begin to be seriously concerned as to how this next generation of parents are hindering our ability to learn, much less practice the art of survival their depriving me of knowledge, sexual, scientific or historical understanding, particularly with regard to the need to reach across the divide our politicians are creating for us, in order to allow me some capacity to be able to “teach” my own future generation.

If you examine the platform agenda for the various parties, you can immediately spot the items politicians don’t want you to fully comprehend, including what’s happening to our Earth in terms of climate change and our economic future, particularly when it pertains the creation of the energy resources we will require in order to further progress in the enhancement of our lives.

My cynical nature has no real boundaries save to note that the floods during Noah’s time were not the result of climate change, but rather in God’s disgust with the manner in which his “superior” creations, mankind, were destroying the blessings he’ bestowed in the Earth’s creation, and wanted a “do-over”.

Climate change is doing just that for us; the problem is, we’re still too insufficiently “evolved” so as to intellectually recognize what is happening, and to what consequence.

And here endeth the sermon…

“United” use of Gaetz – MTG “logic” difficult to understand in Lumsden Town Hall fracas

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As I stated in last week’s column, former Conservative MP Gerry Ritz should have stayed “retired” if all he intends to do on the hustings is plagiarize the tactics of Matt Gaetz and Marjorie Taylor Greene.

Ritz is inserting his new party into an acrimonious and American-orchestrated debate involving culture, sexuality, human rights and the future course to be taken by Canada’s educational system. When we add Saskatchewan “United” Party leader Nadine Wilson to this farce, we’re merely adding the instability of a politician whose word we will never be able to trust due to her unfettered contempt for accountability by having wrapped herself in a veil of nondisclosure agreements. 

By using what can only be described as “greaseball” political tactics, these “United” leaders have somehow managed to turn an “orderly” but serious concern of some Lumsden parents into a political football, one that now threatens to undermine our appreciation for the progress being made in codifying human rights while wondering whether our children will ever harvest the fruit of our legislative efforts.

Readers may recall that on June 23rd, Minister of Education Dustin Duncan temporarily banned Planned Parenthood from conducting sexual education workshops because one of its APPROVED presenters brought “age inappropriate” materials to supplement the Grade 9 presentation in Lumsden. While many conservative groups despise Planned Parenthood’s policies respecting birth control and counselling of young women seeking abortion advice – including Sask Party members, Duncan’s edict was an honest response to parental concerns echoing in Lumsden over the incident, with the assurance that the government would give it further scrutiny when children return to school in the Fall.

“United” party members, however, felt that this issue provided sufficient red meat to enable them to score points in the anticipation of the government calling a by-election for Lumsden – Morse, and organized a seemingly “spontaneous” “Protecting Parents’ Rights Town Hall” to be held on July 5th in Lumsden itself. More than 250 people showed up, just in time to watch Ritz and Wilson turn the town hall into a parody of the American right’s standard rallies citing governmental abuse of the educational system and usurping parental “rights”.

Ritz immediately went for the jugular, invoking the beliefs of MTG in slandering Democrats by calling all Planned Parenthood workers “groomers”, while maintaining that “Our families are under attack…”. Adding her “Amen”, Wilson pledged party support to the parents’ “cause”, noting that as “a grandmother of 10…we’re going to fight for you.”

We have also noted that MTG has defended the usage of “groomer” in describing her political opponents, maintaining that “Democrats support…children being sexualized, having transgender surgeries…[it’s]what pedophiles do to children.”

Stunned political observers note that her colleague, Florida Republican Matt Gaetz, still under investigation for allegedly transporting underage women, might better fit such description. Politicians blaming progressives for the abuses they now perceive preying upon their children may be a hard one for the public to get one’s mind around. However, it isn’t that our so-called “conservatives” aren’t trying to perform a feat that in conventional political circles might seem politically “impossible”.

This backwards journey started the moment statistics started showing that the political right were apoplectic with rage when a majority supported the entrenching of rights of LGBTQ2+, transgender citizens and allowing same-sex marriages to be universally legalized. We know that American “progressives” made similar assumptions when they declared that “race” was no longer a “dividing issue” in the U.S. because they’d now elected Barack Obama president – twice. 

However, we should have realized that by their constant campaigning to overturn Roe v Wade the fringe right and religious zealots will NEVER accept any law or social movement that sees progressives advocating for greater rights and freedoms, and having them enshrined in law. Thus, as we now see their tactics now being unfolded in full public view seeking ways to change and reverse public opinion and return control of the “rights” agenda to their camp.

It should have become obvious by now to our political campaign organizers that this charade created by the United Party is merely a “first step” in sewing the seeds of doubt. Parents, in the past, have accepted the educational agenda as one in which parents and government could work as “equal” in the creation and provision of common curriculum. However, now that they’ve allegedly been “shown” by the orchestrators of this “United” disinformation campaign that a government has marginalized their role to play in the education of their children, it’s only too obvious that they are reacting skeptically to the suggestion that the role of parent is soon to be overtaken by some “deep state” political entity.

Reality rather suggests that parents have become more vulnerable to this ploy of deceit by observing what has happened to the mental psyche of their children. After almost three years swaying to the winds of inappropriate Covid-10 policy designed to accommodate Donald Trump’s original contempt shown for the virus’s potential danger, they are STILL reflecting negatively and with great hostility as to the seeming decline of their own self-worth, identity and even sexuality. This in turn has resulted in children almost unanimously making the decision to remake themselves in a manner that provides them with a more secure sense of identity – and thereby embracing the very lifestyles that their more conservative parents seek to resist. 

By labeling these children “unprotected” within a society autocratically granting new lifestyle “rights” without first seeking acceptance from their parents, the religious right hopes that this tactic will eventually succeed in driving members of the LGBTQ2+ community back into the closets of victimization.

This phenomenon is not the creation of a parallel and controlling educational paradigm populated by Planned Parenthood, or left-leaning “influencers” but rather a trend having established in our schools called “accommodation”, wherein without exception the school no longer has any control of curriculum learned, what is taught in class and to what degree of difficulty, and parents explaining what “standards” are to be expected of them before they can call themselves “successes”.  Parents are increasingly having to be reconvinced that the eventual objectives of school and home are one and the same – and that following these upcoming by-elections and the 2024 campaign, this must become their focus for renewal and accommodation of assuring parents that their role within the classroom is still valued, no matter to what political persuasion you might subscribe.

‘United’ talking heads Ritz, Wilson sounding more like Gaetz – MTG than Canadian politicians

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Why the increasingly boring and totally irrelevant former Conservative MP Gerry Ritz can’t take a hint and stay “retired” is beyond me; every time he opens his mouth, I am reminded as to the role this has-been played in colluding with Stephen Harper to rid Canada of the Wheat Board, and the subsequent chaos that move made in the grain transportation scheme of things – Big Ag rushing out to sign the “big producers”, pressuring the rain system to prioritize unloading of produce at our export ports, and in the end causing over $17 BILLION in penalties to be assessed against grain producers, or approximately $114,000 EACH on average for the just under 44,000 producers in Saskatchewan at the time of this political philosophy war crime’s undertaking. That’s $5 billion divided by 44,000 – you do the math…

Randy Hoback often referred to Mr. Ritz as the ultimate “friend to farmers”; I’ve never been able to get my mind around whether he meant that in truth or as with some wry sense of regret for even knowing him…

Then we have Nadine Wilson, now leader of the province’s latest addition to party irrelevance and hard right-leaning half-truths and outright lies, the Saskatchewan “United” Party. Wonder how this new “image” goes over with Elders in her riding…

The reason I’m even writing about these two is because of the sideshow they created in Lumsden on Wednesday was exactly of the variety and content I’d expected to come from the Saskatchewan Party. On June 23rd, Minister of Education Dustin Duncan had issued a “directive” to BAN Planned Parenthood from presenting workshops on sexual education, at least until September, because one of its APPROVED presenters brought “age inappropriate” sexual discussion-prompting playing cards to a Grade 9 presentation in Lumsden.

The original reports that the Minister first received respecting this event was that in passing out of these cards to some students following its presentation Planned Parenthood did not take into consideration the fact that SOME of these cards might have contained materials that were “age inappropriate” – and that alone would be a good enough reason for the Sask Party to “Go Ugly!” come the 2024 campaign – and link Planned Parenthood and the NDP together to place them in opposition to the post-“Roe v Wade” crowd of neanderthal Republicans finding unique ways to further the cruelty presented to women wanting only the right to have access to safe medical care and access to abortion proceedings.

Wilson and Ritz, it now seems, would like the upcoming three by-elections in and around Regina to become “workshops” on how such an attack on the NDP would work before channelling them into the knife fight that 2024 will bring out between the Cracker Channel adherents of right-wing “culture”. And so when the Saskatchewan Party decided to call a “Protecting Parents’ Rights Town Hall” this past Wednesday, more than 250 people showed up at the Lumsden Town Hall to listen to Wilson and Ritz try and score some political points showing their party’s “concern” for this alleged abuse of the educational system.

In what would soon become a forum wherein the Saskatchewan United Party would unveil its true reasons for attending this gathering, that being to express their opposition to LGBTQ2+ and transgender health policies and rights. Former Harper shill and Minister of Agriculture Gerry Ritz started his sermon off by noting that “Our families are under attack…THEY think they’re going to win on the family level by sending in the so-called educators from Planned Parenthood”, whom he then proceeded to refer to as “groomers.”

Other than the fact that I’m still trying to find out just WHO were the “they” to which Mr. Ritz was referring, Mr. Ritz’s comments sounded not unlike MTG’s April 2nd televised interview when she referred to Democrats in general as “groomers”. Asked by CBS interviewer Lesley Stahl to explain that comment, MTG went on, maintaining that “Democrats support – even Joe Biden, the president himself – children being sexualized, having transgender surgeries…what pedophiles do to children.”

I would like to point out that oft-companion to Ms. Greene is MAGA Republican Matt Gaetz, a Florida Congressman representing the Tampa Bay area, currently under investigation for allegedly transporting, and having a sexual relationship with a young women of 17 years of age. One might actually see him as fulfilling the role of a true “groomer” for sexual purposes – that is, BUT for the objections of the even “harder” right wing-nuts who prefer to impose such labeling upon “trans” people, whose very doubts as to their personal sexual identity, whether “male” or “female”, have decided to answer this question by imposing on THEMSELVES the decision to re-identify themselves to society as of the opposite sexual persuasion, or perhaps even non-sexual.

Ritz may want to take a trip down this alley to see whether or not it “sells” in this heavily fundamentalist and religious section of the province, but even there parents are all too conscious as to how the past three years of dealing with the traumas induced by Covid-related actions and laws that may or may not have been beneficial in minimizing that disease’s influence upon their behaviours to follow in their children’s pathway to adulthood have contributed themselves towards having their young question almost everything about themselves, including who they truly are, sexually or otherwise.

Still, in pretending that she had no linkage whatsoever with whatever legislation her former colleagues in the Saskatchewan Party had taken in administering Covid-related policies, Wilson again plays the “outrage” card, “a grandmother of 10 beautiful grandchildren…[who]. wouldn’t want them to see…that filth. And we’re going to fight for you.”

To “fight” – and for what – is a really good question to ask here. Were the playing cards that “graphic” that the intent of the Planned Parenthood presentation was despoiled by their presence? I’m not going to provide an answer to that question, simply because as an adult who has had to give similar presentations in class (albeit for people over the age of 18), I had to look up the meaning of some of the terminology myself.

Did the cards include pornographic imagery to even “define” them as being “pornographic”? Not to the best of my knowledge.

And finally, despite by expanding a Grade 9er’s vocabulary in a rather bizarre direction, does anyone believe that the children actually using the cards to answer some of the questions their own parents should have been explaining years ago “traumatized” or permanently and emotionally damaged?

Let me answer that question as a teacher. When you’re doing hall duties during recess or other school events, you see words carved in the elementary school washrooms that you know the kids could only have heard coming from their parents’ lips. When you call in a parent to discuss how he and five of his buddies from Grade 8 were “body surfing” a severely traumatized Grade 6 girl as though they were all having intercourse with her, and the mother accuses you of making this stuff up DESPITE the Principal witnessing the event (and doing nothing to stop it), or worse, having some of your best students reporting the rape of one of their classmates, and knowing that the RCMP aren’t going to even hear about it – what’s worse?

Could this event have been handled better by Mr. Duncan? Of course – but that’s too late now, isn’t it?

Are the “United” party going to bring this incident up again in the near future, just to scare up a few more political points? Probably – but if they do, I might just drop by one of their “rallies”, just to see to whom Mr. Ritz will attribute the word “they”.

He won’t have to yell his answer across the entire hall for me to hear it, either…

Recent concerns raised as to the deterioration of graduate grade levels within Indigenous student ranks misleading and arrogant

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It’s always interesting to find quality content in the Herald dealing with matters of governance that are disturbing to most Saskatchewanians, to the point wherein they lead into a legitimate debate, as opposed to the standard “I Hate Justin” tripe we keep hearing from CPC leader Pierre Poilievre, SP leader and premier Scott Moe, or the decreasing number of “Karen” members of the Saskatchewan “United” Party, led by former SP MLA Nadine Wilson. Wednesday’s article, “Saskatchewan’s Indigenous high school graduation rates largely unchanged since 2018: auditor”, is one such piece.

Written by the Leader Post’s Alec Salloum, the sheer bluntness of provincial Auditor Tara Clemett’s quoted words suggest that she is desperately attempting to avoid whatever anti-intellectual inference may be attached to the story by our right-wing parties, but without much success. 

Starting from Grade 10 and over three years statistics show that only 60 per cent of Indigenous students will complete Grade 12, as opposed to over 90 per cent attending classes in the public sector. This factor also results in a considerably noticeable gap in the number of Indigenous unemployed (18.6 per cent v 5.6 per cent), and although these results were being reported upon the failure of the Ministry of Education’s 2018 strategic plan “Inspiring Success: First Nations and Métis PreK–12 Education Policy Framework”, no causal effect could be linked to its findings, simply because the plan offered absolutely no time frame within which to measure such objectives, nor whether such a task had even been recommended by the plan’s creators.

As an amendment to the “Inspiring Success – Building Towards Student Achievement: First Nations and Métis Education Policy Framework (2009)”, its objectives appeared to be addressing the proper educational needs so as to bridge the differentials between learning through First Nation and/or Metis methodologies versus the Euro-centric manner in which such knowledge is presented, and our dire needing to share such knowledge, methodologies and cultural expectations addressed. 

In Dr. Marie Battiste’s words, “Indigenous knowledge is inherently tied to…particular landscapes, landforms and biomes where ceremonies are properly held, stories properly recited, medicines properly gathered and transfers of knowledge properly authenticated.” 

Unfortunately for Ms. Clamett, but amusing nonetheless, I HAVE seen a significant amount of the information the Auditor now seeks – within the contents of my Master’s thesis, published in 2007. I even quoted certain facts pertaining to her inquiry in a publication expected to be released by the Prince Albert – DENE on or about June 26, 2023, reflecting the SAME concerns as she, BUT with reference only to the Harper government’s 2014 and 2015 release of his First Nations Student Success Program (FNSSP), put into play in 2014 and 2015.

Equally frustrating, were the Auditor pursue this matter to the federal level, she would invariably find first that, while Indigenous Services Canada did collect such data, the “Spring 2018: Reports of the Auditor General of Canada to the Parliament of Canada”, and “REPORT 5: Socio-economic Gaps on First Nations Reserves—Indigenous Services Canada” ALSO did not report results coming from the FNSSP, and probably never will, 

It concluded an overwhelming number of teachers yielded some substantial “positives” to mathematics learning through their teaching efforts. That included Ms. Eva Satra, Mr. Wayne Branton and myself, who were performing such tasks in Hatchet Lake, where our school’s results exceeded an 1,100% improvement. The result that could have been even higher, IF most male students had even bothered to show up for the final examination.

Looking at the 2009 release of the “First Nations and Métis Perspectives and Ways of Knowing” legislation the study wasn’t really asking for much. Something had to be done to recognize the role Indigenous kids played in the educational process (and was) but the message that the public as well as both the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) and the Federation of Saskatchewan Indigenous Nations (FSIN) received from Scott Moe’s government was for them to not expect the province to recognize Nov. 30 as a National Day for the Discovery of Truth and Reconciliation for the nation any time soon. 

Canada’s Constitution allows the province to “administer” federal education processes, define curriculum and grant degrees, which they’ll gladly do, just so long as those duties do not require them to fund their perpetual screw-ups; if you’re looking for money, talk to the feds; that’s their “responsibility”.

Actually, we should be thanking Ms. Clemett for “exposing” this data deficient situation, especially since the graduation level “problem” is not only resurfacing among Indigenous students’ results, but is also trending in Saskatchewan’s smaller school districts. Provincial education authorities, without any form of supporting “evidence” maintain that the ideas that consultants such as those with whom I work are failing to incorporate “fresh” programs that further “stimulate” students to succeed, as what we’re doing, even within the Job Readiness program work with the Prince Albert Grand Council – DENE is considered to be “same old, same old”; mine is more like “You don’t know what the Hell you’re talking about.”

There’s no “arrogance” meant here. Today, even the quietest of teachers having legitimate reason for educational reform make themselves potential targets for recrimination, when it’s far less stressful in silently waiting for them to finish their point of view.

On June 30, I will ask PAGC – DENE to release my 30 point response towards radically revising the senior high school credit list and imposing change within the classroom, including asking teachers at the lower elementary levels to resign and make way for more potential role models more suitable to that profile of excellence.

Should Ms. Clemett in the meantime wish to discuss her concerns as to missing data coming from high school probing into the graduation rates of our northern high schools, I will be more than happy to set aside time for the task.

As well, thank you, Alec Salloum, for writing this piece up so that the issue can receive the critique it deserves.

‘Waiting for Monday’ polling indicates Albertans still unwilling to accept climate change as real

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OK, what am I missing here? When I think of what has happened in Alberta since Danielle Smith became premier and her disastrous start to the current election by going from weird to ethically challenged in the wink of a Trudeau eyelash, why is it that days before the provincial election on Monday, we’re still talking about her remaining premier come May 30?

Let me see how this went. First, Smith defeats former Harper clone Jason Kenney as leader of the Uninformed and Corrupt Party, then introduces the Alberta Sovereignty Act to demonstrate her Constitutional illiteracy, only to have that action declared “nuts” and will turn the province into a “laughingstock” by Kenney, who subsequently resigned in disgust.

Next, she gets caught in the middle of an all-out breach of ethics by an alert CBC reporter attempting to influence the Justice Department to tread lightly upon Calgary “pastor” Artur Pawloski, who is charged with inciting violence under Alberta’s Critical Infrastructure Defence Act after encouraging American militia members and goon squad supporters of the Carbon Convoy to utilize their skills (and the weaponry they brought to the Coutts border crossing) in helping God’s people expose “anti-Christian persecution and government corruption” in setting forth anti-Covid “mandates” as the starting point within a “communist-controlled Canada” of establishing public health measures [that would inevitably result in] “the mass execution of Christians.”

With wildfires starting near Fort McMurray almost from Day 1 of the campaign, premier Smith and NDP leader Rachel Notley had little choice but to cease their personal campaigning and address provincial concerns about the outbreak. By May 4, the province’s boreal forest and grasslands had reached “cross-over” critical conditions, a scientifically “polite” way of saying temperatures were too high while humidity levels were dangerously low. By May 8, more than 30 fires were already “out of control” and another 70 started, forcing the evacuation of some 30,000 people in Alberta alone, most of whom had been forced to move in similar fashion when the 2019 blazes had turned most of Fort Mac into ashes.

Despite Alberta’s money-printing petroleum wealth having kept the province’s treasury well stocked, it didn’t take long for the people who actually cared about protection of the forestry industry to pick up on the reality that to the UCP, climate change was not a major concern. Firefighters and City Council in Edmonton demanded that cuts to the March budget, some $101 million, be restored. Of that amount, some $500,000 to assist rural Albertans to train volunteer fighters is the part that hurts the most, as this is where the fires are going to be fought, not in downtown Edmonton or Calgary.

However, it was soon back to “business as usual”, with Smith blandly asserting that the province would work its way through the crisis. Since then only one of them – Notley – has brought up the topic again, knowing full well that such a response was depressingly insufficient for a public in dire need of crisis leadership at a time of serious need in Alberta’s UPC-dominated rural regions.

As has been the case for the last 20 years, what fuels Alberta voters supporting the UCP the most is their shameless willingness to tie anything that might go wrong in the province to the presence of Justin Trudeau in the Prime Minister’s office, particularly when it comes to the seemingly endless delays in getting pipelines constructed so as to get bitumen product to market and quickly past the need to expand consultation with Indigenous groups and American eco-terrorists allegedly being funded by environmental groups such as the Sierra Club. 

The problem here is that it was the Harper government with its massive omnibus bills and desire to simply muzzle dissent that only further exacerbated the consultative process, turning large segments of Alberta’s population into Wexit, or western alienation trending voters. 

Interestingly enough, it was Danielle Smith who recognized the reality of that analysis, and knowing full well that if this movement were to continue, there would be no second term for her party, she simply told Albertans not to worry, and that they could still continue to think of themselves as Canadians because the UCP “had the meat” – in this case, the Sovereignty Act, that would make certain that the feds would face considerable legal challenge to any issue that they opposed in the re-transitioning of Alberta’s economy away from “green” and back into the petroleum industry’s controlling dictates.

Temporarily at least, it appears as though that portion of her leadership thought processes resulted in this strategy becoming a correct call for her. However, that still doesn’t explain her spininess in trying to move health policy and poorly constructed health mandates during the Kenney years into a full frontal assault against mRNA second stage vaccines and taking steps to privatize major portions of health care simply because anti-vaxxers couldn’t understand how Bruce Willis could have died “at such a young age” or even now why Teflon, now deemed to be a ”forever chemical” in our drinking water yielding the SAME types of death anti-vaxxers are trying to link to “getting an mRNA produced jab”.

And what’s with this obsession with polling numbers in and around Calgary, wherein Ipsos-Reid is telling us that the NDP were “Up” 3 points in Calgary-Glenmore 30minutes ago, only to be told with grim finality by “338” or Grenier that it’s all over now, folks, and Danielle Smith’s mediocre 37% polling in Oilville, Canada destines her to be the first (sort of) Conservative leader in Canada to be cannibalized or winning?

And then there are the “endorsements” – former, even current UCP members either publicly saying they can’t vote for Smith or are now supporting Notley, with even Pierre Poilievre now not even bothering to put down the shaving kit to tell us he supports Smith’s “Conservative” values? 

Who cares? The only number that’s accurate at the moment is the one that saying 28% of Alberta’s eligible voters have ALREADY voted, and the pollsters have no idea on how to translate that result.

This is starting to sound more like Biden v Trump, isn’t it? I don’t like the unease it’s creating in me, but then were I right ALL of the time, it wouldn’t be any fun writing this stuff in the first place. I’m still taking Notley, though, with less than 0.4% vote differential – and keeping my fingers very well crossed in the process.

“Pathetic”: Laying out the focus for Bill 88’s eulogy

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I must admit that wherever I’ve written columns, I’ve almost always have had “critics” who focus upon the superficial aspects of my writing, as opposed to its substance. I have no idea as to why that happens, although I suspect that the major reason that they become “offended” in this manner is due to their believing that any offering of mine is anathema to the beliefs of the party for which they normally vote.

I have one such reader here in Prince Albert, a realtor who professes not to “hate me”, but rather considers my points of view to be “pathetic” – as though that word alone provides some form of reasoned debate that might contradict the basic facts I gather in order to establish a debate position before I even try to make my point in this column. It’s not, trust me on that one fact alone.

Take, for instance, my position with respect to Pierre Poilievre, the latest in a string of Stephen Harper clones that, like Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe, say nothing, offer nothing (even though they claim to have solutions to our current problems, be they economic or otherwise) and then pile onto one person, Justin Trudeau, as though all evil befalls us from the lint he washes from his navel during his morning shower. They don’t.

Simply put, our malaise has become indelibly etched in our brains as a result of dealing with a pandemic’s disease that refuses to be conquered. Our scientists cannot obliterate it without still more research into its origin, and our politicians are still trying to ignore the social harm our seemingly “do nothing but issue mandates” approach even though former President Donald Trump almost died from the disease. 

To put it another way, we’ve stopped thinking, and all we’re now doing is yelling at one another, as though that in itself is somehow going to “solve the problem”. Again, trust me; it ain’t working – at least, not for me.

What all of society is failing to recognize is that the effects of this pandemic are also striking us at a time when our nation – every nation, actually – has to face the grim reality of our having to take ourselves off an unhealthy diet of petroleum dependency, at least if we want our grandchildren to have grandchildren themselves. Climate change is not a joke. Go ask a farmer who, following 2021’s drought, had to sell large portions of his herd or land in order to have enough money to remain operational in 2022. 

Reality also tells us that had we actually listened to Marc Lalonde when the (Pierre) Trudeau government proposed a national energy program that included transferring oil across Canada to be refined in Upper Canada (a proposal SUPPORTED by Quebec), we wouldn’t be talking about the “urgent need” for us to diverge our economies into thinking “green”. Instead, we started a “war of words”, with Alberta firing the first shot by telling eastern-most provinces that they could all “freeze in the dark”.

It was greed combined with the lobbying efforts of U.S. Big Oil interests that allowed Albertans to think in such fashion, and in the successive years our fourth reality check, namely that our environment was overreacting to ecological and environmental abuse that it is now poisoning the land to such an extent that our very food supplies are dangerously threatened. Moved by such developments, the federal government passed legislation that began focusing attention upon such happenings, only to further antagonize Albertans wanting to retain control of the identity through the literal “doubling down” upon the “need” for more radical exploration and extraction of our non-renewable resource base – ironically, basing their demands upon the nation’s “energy security needs”.

Love Canal, PG&E or even Suncor’s “naturally occurring” release this week of over 6 million liters of waste water into the Athabasca River notwithstanding, the American right and the Harper-led Conservative alliance’s stance towards ANY form of legislation designed to protect our environment is contemptuously referred to as “job-killing regulation”. 

Despite the increasing bitterness and antagonism towards any form of pipeline construction, PM Stephen Harper, once successfully ensconced as PM in a majority government following the Liberals’ “sponsorship scandal” disaster, went full bent on either amending or removing major legislation in a series of omnibus bills designed to eliminate such protest. They only made things worse. When then-President Obama spoke out against the Keystone XL pipeline, the full fury of the environmental movement was released on his government. In 2015 his government was humiliated by a Liberal Party now led by Justin Trudeau.

Seven years later, the potential environmental disasters that were first forecast in 1914 have struck with a vengeance, major climate change is occurring even as the Saskatchewan and Alberta governments deny its very existence, our food supplies are being threatened by environmental contamination and drought, particularly in California, the Prairie provinces, and southern Europe, yet somehow the Alberta and Saskatchewan governments are blaming these factors upon the federal Liberals (and Justin, of course), while still trying to justify the expansion of non-renewable oil resource extraction given new life breathing through a non-technological apparatus known as the Russian-Ukraine “war”. 

Seizing upon the alleged “powers” provided by the 1930 amendment of Section 92 in the Constitution, amateur magicians and premiers Scott Moe and Danielle Smith have subsequently “forcefully” expressed their determination to ameliorate the constitutional powers that allow the federal government to legislate issues of interest to the entire nation through two joke bills: Saskatchewan’s Bill 88, the “Saskatchewan First Act” (which I refer to as the SFA), and the “Alberta Sovereignty within a United Canada Act”.

Both legislative acts will inevitably be found to be unconstitutional, and with lawyers representing the Onion Lake First Nation last week agreeing to challenge Bill 88, it is in the sincerest of hopes that once such a ruling has stricken these two bills down, these same lawyers will finally be joined by the FSIN and the AFN legal offices in making their arguments to extend to the original determination of the federal government to amend Section 92 in 1930, under the same argument.

As this legal battle heats up, so too will the cry for separation from Canada increase in both Saskatchewan and Alberta. Individuals such as former MLA Allan Kerpan and his political associates who now actively support the Maverick (WEXIT) Party of Canada understand even less about our nation’s Constitutional obligations than they do the issues in foolishly sounding off about such a need and instead start reading the documentation that framed our initial creation as a nation. Quebec’s attempt to create such separation may have been started by know-nothings such as Kerpan, but once the vote to actually become a separate nation was taken, cooler heads promoting the idea suddenly realized that their problems in forming their nation were just beginning. Were there no Canadian government with which to bargain, they would have been forced to negotiate their existence with Quebec’s northern Cree population, as territorial integrity and ruling reverted to their leadership, leaving this new nation only “ruling” the strips of farmland along the St. Lawrence River. But then, western Canadian “conservative” voters have never understood that we’re not the United States, but rather a nation formed on higher ethical standards.

Indigenous response to increased crime: “Either help us solve the problem, or get out of the way…”

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Residents in the south-east corner of Bear Paw Crescent on the Muskoday First Nation were rudely awakened at about 5:00 AM on April 1st to the sound of gun shots from a shotgun and an assault rifle. Three homes were hit, two in which no family members were in gangs.. One home has over 130 pellets embedded in its siding, while in the other a high-power rifle bullet made its way through three walls and a child’s bed before finally burying itself in a fourth wall. While no one was hurt following this incident, a $5,000 reward has been posted for anyone who can come forward with information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individuals so involved.

Furious over the sheer random recklessness under which the shootings took place, community members have asked Chief and Council to seek a resolution to the epidemic of crystal meth and cocaine drug dealing on both reserves and within communities surrounding Prince Albert.

Under normal circumstances individuals are usually fearful that if they come forward to testify or provide information to the police, they may be targeted for future retaliation. However, in this case where a child could have been killed had he not been sleeping in another room, local gang leaders are well aware that this incident’s publicity will inevitably trigger a heightened vigilance in their daily routines, and lead to further arrests, curb ancillary “business activities” and reduce their customer base for as long as pressure is brought to bear to find the shooters. As a result, police are hoping that an “anonymous” source in the gang’s hierarchy will eventually provide them with the information they seek.

Such incidents are becoming almost daily occurrences on reserves around Prince Albert, and the general feeling coming from these communities is that it’s time for strong action to be taken against residents selling mostly crystal meth and cocaine derivatives from reserve-owned homes. Such actions most likely would include immediate eviction; however, other remedial and preventative measures that have been suggested include advising adults with drug addiction issues to either enter into a program or be evicted, or adults who have put their children at risk through such behaviours be referred to Indigenous Family Services. Bands are now rushing to establish Tribal police services, principally as a way of engendering more cooperation in providing information as to current or potential criminal activities on reserve, which would effectively dampen a gang’s ability to threaten “rats” with retaliation.

Due to their smaller population base, members of Council are occasionally caught between the proverbial “rock and a hard place” wherein a family member may be on the agenda as a candidate for eviction and even possibly banishment from the reserve, thereby causing severe headaches in trying to find on what side they should vote in this family’s affairs. However, by far the biggest problem stems from the fact that if a community member is evicted from reserve housing, local communities, especially in Prince Albert, only see such actions being nothing more than the bands “dumping” their criminal issues back onto the doorsteps of the larger communities.

Indigenous leaders see the provincial government’s attitude towards crime on reserves as two-faced, reactionary and completely inadequate. More women’s shelters and “safe” house” investment called for in the latest provincial budget may look great on paper, but rhetoric such as that being provided by Mayor Greg Dionne to “put a stop to the catch-and-release mentality of a justice system that is increasingly ‘soft on crime’” simply ignores the reality that such action do nothing to resolve the issues that created the problem in the first place. Not surprisingly, Indigenous adults take a completely different perspective to these matters. As one resident from Muskoday noted, “We don’t need kids from P.A. coming to the rez to buy their sh*t; [if one of them] gets hurt,” the problem is now “owned” by the reserve. As for the budget calling for increased funding for patrol of rural areas, critics of the soon-to-be created Marshal’s Service are already describing its members as poorly trained “goon cowboy(s)… pretending to be a SWAT team” looking for any reason to “kill our kids.”

Clearly, then, with feelings being elevated to such emotional levels of outburst, a less controversial approach has to be considered in order to get this problem under control. One suggestion being considered is for local reserve leaders and Chiefs, along with the Prince Albert Police Commission, RCMP detachment commanders, reeves from surrounding communities and representatives from the Prince Albert Grand Council to form a special task force and draft a proposal for future and ongoing action to get these activities under control. In so doing, intelligence being gathered regarding criminal activities by provincial police forces in the region will keep these smaller communities apprised of its potential for harm, and thus make them more adequately prepared to respond to future potential crises.

Indigenous leaders see such a task force working only if Prince Albert and surrounding community leaders try to view the importance of Prince Albert to themselves through their own eyes. While the province may describe the city as “the Gateway to the North”, it’s also the first stop in the migration of the homeless and persons seeking meaningful job opportunities coming from northern locations that MLA’s are reluctant to even visit much less fiscally assist. Similar issues of increased criminal activity arose when Weyerhaeuser first attempted to reopen the paper mill facility. Back then, construction of low-cost housing units, apartments, and condominiums built to house the expected surge of persons moving to Prince Albert in anticipation of that opening should have started months in advance of this event even happening. Now, with only months before Paper Excellence opens its doors, nothing has been learned from that lesson nor any parallel apparently drawn by City Council, even though the increasing presence of abandoned shopping carts near our shopping malls indicates the presence of a homeless community the size of which neither police nor Council are prepared to measure. It therefore remains the question as to whether Mayor Dionne might wish to put a hold on his polemic, or as a city Indigenous resident noted, step up and help this task force do its job, or “Just shut up and get out of the way” while others do the job for him.

Cliché-ridden Minister’s speech can’t hide north’s fiscal woes

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Even as a Mathematics teacher, governmental budgets are hard to interpret. However, having read a goodly portion of its contents on the provincial web site, I was at least ready to listen as to what points the Minister of Coin, Donna Harpauer, would stress at the Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce Luncheon. I might as well have brought the entire document to the luncheon, just so I could check off the points Ms. Harpauer cherry-picked from its contents. When it came to prioritizing concerns for the Prince Albert region and northern Saskatchewan, precise figures were buried in accolades of self-congratulation, such as “growth that works for everyone” – that is, for everyone living south of Saskatchewan’s revised northernmost border, vaguely located somewhere just south of Duck Lake.

No one in the Chamber of Commerce who read my column would have been particularly surprised that when it came time to ask the Minister questions, my particular offering was most likely going to be critical – which wouldn’t have had to be, if she’d at least laid off the usage of so many cliches and questionable tidbits of “fact”.

For instance, when you mention that the Ministry of Health’s budget has increased by some 6.7 per cent over the 2021 figure, then say that much of that increase will be going to try and recruit and/or train more health care workers and doctors, as well as their upgrading of qualifications, but you just fail to mention that the average inflationary factor affecting the purchase of goods and services to run our health care institutions is just over 6%, this means only one thing – health care funding has been CUT. That’s despite the fact that there are still major health concerns in measuring waste water content to show that whatever the public might believe regarding the Covid pandemic, that virus is still creating ill effects within the community. The same can be said for the $161.4 million in funding the three school divisions in Prince Albert, where Saskatchewan Rivers has already been forced to cut back services.

At this point, you might be asking yourself, “didn’t the provinces just get a 10% boost in federal funding to address health care concerns, particularly with respect to the fact that more than a quarter of our population does not have a family physician?” Apparently, these funds have somehow managed to find their way down the rabbit hole that the $400 million the federal government gave the province to clean up abandoned oil drilling sites – that is, unless there’s been another major development on one of Regina’s Jean Drapeau Bypass’s on/off ramps that swallowed another half a billion dollars or so. 

However, the point that finally blew it for me was when the Minister talked about product being shipped to market “increasing” by some 120% in 2022. Consider that in 2021 we were in the midst of a Covid pandemic in which this province’s death per 100,000 population was the worst in Canada and such movement was plagued by manpower shortages and health mandate measures. Just how does that figure compare with 2019? To me, without such a comparison, her even mentioning such questionable “fact” reeks of the Minister simply “blowing smoke”, and hoping we aren’t asthmatic.

My question to the Minister was fairly straightforward, and given by the adverse publicity they’d received since the last provincial election, it should have been obvious. But even then her answers became hesitant, even to the point of asking Premier Moe to clarify aspects of the budget pertaining to road infrastructure in the north. Most of these monies are marked in the budget as being for gravel roads to assist future aggressive forestry harvesting truck movement. Does this mean that Wollaston Lake is still going to have to wait before finally getting its now-promised 24 / 7 / 365 all-weather road finally completed so that the community can resurrect its plans to export fish product to Europe? It DEFINITELY means that La Loche should not be expecting Highway 155 improvements any time soon, much less a road into the new mine sites so that those desperately seeking work in that northern region from Green Lake upward can actually drive to work and come home on their own once their shifts are completed.

And when, pray tell, can Prince Albert expect that BOTH bridges that are now needed to move a more active and heavily freighted product through our northern gateway to aid the increased and properly supported infrastructural need do their jobs in helping this province restore its economic health?

The conclusion of this event was equally farcical, particularly when it came to answering the question posed by one of the more quiet individuals attending the luncheon, that being “When is Prince Albert going to get a member of Cabinet in caucus?”

Irrespective of what Ms. Harpauer might say, Mr. Hargrave’s role when he was a member of Cabinet now appears to have been a strategically placed barrier to criticism with the Chamber. As for Ms. Ross, her particular areas of expertise, social services, are among the most underfunded, and Nicole Rancourt, the former NDP holder of her seat, is again considered to be the best politician capable of doing the tasks assigned them.

Last but not least, I have to worry about Mayor Greg Dionne, kowtowing to the bleating annoyances of the city’s voters as to crime rates within the city, and “keeping track of the postal codes of persons detained by the Prince Albert Police Service.” For the record, he knows full well that the implication of his remarks to me spell out the “reality” that many, even most likely most such records originate from reserve locations. The Mayor fully knows that these communities, including the one in which I live (Muskoday), have the SAME concerns about personal safety as do residents of Prince Albert—that being the increasing proliferation of crystal meth and cocaine derivative trafficking due to a well organized and out-of-province controlled criminal element. 

As a member of the Police Commission, both the Mayor and Chief Jon Bergen might themselves be able to swing this disturbing trend in an opposite direction were they, along with the leaders of reserve and town communities around Prince Albert to form a joint task force so as to provide a more reasonable strategy to eradicating this problem, as opposed to the province’s “solution” to form their “Marshall Service” of provincial officers, who would be useless to act as part of that task force’s policing community, for the simple reason that they have to be FEDERAL officers in order to enter reserve lands. In short, these are the inherent weaknesses of the current budget, at least as I see them. Some members of the Chamber may disagree, and that’s fine; however, instead of continuing to support a government desperate to turn the economy around without even considering the 17% of the population that ultimately has a major effect upon that destiny, stop whining about Justin and the need for Bill 88, when what’s really needed in this time of crisis is the ability of people in power to think of resolutions outside what has become an irritating box of many words.

Bill 88 implications require focus from Indigenous leaders

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Some time prior to the 2015 election I attended a public information forum in Saskatoon asking Indigenous peoples whether they should vote federally, provincially or in municipal contests. While I’m fairly certain that hard-core rightist party supporters would have a three-day hangover over that answer being negative, the question does have some validity in that Treaty negotiators, sitting at that table as leaders of “nations within a nation”, should be focusing upon the benefits to be gleaned by their own people through successful negotiation, as opposed to interfering in the cultural practises of others.

When I first heard this premise being presented by a very young Poundmaker Councillor, I was seriously opposed to this hands-off approach – for two reasons. First, it was national Grand Chief Perry Bellegarde who shortly after the Harper government dropped the election writ, TOLD Indigenous voters to NOT vote for a Conservative candidate, as Harper’s recently passed “Fair” Elections Act had the potential to disenfranchise tens of thousands living on reserve lands – a point I was there to argue myself.

In reality the Act had the potential to disenfranchise more than a million Canadians. Originally drafted by now temporary CPC Leader Pierre Poilievre, even its later “toned down” version specifically DEMANDED that if challenged as to your eligibility to vote in a riding, your identity “proof” HAD to show the PHYSICAL location where you resided. To rural voters who think that’s “fair”, pull out your driver’s license and check whether it lists your land description (township, block and lot) in the identity section or merely your mailing address; IF it contains only the latter, you were theoretically ineligible to vote – as were other Conservative “undesirables” – the Indigenous who don’t believe in owning the land, the homeless, the transient, the person of “wrong colour” NOT wearing a Riders jacket, naturalized Canadians from the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent, and women “sporting” facial tattoos.

I’ve included this story about voting rights in 2015 because even hard right Conservative voters understand that voting IS actually a Canadian’s citizen’s “right” once they reach the age of 18, and as such is enshrined in our Constitution and Bill of Rights. My premise for tying voting rights with concerns as to the contents of Bill 88 is that it has now created a “keep your bloody Ottawa hands off the affairs that the Constitution has assigned to our province” dangerous meanness between the two levels of government.

It is actually the provincial government that doesn’t seem to understand the duties it’s been assigned, doesn’t perform them for certain “classes” of Canadian citizens (i.e.: Indigenous peoples), and stupidly ignores the premise that their inability to properly manage such duties could have serious fiscally damaging consequences for Saskatchewanians by violating the rights of others NOT living in this province, or Canada itself. Such liability costs would inevitably be borne by taxpayers (including the Indigenous ones) – just because the Sask Party doesn’t “like” Justin Trudeau.

I’d cry in sympathy with their Gen X “sensitivities”, but to be honest, the Moe government isn’t worth the effort to generate tears of rage.

The “standard” duties constitutionally assigned to provinces include health, education, legal and social services, as well as infrastructure. So why are so many roads either leading into or passing reserves either unpaved or in serious need of repair? How did the Wall government’s CANCELLING of monies allocated to build a 24/7/365 roadway into Wollaston Lake NOT adversely affect that community’s efforts to economically develop a fish processing plant that could then see its excellent finished product shipped to its overseas markets? Why wasn’t the bridge just west of La Loche that would have allowed traffic to have a shorter route to the Oil Patch built when it would have only cost $17 million, as opposed to its current $50 million price tag – AND would have provided a transportation route to be used by central Canadian and U.S. manufacturing interests transporting goods to that area with an approximate 900 km “short-cut” that would have almost halved transportation costs – not to mention being a road carrying twice the traffic now passing over Regina’s $2 billion Jean Drapeau Bypass? And what about Prince Albert’s TWO bridges – where even currently the one decrepit version already carries three times the traffic of the “Made in France” bypass that only Regina developers thought was a great idea?

The reduction in welfare costs and policing activities would easily cover the costs of such construction. Don’t stop there. Bands need water treatment facilities built? Have contractors make arrangement to employ community members and build them – it’s the province’s DUTY under our Constitution. So what if Indigenous Affairs is a federally charged responsibility? Would a landlord continue to demand a building manager keep on picking up a tenant’s garbage or just evict the polluter? Send the feds the bill; it was them that assigned the province these janitorial tasks in the first place. Stop whining about Justin. Harper, Mulroney, Diefenbaker and Bennett were also lousy property “managers”.

Ah, but you see, that’s not how the system works, is it? I hear this story all the time: once a Chief is elected, he/she is seldom ever seen in the community. Why’s that? Why, they’re participating in important treaty negotiations where they’re now treated as leaders of “nations within a nation”. The irony here is that this work, were it to attain “breakthrough” in the form of a negotiated settlement, these Chiefs are now so blinded by the flashing of media cameras that they don’t notice that just after the PM has affixed his signature to the document, one of his “assistants” takes it from the desk and delivers it to a government lawyer, whereupon the next time it will be seen is by a Supreme Court justice screening its contents for legal challenges by the same government that just concluded these negotiations.

People are tired of reading about court cases where the victim or the accused (sometimes both) are Indigenous. I want Indigenous leaders to start using their lawyers to bring forward litigation issues of a more “meaningful” consequence, such as challenging the reworking of Section 92, the Natural Resources Transfer Act of 1930, or reopening the overturning of the original Benoit v Canada case.

That Bill 88 is unconstitutional is a “given”, with the areas of its focus potentially posing serious ecological, climatic and economic damage for northern communities and continuing strained relations on the international level of world commerce. We have already been overburdened by stories of the province refusing to sell Crown lands to First Nations seeking economic relief, even as speculators contemplate the building very private, well-fenced vacation homes on the lakes named for our war dead.

Our north is already blighted by clear cutting practices. Add to this a list of new resource harvesting corporations starting mining operations under climate and environmental protection legislation that the province wants to “dumb down”, and the voters who put these Chiefs into office might want to ask them, “WHY couldn’t you stay at home for a while, if only to protect the things that really matter to our communities?”

These same Chiefs might also want to ask themselves why the Athabasca riding, now held by Jim Lemaigre of the Sask Party, supported a candidate whose sole mission was to “sell” Bill 88. The NDP candidate, Georgina Jolibois, is literally considered to be a hero in the rest of Canada’s Indigenous communities for her introducing a private member’s bill to set aside a national holiday to address the need for a “truth of history and need for reconciliation” day for Canadians – and for which the Liberal Party courteously asked for permission to place on the order table as the business of government.

Was that because the Chiefs thought that Indigenous peoples voting in provincial affairs had no consequence in their lives, or was it more likely because Jolibois’ accomplishment could never be challenged in the Supreme Court? My bet is on the latter…

Weak election spending laws allow “charities” to push limits of the Conservative Hate Agenda to extremes

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I’m not really certain at this point as to whether my subscribing to Twitter was, as Martha might say., “a good thing”; I just know that the random posts I’m now reading in accounts such as “Canada Proud” or “Concerned Canadian”, both of which express hardcore, far right political philosophies that make no bones about hating the PM while supporting the Poisonous One who now heads the Conservative Party of Canada, push the limits of extremism, and in some cases border on being hate crimes as defined in Canada’s Criminal Code.

Yes, this beginning seems to be preaching the same message as last week’s attempt at portraying just how sickening political debate has become in Canada – but with a “difference”. By looking behind the scenes as to “why” this now out-of-control rhetoric has become so popular on social media, it’s important to know the background and character of the disinformation peddlers who are peddling this trash, and note the strings of disharmony they are plucking in order to get the increasingly sick responses they receive from a public no longer seeking solutions to their own problems, but merely wanting to vent their frustrations as to how their lifelong expectations have gone astray over the past three years.

In order to get the Hate Agenda message across, online trolls use a psychological ploy that attempts to disassociate cause from effect, thus rendering its readership in forgetting one side or another of contributing factors going into influencing their feelings or sentiments. One such Saskatchewan example is how the Canada Growth Council, a creation of playboys Tyler Willox, a Sask Party major donor, Eric Clark, a former Sask Party Director and Derek Robinson, former communications director for Premier Wall, were extremely effective in having former Liberal MP Ralph Goodale defeated in the 2019 campaign. Their approach was as simple as it was simple-minded. Goodale’s name was dropped in describing how the riding had previously voted, replaced by portraying Regina-Wascana voters as being “victim of the ‘failed policies’ being implemented by an incompetent and unqualified leader, Justin Trudeau.”

Their “solution”? One could either abandon the Canadian dream and support the WEXIT Movement (which was actually what the CGC wanted to have happen), OR redirect your vote to a Conservative Party member who will restore faith in a nation worthy of being “saved” through better governance.

That this destructive approach did not work in favour of electing American Andrew Scheer as PM, nor for that matter Erin O’Toole in the 2021 campaign does not mean that the hardcore base of right-leaning membership currently dominating the Conservative Party have abandoned their attempts to disassociate economic realities from their causal linkage; rather, their adherents, pushed behind the scenes to continue along this avenue of vitriolic hatred by an now resurfacing Stephen Harper, current Conservative leader Pierre Poilievre has cemented the amalgamation of the Party’s publicity wing with the Mobilizing Media Group in order to carry his message to the electorate through to the anticipated campaign date of sometime in October of 2025.

MMG is unlike most other media groups in Canada, in that through the shell structure that established its very existence it is considered by the Canada Revenue Agency to be a part of a non-profit, “charitable” organization. What this means to political “insiders” is that through a subtle twisting of tax regulation, wealthy individuals sympathetic to the hardcore Conservative agenda are able to “donate” funds to MMG in order for it to retain operational stability, and write off these funds as though they were being donated to the more legitimate “charities” or religiously affiliated groups we’re used to having described as such.

This situation is not unlike the American “political action committee” (PAC) techniques that are used by the extremely wealthy to give their philosophical approach to economic theory, practice and policies a wider range of publicity than other political affiliations or groups. Its effects, however, have even greater repercussions upon Canada’s electoral system in that essentially the Elections Act restricts persons from donating to political parties except during periods of campaigning. Thus, having a “charity” classification means that groups having such tax status can campaign indefinitely on behalf of Conservatives, even through periods of non-electoral campaign activity – and if that isn’t enough “irony” for one person to grasp in a single serving, DESPITE there being NO restriction as to when they may act as spokespersons for the Conservative Party, they must STILL provide Elections Canada with a list of their “donors” and amounts they “donated”, to a maximum value just slightly over $500,000 annually.

The political “voice” of MMG is Jeff Billingall, and its web page defines the company as being “recognized as leaders in Canadian digital public affairs and work[ing] extensively with leading North American firms to help clients change public opinion.” Prior to its current “Canada Proud” campaign, Billingall was instrumental in utilizing Ontario Proud’s social media presence to be used as a platform to relentlessly defame then Liberal premier Kathleen Wynne, and is widely credited for having Doug Ford elected premier as a result.

MMG maintains that the overwhelming “majority” of its political contributions come from individuals donating $200 or less towards its specific campaigns, but that statement is dangerously misleading. For instance, during the Ontario campaign, developers and contractors contributed more than $450,000 to Ontario Proud, and all of them are new seeking payback by pushing the Ford government to open up southern Ontario’s so-called “Green Belt” to new housing and developmental initiatives. As for the Canada Proud campaign, for which Billingall is responsible in providing content, over 40% of its funding comes from one source, Calgary based Coril Holdings Ltd and its CEO, R.N. Mannix, whose net worth (in Canadian funds) exceeds $3 billion, almost all of which has been derived from investments in the petroleum and coal markets or real estate development.

The tactics used by Canada Proud could legitimately be described as “bullying”, were it not for the fact that the commentary is directed specifically at Justin Trudeau and his government’s attempts with the NDP to provide safety nets for individuals and small businesses during the Covid pandemic. Having now passed into a new era wherein the majority of the public is trying to put the isolation and sense of frustration caused by this pandemic into some form of past tense, Canada Proud now exploits key factors arising from those three years to blame the Trudeau government for literally causing them to even exist.

Inflation, caused mostly by a virtual doubling of petroleum product costs as a reflection of the market’s reaction to the Russian – Ukraine conflict and supply chain management difficulties created from so many workers having work places undermanned due to critical outbreaks of the initial Covid-19 virus, are now apparently conditions he either created or somehow mismanaged, thus creating an unsustainable pressure upon the government’s ability to effectively manage its budgetary commitments. The remaining topics are just plain “personal”, attacking the way the PM walks, talks, with women whom he may now be “cheating on wife Sophie, how he relates to women in general and how he tolerates so-called Chinese “intervention” in somehow “assisting” the Liberals to hold onto seats that should have under other circumstances “should have gone to Conservatives” – all without legitimate proof or substantiation in actual fact, but “true”, nonetheless – at least from Canada Proud’s point of view.

Ironically, newspaper reports now suggest that even labour union members are starting to buy into the trash being pushed by Poilievre and his public relations agency, MMS / Canada Proud. The sobering fact that the labour unions themselves recognize that the propaganda Canada Proud is pushing is able to make available only is being funded by major non-union construction company alliances such as Merit Contractors Association of Canada, whose major “beef” comes from the fact that their respective firms preach “right to work” rhetoric that would essentially deprive workers of benefits derived from bargaining in good faith with employers whose primary concern is to protect the investment they have made in their working crews.

Thus, while the prevailing social media free-for-all created by MMG may be recruiting an almost fanatical base, it should be recognized by the NDP that in 2015, when Justin Trudeau finally decided to fight back against the condescending campaign being conducted by the Harper regime, by even momentarily deciding to attack Trudeau on similar grounds, that change essentially prevented Tom Mulcair from becoming the first NDP Prime Minister of Canada.

In Saskatchewan, I still believe that Poilievre’s Hate Campaign will lose its current attractiveness come 2025, and by that time voters in at least four Saskatchewan ridings will elect MP’s NOT from either of the Conservative or PPC caucus.

And yes, Don Morgan, I still have that $1,000 ready to bet against you choosing to believe otherwise.

Constant online bleating about Prime Minister wears thin

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I’m not really certain as to how many people are increasingly identifying with issues relating to anger control management that I am having at the moment, but I’m fairly certain that doctors, although not yet diagnosing such sentiment as “HAC”, will eventually have to start using the ICDA code “312” to explain the near rage I am now regularly feeling every time I listen to Pierre Poilievre try to tear another strip off Justin Trudeau.

Regular readers of my column know that the “Hate Agenda” the Conservatives have been campaigning upon ever since Justin Trudeau was elected as the federal Liberal Party leader is merely an extension of the mindset of Stephen Harper, whose first reaction to JT was to portray him as weak, inexperienced, and – naturally enough—the “son” of that “other” Trudeau, Pierre, most famously noted out here in the fly-over province as the Prime Minister who “dared” to rationalize Canada’s energy policies in the best interests of national security.

Recently, the Toronto Star’s Susan Delacourt wrote a column trying to explain why men, in particular, despise our PM. Not surprisingly, most of this negativity came from Alberta and Saskatchewan, where the columnist only alluded as to the real source of their anger, his “sex appeal” with women voters. This doesn’t surprise me in the least; I can remember the incident in his father’s term as PM where actress Barbara Streisand walked into the upper gallery of the Commons, and the moment she caught the eye of PET, pointed to her watch to indicate he was “late” for their date. It was seriously amusing, but for some reason male Conservative MP’s took offense with her appearance, calling it “inappropriate”.

These same political trolls have since used the stories underlying the father’s own public social life to denigrate the son. JT is supposed to “resemble” Fidel Castro (Margaret Trudeau allegedly had an affair with the Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger, so by extension she also must have “bedded” Mr. Castro, a close friend of the then PM’s), or that he had a sexual “liaison” with a 14-year old student while teaching “drama” in a private school (an allegedly “gay” pastime or the affectatious activity of Hollywood “celebrity nobodies”).

Unfortunately, sexually insecure men have a tendency to embrace such stupidities, even as women grow stronger in their political voice. By extension, then, JT is somehow then made to be portrayed as “responsible” for this increasing vigilance by women in standing up for their rights, and no longer willing to just “accept” of the male “natural right to govern in the majority”, much less impose upon the nation a more “liberal” immigration policy that threatens their “white” majority position as members of governing elites.

However, it’s this constant beating of the Conservative drum that portrays the Prime Minister as the “villain of choice” in these online social media postings that now weighs thin. The overwhelming application of revisionism to our political issues of the moment, particularly with regard to the recent “leaking” of confidential CSIS documentation suggesting that the Chinese government has been conducting an ominous campaign to “influence” the federal electoral process towards “voting Liberal” would have one believe that Conservatives are but the innocent victim of such foreign attempts at sabotage.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In 2012, following then PM “Chairman” (a title given to the PM by his own MP’s) Harper’s petroleum “deal” with Chinese business interests that saw their companies now having the right to sue governments for policies that might threaten their profitability, Chinese businessmen, particularly in Toronto ridings, flocked to be voted into positions in ten or more ridings previously held by Liberals.

As well, in 2010 the Harper government refused to allow PMO staff to testify before a complaint of “political interference” (i.e.: saying “no” to such a request) by a member of Cabinet, which Pierre Poilievre defended on the basis that such “testimony” would run counter to “300 years of Parliamentary practice and tradition.”

One wonders, of course, why “reasonable” Conservative MP’s would allow their personal reputations to be ravaged by the onslaught of propagandist nonsense that these Conservative PAC “bots” insist upon spewing to their audiences. For instance, our own MP, Randy Hoback, must surely now be embarrassed by how, in his electronic riding “Herald”, he basically portrayed Liberals as hiding behind trees in the forest, waiting for the farmer who must attend to the mutilated ewe now trying to give birth to the lamb her ram paramour begot within her before being devoured by coyotes, and for whom the farmer can no longer apply justice because that tree-hugging thief has now stolen his weapon of judicial application.

Still, as with having helped to defeat the Liberal’s “amendment” to gun ownership, the NDP has once again held the government to account by convincing the PM that his Chief of Staff Katie Telford should indeed testify on the Chinese “influencing crisis”. However, it shouldn’t take very long before another overly embellished “incident” will populate the banal offerings of Conservative PAC’s abusing Canadian electoral laws.

On Wednesday, Stephen Harper arose from his hiatus to tell a Conservative group in Ottawa that Mr. Poilievre shouldn’t let future political debates become “about him” but rather to “hold the government accountable for how it is running the country and making it wear its mismanagement, incompetence and corruption” – in other words, NOT tell voters how things should be different, and could be IF they were to form the next government, for fear of them waking up and actually beginning to think about their future.

Bill 88: ‘Necessary and Sufficient’ conditions as to why U of S should recall Bronwyn Eyre’s law degree

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Having watched the saga of the S.F.A. wending its way through the Marble Palace, and now seeing it become sanctioned into Saskatchewan law as Bill 88, I’m becoming even more worried as to what environmental concerns this bill might eventually wrought upon the province.

More worrisome, however, is the doggerel its contents contain. Once any Saskatchewan Party legal team fails to defend its very existence before Canada’s Supreme Court – and that most assuredly will happen – I’m worried its language will deteriorate the value of a University of Saskatchewan Law degree, which many of my friends and even former students now hold.

The many lawyers that closet themselves in isolated offices along Central Avenue shouldn’t take umbrage with my concern; in fact, my daughter holds one of these degrees. However, if you read the text finally crafted by our Minister of Justice, Bronwyn Eyre, you may now start to wonder as to how she even managed to argue a case in her Moot Court presentations, not to mention start speculating as to the various reasons she may have had in not following up on her degree by articling and then taking the Bar Exam. She has NEVER been a member of the Law Society of Saskatchewan, so the only question one needs ask Premier Moe is, “Why was she appointed Minister of Justice in the first place?”

It’s not hard to understand why it is that this Bill is receiving such flak, even before considering Ms. Eyre’s part in both drafting and then promoting its implementation. Bailey Sutherland provided one of Saskatchewan’s more comprehensive reports in the Bill’s passage in Thursday’s Herald. To even suggest that its opening statement, “The Sask. Party government is facing backlash from all sides following the passing of the Saskatchewan First Act…” is prejudicial to the government defies reality. The “Who’s Who” list of organizations lining up to condemn the Bill includes not only the NDP opposition, but every environmental group active in the province, various hunting and fishing outfitters, as well as the FSIN and Metis Nation – Saskatchewan.

Indigenous leaders simply believe that the provincial government has no legal standing in the Bill’s assertion to claim exclusive jurisdiction by the province over the economic exploitation of natural resources, much less deny their people access to the economic benefits derived from such activities. They have a point; the Treaties defining their rights over Saskatchewan lands were signed well before Saskatchewan became a member of the Confederation in 1905, and throughout the endless negotiations that have followed their implementation, the contention that the Treaties only intended to provide settlers to the lands to till the soil for agricultural purposes has never satisfactorily resolved in court. 

Equally egregious to First Nation leaders is the fact that the Natural Resources Transfer Act of 1930, passed so as to give Canada’s four western provinces jurisdiction of Crown lands and resources to the provinces did not include consultation with Indigenous leaders, which in itself makes the constitutionality of that Act itself questionable. Equally annoying to Indigenous leaders was that even when Section 92 of Canada’s Constitution was updated in 1982 to confirm transfer of such jurisdictional rights to the provinces, there was STILL disagreement as to whether these provinces even wanted to fully eliminate any form of federal involvement in such rights, which then begs the question: does Bill 88 merely state the obvious and as such is an innocuous piece of legislation that will have no effect whatsoever on matters particularly affecting resource management as now being practised in the province, or is it simply a propagandist piece of provincial oratory attempting to put the province on an “equal footing of power” with the federal government, which in a Confederation such governments have no right to claim unless offered by the central government itself?

Neither Premier Moe nor his Minister of Justice will attempt to answer this question, of course. Ms. Eyre’s response is particularly noteworthy for its mere mention of conflict existing between both levels of government; “This Act protects our province from constitutional overreach by the federal government,” a parroting of the premier’s oft-stated reason as to why the Bill is necessary, yet without actually “defining” HOW the federal government is “overreaching”.

Voters, however, are fully aware of economy realities that are confronting the Moe government, and for which they have no answer. Simply put, the province is broke, and there are no job prospects on the horizon save for those that might be possibly available should a resource-based company choose to develop a business profile in the province. In the past fifteen years, however, the government has seen how various governmental levels having chosen to limit public consultation has only succeeded in delaying the start-up of such business ventures and have now taken it upon themselves to place the “blame” for such delay upon the federal government’s so-called “unreasonable” demands for the protection of the land and citizen rights, thereby giving the companies proposing such development exactly what they want, thus prostituting the entire process for the “quick fix” of much needed jobs and tax relief to stem the existing bleeding of its budgetary deficit.

The reality is, there isn’t any enforceable way for the provincial government to simply deny the federal government a legal standing in any such development, particularly those involving the resource sector. When the federal government is brought into the project as a partnership, the province has no legal standing to deny them a say as to how that business shall be run. On the other hand, should some form of industrial or environmental catastrophe occur, be it even accidental in nature, the moment the environmental effects transcends jurisdictional boundaries, be it leakage from tailing ponds or oil spills affecting Indigenous lands, groundwater safety or even exportation of such damage into international jurisdiction (such as, say, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster, the Exxon Valdez spillage of oil into Prince William Sound, or even the fire that turned half of Fort McMurray into ashes, disrupting air quality in western Canada for days), the federal government will be involved, whether the province likes it or not.

What’s really disturbing about the pettiness that underlies the very reason for the existence of this Bill is that SHOULD there be a disaster coming from such development of any major consequence, not even the province of Ontario has the capacity to absorb the cost of rehabilitating environmental recovery without the assistance of the federal government.

In other words, Bill 88 is just Saskatchewan’s way of pretending it can win an economic fight with Ottawa, and establish its business practices without due regard to the concerns of others. As such, Ms. Eyre is attempting to produce something that means nothing, changes nothing and only results in our economic environment worsening over the remaining years we’re stuck with a Saskatchewan Party government.

Is Bill 88 really worth that much?

The 2024 Provincial Election Campaign has already begun – We just haven’t realized that as yet

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Just over a month ago, the Regina Leader-Post reported on the tragedy behind Scott Moe’s 1997 conviction for driving “without due care and attention” and causing an accident that resulted in Jo-Anne Balog losing her life. Last week, they reported on the resignation of Sheila Whelan, former provincial court judge and NDP party President who this week formally resigned that position, giving no reason for her making this move in a very short letter announcing her intentions. The Leader-Post shows no compunction as to which of our major parties their willing to cover if there’s a “newsworthy” story there, and that’s their job. The problem here is, the Sask Party trolls who try to twist this latest story into being just another sign from God that the NDP, even after twelve years of being in exile and now under a new leader in Carla Beck STILL can’t agree upon what stance they should take in the upcoming 2024 election.

Ms. Whelan no doubt foresaw the inevitability of this story eventually being told, but it’s this “Gotcha” mentality endemic in Sask Party adherents that continues to irk my sense of fair play. Following the Leadership vote last year, various media “personalities” benignly concluded that the election of Carla Beck as NDP leader indicated that the party was moving the party towards a more “centrist” approach, while rejecting any idea that Kaitlyn Harvey’s stark “here are the facts” take on climate change and environmental destruction were being well received by party membership.

An Op-Ed piece I wrote for another paper attempted to highlight the extremely positive response given Kaitlyn Harvey’s “it’s about bloody well time we acted” truisms by all delegates, especially those under the age of 25. Equally impressive was the warmth given Ms. Beck’s daughter when she introduced her mother to the leadership’s attendees. This radically contrasts with the approach taken by the Sask Party that climate change and environmental destruction are topics of interest only to “left-leaning, woke propagandists” and “progressive extremists”. Our CHILDREN, on the other hand, already know just how dangerous this neglect will have on their futures, which is why Ms. Harvey and Carla Beck’s daughter could potentially become “star candidates” for the NDP in 2024. Their “draw” would not only assure the party of a resurgence in youth membership, but also give the party’s so-called “Old Guard” assurance that everyone with a membership card is finally on the same page and determined to defeat the SP.

What makes this story regarding Ms. Whelan’s resignation such a “Gotcha” piece, however, is that the “attack line” Sask Party trolls will take upon reading it is that it “insinuates” that there is already some form of “rebellion” fomenting against Ms. Beck’s leadership talents. The SP would like nothing better to do than direct voters’ attention away from the reality that they’ve just gone through two years of Hell dealing trying to follow with the questionable directives given by the Moe government towards Covid concerns that did nothing save give this province the highest “per capita” death rate in Canada from the virus. Equally alarming is the fact that Premier Moe is all but applying shoe polish to the boots of the Carbon Convoy’s thuggish leadership, while Nadine Wilson’s collection of Karens now operating with clashing priorities under the banner of a soon to become extinct “United” party STILL can’t come to terms with the reality that the 2024 election is going to be fought on only one front – which party can best extract our economy from its black hole spiral and finally diversify our economy for BOTH rural and urban voters.

Where did this myth come from that the Sask Party has some form of “advantage” over the NDP in a campaign focusing upon economic issues? Is the Sask Party’s “pro-business” approach more effective due to its “capitalistic orientation”? Is the NDP “against jobs” because it wants to redirect the economy towards “green” initiatives? Is “partial privatization” of health care going to clear up our elective surgery backlog? Is federal “interference” in our environmental legislation deterring the government from attracting business to Saskatchewan? Are our Crowns no longer necessary? Or after the NDP digging the province out of the Devine budget sinkhole STILL not destroy the notion that the party is just too “tax and spend” for your pocketbook? Let’s try to answer these questions by taking stock of our current economic “reality”.

First, balancing the budget is no longer a solution to our economic malaise; our deficit is already a black hole when compared with the Devine fiasco. Two premiers, Brad Wall and Scott Moe, have turned their most loyal supporters, small farming operations, into its biggest victims, no longer capable of fighting back when Big Ag ignores even the most trivial of contractual obligations such as taking delivery of product “on time” or being less willing to pay fair value for their crops.

When it comes to finding monies necessary to fund the province’s basic needs, the SP’s reliance upon a “royalty stream” coming from our non-renewable resources is already a non-starter. When Putin’s “war” with Ukraine finally ends and his government collapses, our petroleum royalty spigot will dry up faster than the fields of central Saskatchewan during the drought-plagued 2021 crop year. They are literally giving away our future wealth in negotiations involving royalty payments with emerging rare earth mineral mining entrepreneurs only too eager to harvest our abundances, even promising interested parties that their insane S.F.A bill will “protect” them from future “unwarranted federal incursion forcing” them to just clean up after themselves.

When it comes to the NDP’s understanding of health care issues, five simple changes would greatly help in clearing up the backlog of elective surgeries, not to mention put a halt to creeping privatization of some MediCare services: start using the O.R. facilities more in the evening and overnight, raise the maximum number of procedures a surgeon can perform in any given period from a number to the number of hours he/she works per week, increase the evening hour pay rates for nurses to encourage them to come back and work in the field for which they’ve been properly trained, utilize nearby larger community hospital bed space (e.g.: Shellbrook) to provide post-operative care after reasonable recovery and the operating facility and CONSOLIDATE elective surgery lists so that if one jurisdiction has extra free operating times, patients could be transported in from other jurisdictions.

As for questions concerning our Crowns, here’s a “spoiler alert”: their contribution to balancing the budget is 2% HIGHER than all of the corporations registered in Saskatchewan, combined.

Calling the NDP the “tax and spend” party is a phrase only a Scott Moe or Brad Wall could say with a straight face. We’ve had this government increase the provincial sales tax jurisdiction on among other things, restaurant meals, insurance policies and housing construction labour costs. We STILL don’t know where the SP spent the $400 million the federal government gave the province to help clean up our abandoned oil drilling sites, and have even less knowledge as to where the “spare change” the feds will be giving provinces to help pay for increasing health care costs will be spent.

In sum, ALL of these points amount to there being a debate needed as to what direction the province should head going into 2024 and beyond. Therefore, let’s just get this election campaign out from under the table as is the case now. Voters know what’s happening; we just need the politicians to admit to the facts as well.

The many faces of ‘gaslighting’

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By now, anyone who spends any time on social media has seen the term “gaslighting” being used more and more when arguing “content”.
Most such posts do so by rebutting what is perceived as disinformation (e.g.: mRNA vaccines and their ineffectiveness in protecting individuals from Covid) while trying to present substantive fact to online debate. However, since most people on social media are only there to offer their opinion, whether informed or not, our ability to discern truth from fantasy is becoming increasingly strained.
Gaslighting has long been used as a psychological weapon to confuse an individual into questioning their powers of reasoning or even their sanity, the end game being to have the victim becoming the spokesperson of the person perpetuating such doubt. Covid examples abound. For instance, persons having already received fully vaccination yet still become ill by the virus may start to wonder whether it was even necessary to be vaccinated in the first place, when their infection was obviously the result of a mutation of the original virus such as XBB.1.5 Omicron, a much less virulent form that spreads more rapidly because it’s trying to “escape” the human antibodies that one’s body has developed to constrain the original viral form.
Unfortunately, because society has grown accustomed to trusting doctors, we are currently failing to identify the so-called “scrip pushers” – physicians who have in the past written prescriptions for drugs such as valium to keep “mother” from going crazy to OxyContin for pain relief and eventual addiction. Today, such practices are gullibly accepted by an uneducated population distrusting mRNA vaccines, yet oblivious in some “ironic” Alanis Morissette way of accepting newer Tylenol pain derivatives that relieve Covid symptoms, yet were developed through the usage of mRNA technology advancement.
Unfortunately, gaslighting techniques are now being used by our corporate sector. Even in Friday’s Herald the CTF’s Gage Haubrich offered up such research nonsense in presenting an almost fanciful Beach Boys “Wouldn’t it be nice” interpretation as to “why” Saskatchewanians should be forever grateful that our Minister of Coin, Donna Harpauer believes she will be capable of balancing the forthcoming provincial budget – thereby diminishing interest paid on our provincial debt and – eventually – leading to a decline of at least 1% in our PST rate.
Left out of Haubrich’s unicorn rationale is the fact only the province’s corporate sector will benefit from such action; to the consumer, one per cent doesn’t even account for expected moderate inflationary pressures. What it does do, however, is highlight the stupidity of the government still trying to prioritize the sale of our Crowns to private ownership, as they’re now doing with the SLGA, while promoting the establishment of a Saskatchewan-controlled corporate taxation entity to further lower the corporate contribution to provincial budgetary needs, ALL while failing to inform the public that this sector already provides a miniscule five per cent to this fund, whereas the CROWN sector yields OVER seven per cent.
We already know that the Minister of Coin can’t issue cheques for children to help parents deal with our current inflationary malaise because she’s lost the Minister of Health’s number to find out how many children live in Saskatchewan. Moreover, we’re STILL waiting to find our what the Sask. Party did with the $400 million the feds gave the province to assist in the clean-up of abandoned oil drill exploration sites. Add to this list the fact that there isn’t even ONE health care district in the province that doesn’t need more doctors and trained health care professionals, and I have to ask: how much longer does the Russia-Ukraine conflict have to go on before Saskatchewan finally diversifies its economy?
Last week I pointed out how, despite having promised the La Loche community a new elementary school, the community will have to raise some $100,000 to provide simple kitchen facilities to fulfil its public purpose of being the centre of support for the community in times of crisis and celebration. NOW, however, that amount has gone up by another $300,000, as the province left out of its estimation the purchase of playground equipment and gym equipment. Another northern community, Sandy Bay, was looking forward to having improvements made to its own school, only to find out that the walls of the school are filled with asbestos insulation, which means costly removal of the contaminant and a total rebuilding of the structure – but not capable of being accommodated in the budget before 2027. Finally, the Moe government is promising new public housing units to be built in several northern communities, but the rent that the province will be charging will exceed almost 85 per cent of normal social assistance funding.
I’m going to leave my last comments respecting gaslighting being used by the Sask Party until next week; first, however, I’m going to ask readers who might be interested in what I have to say to go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1o8K3DNBjM and watch the YouTube video of this past Wednesday’s “information session” detailing the reasons as to “why” it is now reasonable for Orano to be allowed to decommission the former Cluff Lake uranium mine site.
While watching, please keep these facts in mind:
• the half life of uranium decay is 4.5 BILLION years
• the tailing ponds are only covered with 1 to 2 meters of crushed rock and located on muskeg land
• hunters have recently found their game having bladder systems radioactively contaminated from having drank at the exposed tailing ponds
• a dam that is supposed to forever protect tailing pond seepage from reaching surrounding lakes and rivers is constructed from materials that will eventually decay, and
• crushed rock used for fill does NOT prevent groundwater seepage
If ever there was the need for PUBLIC consultation with First Nations leaders, this is “it”. The entire presentation allowed for NO public input (microphones on our computers were muted by the organizers), and only THREE extremely selective questions were answered by the presenters in the last six minutes of an almost EXACTLY one hour “consultative” presentation.
Should the site be decommissioned? Most certainly, but for the government to ask Orano for peanuts as they did with similar closures in Uranium City (around $250,000) leaves taxpayers, Mr. Haubrich’s “friends”, ending up with a potential to lose untold millions should even a minor disaster occur on this site.
Perhaps the premier feels that because they have a northern MLA, he’s “reaching out” to northern communities. Good luck with that thought; I didn’t even see Mr. Lemaigre’s name listed as having logged into Wednesday’s “information session”.

Pandering support for Sask Party policies ‘a clear and present danger’ for the north

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On Jan. 22, 2016, La Loche high school student Randan Fontaine came to school armed. Before the end of the day, four people would die at his hands, and another seven would be seriously wounded. Several days after that, Brad Wall flew into the community for a brief photo “op”, took a few minutes of his time to meet with select members of the community, offered up his “prayers and thoughts” draped in its standard political hypocrisy, then uttered the words, “There are seeds of hope that have been planted even in this week…there need be and can be more support from governments… that will represent seeds of hope.” Less than two hours later, he was gone.

Six years later, what Wall promised back then – the “more support from governments” – can roughly be translated to mean only one “government”, that being the federal one, and even there, the response was slow in coming.

A year after the shooting acting Principal Greg Hatch summarized the community’s feelings towards Wall’s promise to walk with the community with these words: “We feel alone…we feel abandoned.” 

There is little wonder in understanding why his words were laden with profound regret. Three social workers, none of whom are trained in addressing mental health concerns were added to the health region’s work force, while a psychiatric nurse was also recruited to deal with health concerns of all the 3,000 or more residents of the immediate and surrounding communities – this within a health region where the number of children regularly attempting to commit suicide is at extreme levels, the local women’s shelter is almost always full, and gang violence being fueled by resentment, alcohol and drugs dominate community highlights on any given day. 

Given that the Sask Party has done nothing to relieve the economic isolation of the community, one has to wonder why it is that La Loche appears to now be flying the flag of convenience of this political disease. There still is no bank in the village, not even a credit union. The economic centre of oil exploration, Fort McMurray, is less than 80 km away from town, but only accessible by winter road because the government has refused to spend the $17 million necessary to build a bridge spanning a wannabe river to allow access to job opportunities in the oil fields. Most of the businesses in town are either owned by non-resident carpetbaggers or merchants trying to eke out an existence where even to get a bucket of chicken on a Friday night for a kids’ treat starts somewhere just shy of $75 a barrel. 

Given these circumstances, one has to ask the question: WHY in HELL would Athabasca riding elect Sask Party candidate Jim Lemaigre to replace long-serving former MLA Buckley Belanger as their representative?

I have no idea as to what truly drives Mr. Lemaigre to claim any right to represent that riding. Although he is a member of the Clearwater River Dene Nation located on the outskirts of La Loche, he and his family have mostly lived in Prince Albert, and his riding office is in Buffalo Narrows, 100 km to the south of La Loche. During the last election on the CRDN, he ran for Chief, only to be defeated by current incumbent Ted Clarke. More to the point, having retired as an RCMP officer and not even having lived in the region for other large chunks of his life, one wonders how it is that he can even understand the major social concerns of the region?

Throughout his provincial campaign, Mr. Lemaigre constantly described himself as “pro-business”, while maintaining that economic opportunities exist within the north, if people would only take advantage of their occurrence. What he fails to understand, however, is that such “opportunities” have come at the expense of his own people.

For instance, up to and including the Devine years, it was not uncommon for local bars to be up-sold on the basis of the number of units of liquor, mostly beer, consumed on a nightly basis in that establishment. The “problem” there was two-fold; first, many of outlets refused to cut individuals off despite their obvious succumbing to a state of drunkenness, while RCMP officers doing regular tours near these establishments were finding repeat offenders, the majority of abusers behind the wheel of a half-ton, regularly blowing rates of 0.45 or higher, while those leaving the bars without transportation and transported back to either RCMP cells or a hospital bed could blow rates even higher than that. 

Under currently existing legislation such establishments were more carefully policed by the SLGA. Now, however, the SLGA is being downgraded to nothing more than a name on a warehouse where the government stores all liquor and beer prior to outlet sales.

The plan to privatize all liquor outlets is now re-introducing the prospect of going “gung ho” in maximizing sales as merchants put profit before the law by increasing sales to minors and having no restrictions as to “how much” should be sold to whomever, whether they be bootleggers or gang members transporting product into so-called “dry reserves”. These factors can only have adverse effects upon the province’s already overstretched police forces, not to mention creating more social strife on reserves. 

If this is the Sask. Party’s vision in creating “business opportunities” for the north, several of Lemaigre’s fellow Indigenous peoples who have lived through past experiences with alcoholic beverages and dealt with increased violence levels, particularly those inflicted upon women and children, should be seriously disagreeing with the honourable MLA for Athabasca. 

What is truly mind-bending, however, is the almost deadly silence coming from the Indigenous corridors of power. In particular, the FSIN, who waited almost three weeks before releasing a statement condemning the S.F.A..

The sickening aspect of all of this manipulation of public sentiment is that the Moe government, knowing full well that northern municipalities have been among the hardest hit during this pandemic, is waving its new oil wealth derived from the Russia-Ukraine war, all while failing to provide any hope as to creating infrastructural changes in the north that could lead them out of the economic wilderness. And just what is Jim Lemaigre’s stance on these issues? Your guess is as good as mine… 

Scott Moe continues his embracing of faux-masculine politics

Given my particular age (78) and my propensity to ask my wife what day it is, I am baffled by the path the current Saskatchewan Party is following (or forging) in the Marble Palace. Am I missing something here, or are these events actually occurring?

• We’re in a situation at the moment where hospital waiting rooms are filling up and patient beds are becoming as scarce as those proverbial hen’s teeth. The province is only now starting its campaign to “recruit nurses” – in the Philippines, no less, thus continuing past practices we’ve employed with doctors in raiding the health wellness trained resources of one of the poorer nations on Earth that at least had the foresight to train its own citizens with the meager fiscal resources of their own government, and

• While it will take some time for such persons to both come to Saskatchewan and “acclimatize” to the province, our hospital problems only get worse as we are “hit” with a triple whammy of SEASONAL maladies, flu and RSV (syncytial virus), duly accompanied by yet another strain of Covid-19 sating its appetite upon the very young, and

• Due to our propensity of late to accept online versions of reality versus life in the increasingly crowded corridors of our hospitals, and what with uneducated “helicopter” parents accepting disinformation as to the effectiveness and “dangers” to children in getting the Covid vaccine (not to mention the ones – mumps, measles, rubella, smallpox and polio that we’ve been immunizing our children with for decades), thereby increasing the very young and innocent being exposed to such maladies (which is now being documented as occurring in increasing numbers), and

• Since these illnesses are ALL viruses, antibiotic treatment is useless as a “cure”, yet until yesterday (Friday) most of our pharmacies were without even the basic pain treatment remedies that could alleviate the suffering occurring in our ailing children, including baby Tylenol – which, ironically, was produced as a “safe” product years ago and created through the usage of m-RNA technology, thus, 

• We ask: WHAT actions are also being taken by the provincial government to IMMEDIATELY address medical staff shortages?

Please note that we’ve failed at the moment to address a more serious and consequential question, that being, WHY is it that we’re losing so many health care workers in the first place, and why isn’t the government working on a plan to actually RETAIN them?

Saskatchewan Union of Nurses President Tracy Zambory, while acknowledging the ethical dilemma of our recruiting health care workers from Third World nations, knows that her membership would throw massive “Welcome to Your New Home” parties for anyone who chooses to come to Canada under such circumstance if it meant occasional relief from typical 60 hour work weeks and double shifting. 

What the membership wants, however, is to have a thoroughly incompetent Minister of Health, Paul Merriman, actually draw up a committee of field advisory staff to go to the “front lines” of this fight and CONSULT with nurses, beginning with committing greater resources towards education and training of more recruits.

Thus, having been given a key strategy for tackling this issue, what does Scott Moe propose to deal with its sensibility? Well, in a statement on Thursday widely reported in the Toronto Sun, then restated on his Twitter account he noted that “The Trudeau Liberals aren’t even hiding it anymore, they are coming for hunting rifles and shotguns.”

Wait – WHAT?

As I have intimated in previous columns, the premier’s interests in dealing with issues about which the NDP have more than an ample amount of evidence to point to areas of concern and how to deal with them is literally non-existent. A list similar to what I developed at the start of this column could equally be provided when it comes to the major issues facing provincial educators.

The problem here is that with the extremely contagion rates of the three viruses now causing strain on our health care system, there has to be some manner of “control” exercised in minimizing the potential for distress. The simplest way to deal with that problem is that, at a minimum, at least ask students coming to classes to wear masks. That, of course, would be in turn misrepresented as an enforceable “mandate” (even though a lot of students are already doing just that, especially the younger ones). It would be immediately opposed by the yahoos who support the fringe element of the political spectrum – the Buffalo Party, Maverick Party and the Peoples Party of Canada (not to mention Harper apostle and current Conservative Party leader, Pierre Poilievre) as some mythical violation of their ego-enlarged “freedoms”. 

The Sask Party believes such voters are theirs by fiat. Therefore, to avoid being mocked as merely advocating for policies pandering to this collection of misfits, they are seeking “alternative” pathways I refer to as “Chicken Little” to deny the obvious.

The whining about the amendments now occurring with Bill C-21 changes and their reference to assault weaponry are almost comical in that it again reinforces the Sask Party’s fixation with the faux-“manhood” concerns of fighting for a “strong Saskatchewan”. What better manner is there to re-instill the faith in the party’s governing prowess than to be pictured as grasping onto an issue of obvious masculine appeal as the guns used by everyone for hunting or pest control – and pointing their “weaponry” now in the direction of the federal Liberal Party?

Most such policy pronouncements of late promoted by the government have their roots in the reaping of vast rewards caused by the Ukraine – Russia conflict through royalty payments. The party has thus invested much in the creating of the Saskatchewan First Act, its only purpose being to grant further powers to the legislature to stop the federal government from interfering in its exploitation of our non-renewable resources and supposed federal “overreach” – powers it already has under our Constitution. 

Police associations have also condemned the setting up of the Saskatchewan Marshals Service, preferring that such monies instead by directed towards expansion of existing law enforcement forces and training specifically designed to handle the types of investigatory services such a force would be expected to perform.

Faux-masculine grasping or the production of non-content in proposed legislation that confirms the existence of a gravitational vacuum in the legislature is only my way of introducing a gallows sense of humour as to the direction in which the Saskatchewan Party wants to move this province. The problem is, given the current unpopularity of Premier Moe and his party and the direction being taken by their policy agenda, one can only wonder if the actual victim of such policies will become a stifling of democratic freedoms and the ability of our citizens to redirect us away from this dangerous creep towards autocracy.

I’m tired of racialized priorities – how about you?

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Regular readers of this column know some of the stories as to why the topic of “racism” overly concerns me, whether it’s an incident in Maple Creek where a future student threw a green apple at me, barely missing my daughter, and calling me a “squaw man” for even carrying her in a child tote harness, or having a Saskatoon police officer try to pull a gun on me for protecting an Indigenous friend from being arrested under false pretenses, the events don’t really matter. The question is, WHY do people, especially the young (INCLUDING that officer) behave in such fashion?
The answer to that question is surprisingly simple: people react to events that affect only them, and in the process blinding them to the distinct probability that the underlying premise feeding such events is a socially ingrained malady being constantly fed by the failure of governments to “find a cure” for such ills – and especially when we, society in general, must pay heavily for the finding of such solutions.
My initial blindness to the effect of racial tension upon today’s society regrettably begins as a student. My own high school years lacked any historical connection to our common sharing of past experiences with Indigenous leadership. Even when I first started my Master’s thesis research in 2004, I had literally no idea as to what people were talking about whenever the phrase, “residential school experience”, was mentioned.
My first Indigenous students in Quebec were almost all academic scholars who could speak four different languages fluently, and whose names took up over half of the school’s Honour Roll. When I took a temporary position at a BC, Nuxalk-run school in 2003, there was no let-up in academic endeavour. Students would flawlessly write exam papers until they obtained a pass mark, fearing that a high mark would get friends calling them a “teacher’s pet.” Grade 12 students regularly destroyed so-called “tough” provincial exams, and attendance issues never surfaced as an “issue” for discussion during staff meetings.
The wake-up call I received next was hard to take. In 2004 I transferred to a public school located on Vancouver Island on Nuu Chah Nulth reserve land. Here was a school without make-up, victimized by its own scarring from the ravages imposed upon it by its adult population having all undergone hideous abuse while attending residential school. 
The Principal, a “born again Christian”, was reviled for his regular abuse of students, with the school board seemingly unwilling or incapable of removing him. The year previous, he’d harassed the former Chief’s daughter to the point where she lashed back in fury, only to have herself expelled for the rest of the year. On the weekend following, she had committed suicide, hanging herself while dressed in what was to be her graduation gown.
It never occurred to me that this event would later have its effect upon my own teaching experiences at the school. Unfortunately, I would later find out that three senior students had, with the ex-Chief’s daughter, signed a “suicide pact” to be honoured on the anniversary of her death. One such student was in my Grade 12 classes, and when she started going through the emotional trauma of readying herself to die, a student begged me to intervene. 
Having taken previous training in suicide prevention programs, I did what I would have assumed any teacher would have done in similar circumstances – I intervened. Two hours later, after having an extended conversation with a sobbing mother thanking me for convincing her daughter to change her mind, I was called to the Principal’s office, where I was handed a disciplinary notice advising that he would seek my dismissal for my having “counselled a student without holding a BC-recognized certificate”. 
The overwhelming majority of my students have always trusted me to listen to their concerns, because from their point of view I was never perceived as the teacher who would shut up, say nothing that was politically incorrect and let administrators do their job – because many have only attained such positions by being highly adept at being politicians themselves, and therefore either don’t – or won’t – perform their duties whenever there is a risk of negative public reaction. 
Several examples stand out in a career spanning some 21 of my last 40 years, such as my propensity to tell “helicopter parents” to stop enabling their kids’ lack of respect for the learning process. Such discussion is usually followed up by my being “visited” by the school’s “concerned” Principal or a school board official that just happened to be a neighbour of that parent.
Reporting an assault on a student, particularly one of a sexual nature, is even more challenging. Despite our teacher’s Code of Conduct requiring us to immediately report such incidents to school authorities and the police, in the three incidents that I personally documented, NO police file was ever opened or even made known to local police.
Let’s stop kidding ourselves; if even educators are hesitant to morally and correctly respond to the problems being created within a population of students whose own social reactions are primarily triggered by worrying about potential violence and a future of economic and social malaise, and they in turn are parented by persons misdirecting their own rage at the school in general instead of the political instrument that created residential regimens, why does the Moe-led government now insist prior to our upcoming 2024 election, upon blaming these kids for their allegedly “creating” the mythical crime wave he’s now introducing as potentially “solvable” by quack legislation such as the Saskatchewan First Act?
The irony here is that so-called “white” kids share the same political concerns as do their Indigenous twins: the increasingly violent weather patterns induced by climate change, wondering why their skin colour is the only factor in determining their eventual social status and employability, or even being able to afford continuing their education beyond the 24 credit “fundamental graduate requirement” so as to be able to compete in emerging and diverse economic markets.
But the Sask Party doesn’t listen to adults, either. Now we’ve reached the point where we’re literally begging him to sit down and consider the ideas formulated by our offspring, but the only reaction we’re getting is that we’re just “forcing” these kids to think as “lefties”, “commies” and worst of all – Libs or Dippers? Good luck, Chicken Little…
Such a transformation of thought that would require the Party’s male leadership to give its head a clear and conscious shake.

The Conservative “Leadership” race and its appeal to the ignorant

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Prior to August 26th, if one of my friends had asked me if I’d ever heard of someone named “Elliot McDavid”, I most likely would have said “No”, and followed it up with some cutting wisecrack as to my friend spending too much time on the Edmonton Oilers web site and Ancestry.com tracing the lineage of his favourite players. Now, I not only know who this man is, but am beginning to wonder when Canadians in general are going to realize that, unlike our previous friendly condescension of American politics and values, we now have as many know-nothing “intellectuals” spouting nonsense and assaulting our sense of free speech as does the Donald Trump rendition of the Republican Party.
For those of you not aware of this thug’s “history”, on that very Friday, just as Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland was walking into an elevator in Grande Prairie’s City Hall for a meeting with the Mayor, McDavid entered the lobby, shouted her name, then proceeded to verbally abuse her, shouting among other things, “What the f* are you doing in Alberta? You fing traitor; fing bitch; get the f* out of the province.”
Were this to have happened to ANY woman in, say, a sleepy and deeply religious rural community such as Premier Moe’s own Rosthern, this man would now be facing assault charges and possibly being confined to the local Crowbar Hotel until trial. However, this is Alberta, where the currently governing United Conservative Party is having its own leadership race to replace Jason Kenney, whose own jingoistic political verbiage and that of the candidates to replace him, Danielle Smith and Brian Jean, continue to insinuate that Ottawa is the one true enemy of an Alberta striving to attain economic and social justice for its belaboured and constantly harangued citizenry.
“The Tyee” investigative reporter Charles Rusnell recently and brilliantly described this sickening tactic being used by the political right, “rage farming”, to enhance their political standings. Out here in the fly-over province we have a premier busily trolling the fertile waters of the rebranded “Carbon Convoy” thanking them for their continued support in creating humiliating scenarios for the federal government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Empowered by an increased but temporary oil royalty stream created by the war between Russia and Ukraine, they have now announced that such manna will be shared by all of our “taxpaying” subjects in the form of $500 cheques – bribing us with our own money.
The outcome of our ingesting this nonsense of historical misinterpretation is that now the political process becomes a Petri dish of deviant opportunity to portray those whose thoughts do not follow the same logical pathway as our own in a less favourable continuum. If this platform script does not immediately lead to victory, we now no longer criticize the platform from which we preached its potential value, but instead challenge the sermon that delivered its message – and it is THIS form of inverted and illogical thinking that now leaves Canada’s conservative voices to, for the THIRD time in less than five years, trying to install Pierre Poilievre as the reincarnation of the former, much despised Prime Minister Stephen Harper. 
It was Harper’s “manifest destiny” to turn the Liberal Party of Canada into an irrelevancy. In 2015 he attempted to deliver his coup de grace to an immature and thoroughly unprepared newly elected leader, Justin Trudeau, by ridiculing his potential weakness to not only understand Liberal policy objectives, but implement them to the satisfaction of Canadian voters. He failed – miserably so, simply because the tactic sickened Canadian voters who were growing tired of Harper’s own arrogance. By Poilievre continuing today to preach this message of contempt plagiarized from Harper, he is assuring us that Canada will have NO prime minister in this country for at least the next 10 years that is NOT a Liberal.
From Russnel’s perspective, McDavid is the perfect pawn spreading Poilievre’s message, for he exudes no philosophy to call his own. Ms. Freeland is “selling out the country”. How – by failing to acknowledge the loss of invisible “rights” to which Saskatchewan’s “Karen” Party perceive as incontrovertibly “lost” to Canadians, and whose nonsense Saskatchewan Rivers MLA Nadine Wilson now wants to give voice? And are his thoughts about the alleged thousands upon thousands of children who allegedly are dead from receiving an anti-Covid vaccine more “real” than the actual thousands of such graves being interred on the grounds of Canada’s former residential schools?
Mr. McDavid is no intellectual giant; he merely feeds his mind with the droppings of an extreme right movement that believes “change”, no matter how good for ourselves, our nation or our planet, must be violently opposed. He is not alone, and more to the point, his unhinged “maleness” does not just mean that we should just be focusing our attention upon the violence projected in his attack against Freeland.
Why aren’t we also calling into question the behaviour of the woman who ACCOMPANIED McDavid as he verbally abused Ms. Freeland, ending his diatribe by saying, “You’re not welcome here,” then snapping a picture of the women huddling in fear in the City Hall’s elevator, waiting for someone to rescue them from this ordeal? To many of my women friends, the very idea of this picture eventually ending up on some page of an extremist dark web site – which it will – is as psychologically damaging as intimate pictures of themselves meeting the same end.
McDavid may be all that he is ascribed to be: misogynist, bully, coward, brainwashed, unthinking follower, and contemptuous of the evolution in defining human rights, but the term “incel” does not apply to this couple’s behaviour. He is but part of a movement that feeds on perceived slights, and is supplemented in his violent psychological weaponry by women in a political war about which most Canadians know nothing about and have no idea what its effects may be should this “side” win.
Unfortunately, Mr. Poilievre knows that people aren’t listening to what he is really saying as opposed to what it is that he’s attacking. And unfortunately, that makes him and the soulmates who will vote for this intellectual imposter even more dangerous than either McDavid and his female partner ever could hope to be.

Sask. Party’s unwillingness to change economic direction will hurt province more than Trudeau

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Anyone who is a political junkie now knows that during this past week the FBI conducted an extensive search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. The intention was to retrieve government documents that Trump had squirreled away from the White House and Oval Office, and which rightfully should have been turned over to the historical records section of the Library of Congress.
Republicans first reacted to the search as being nothing more than an out-of-control Biden administration deliberately using the American judicial system as a weapon targeting a former political adversary, Donald Trump, who two years later is still peddling the myth that he actually won the 2020 presidential race, and is even now seriously thinking of re-running for the Presidency in 2024. Six weeks ago when inflation was hitting the 8 per cent barrier, gas prices were at a premium, Roe v Wade had just been overturned and there were still widespread delays holding back inventory restocking and product shortages, Republicans held a strategic advantage in political sway over a Biden administration that couldn’t get any reasonable legislation through Congress, and seemed destined to retake the majority in the House of Representatives in the upcoming mid-term elections.
Six weeks ago when Trump was no longer the major headline in virtually every political story in the U.S., Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was gaining traction for a run as a presidential candidate, ironically utilizing the hate-mongering rhetoric of white persecution, critical race theory influence upon historical reality, transgender rights denial and “woke” school teachers failing to teach students about “the real America”. Now he sullenly awaits on the sidelines as the media treats him as an afterthought to Trump, and the various and sundry knuckle dragging members of America’s extremist groups “lock and load” in preparation for what they see as the civil war that must be fought in order for their “rights to be restored.” 
Meanwhile, Biden’s ratings are now soaring, as inflation is now rapidly receding, gas prices are coming down as Russia’s campaign against Ukraine appears to be stalling, and now Congress has passed two bills, one dealing (only on a minor level, though) with strengthening gun control legislation, while the Senate has finally found a majority willing to pass an extensive budget (again, well pared down below progressive membership expectations) to address climate change, prescription drug prices and simple tax reform.
Here in Canada, our conservative factions were using the same weaponry, firearms, inflation and supply chain management issues to pillory the federal Liberals led by PM Justin Trudeau. Here, however, these problems were increasingly being dwarfed by a post-Covid pandemic cataclysm that has seen our health care systems laid to waste by nurse and doctor burn-out, massive resignations and the closures of various medical emergency services that serve as the heartbeat of our health care delivery. Compounding these troubling issues, we have seen the three premiers in Canada who had until recently prioritized the federally implemented “carbon tax” as their number one concern – Ontario’s Doug Ford, Alberta’s Jason Kenney and Saskatchewan’s Scott Moe – see their systems having crashed the most in attempting to serve public needs. 
In an effort to maintain a foothold in its voter base, the Saskatchewan Party and Premier Moe have further enraged public sentiment by formulating policies that pander to the factions of hard right voters supporting among other things the Freedom Convoy assault upon Ottawa and the self-serving efforts of a still powerful petroleum lobby. Moe and Kenney in particular have been gainfully assisted in their choosing to maintain focus upon the infrastructure of Big Oil by the seemingly endless rising of crude oil prices that have allowed their provincial budgets to increase royalty payment for product extraction. 
Saskatchewan in particular continues to face a future in which the relative value of the petroleum industry will wane as the after-effects of climate change expose our rural community’s inability to adapt agricultural practices necessary to help continue to feed our planet’s now-population of more than 8 billion people. Equally ironic, we continue to embrace an economic system whose level of success is only measured by its ability to expand production levels and resource exploitation, and discrepancy in the distribution of wealth between the richest and poorest among us has only ever attained such a gap during the era of the French Revolution in the late 1700’s.
Voters in Saskatchewan are slowly yet surely turning their attention towards what needs to be done to correct the economic direction of this province, not to mention restore the integrity of a health care system this province helped to shape for the nation. Premier Moe’s popularity is now at a level only moderately better than that of our Prime Minister, of whom Moe desperately continues to point fingers at as being the primary source of our various failings. More to his chagrin, this stubborn unwillingness to change our economic direction is resulting in MLA’s in many regions of this province now considering their futures as politicians as the 2024 election approaches, and none so than here in the Prince Albert region.
Were you to have come into Prince Albert along Highway 3 coming from Birch Hills, Melfort or Muskoday, you would have noticed a change in the billboards advertising for the Saskatchewan Party. A billboard once featuring Prince Albert MLA’s Joe Hargrave and Alana Ross locked in sweet embrace with the premier in a sign of machismo “strength” is gone, replaced by the now lonely features of former Minister of almost everything that could impede economic promise for the north, that being Mr. Hargrave. 
With Hargrave’s “California Dreaming” adventures over last year’s trip during a major Covid crisis, it was already written somewhere that he wasn’t going to be able to sustain another attempt at remaining MLA for Prince Albert Carleton, and has probably already given his notice to the Party’s Executive. Ms. Ross, on the other hand, has never been given any opportunity to project a meaningful presence in the policies being offered by the provincial government.
When combined with Nadine Wilson’s embracing the vote of our “Karen” population, Delbert Kirsch’s continuing invisibility in Batoche issues, and the premier receiving increased censure within his own riding that recently saw Shellbrook hospital facilities momentarily come close to closure, the Saskatchewan Party’s focus upon the actual northern border of the province being some invisible line just north of Rosthern, Carla Beck may not have to wait too long after all before finally becoming the premier that is, like Roy Romanow, having to show the way to the rest of the province in how to govern effectively.
My advice to Premier Moe: Keep blaming Justin, young fellow; that tactic is really paying dividends for you, don’t you think?
Probably not…

Existential meandering: a key to understanding the political process

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I’ve have almost always believed in the idea that the abstract randomness of thought processes is the greatest source of revelation to the soul of man. I don’t know what I mean by that; it sounds “intelligent”, at least, so perhaps going through one of my more recent mulling-over as to what I should be griping about this week might better illustrate the point I’m trying to convey.


As a mathematics teacher, I lean heavily upon Piaget’s theories on the development of cognitive behaviour – the study of actions one takes when encountering a problem whose influence upon one’s personal choices. Without trying to oversimplify its process, it goes something like this. Our learning for the purpose of survival takes place in four distinct stages. First comes the “innate” stage, that knowledge or skill set you bring with you when you are born. This is then followed by the acquisition of “rote” knowledge, facts that don’t really require much effort in the way of learning, sort of like listening to your parents if you want to survive teen-hood without being grounded, and which you can repeat in your sleep – I’d say like learning the Seven-times table, but I’m getting ahead of myself here.


The latter two stages, however, force us to consider resolving the basic problems of life on our own, or more academically stated as “applying of stored knowledge to the resolution of an existing problem and resolving its difficulties”. Personally speaking, however, I am finding that the selective watering-down of educational objectives, not to mention the influence of “helicopter” parents who believe that their rug-rats must be protected from all manner of evil, including the learning of knowledge application so as to continue to evolve as a species is creating future generations of drones who, as George Orwell predicted, when performing at their selectively acquired skill level as did his elevator operator, seeing the sunlight just as he opens the door to say “Roof”, marvels at the view, only to be perplexed at the lack of fulfillment that settles upon him as the machine again heads towards the lower floors.


I blame this pessimistic perception of reality based upon what I see daily in the actions of those around me, be it in their acceptance of knowledge being delivered in so-called “sound bites” (once being of 30 second duration, now shrinking even further to 15 seconds) and the Facebook Disinformation Network (also known as “Chat” and “social media”) which has shrunk our attention span to that of a gerbil in panic mode.


I can readily cite two such Pavlovian responses I’ve received from Saskatchewan Party “heavyweights” Joe Hargrave and Don Morgan: “tut-tut” rebukes of my perceptions as to the direction provincial politics is taking. To them, IF their wards (we, the voting public) momentarily escape the comfortable domain of our Skinnerian boxes by considering my words, they may be “cured” of the contagion by simply being reminded that I, who returns to the province in which I was born so as to bring this “foreign” knowledge to the masses, am regrettably “infected” with the “NDP “virus”.


This one-line denunciation is often found in lively political conversations on social media, where Skinner outcasts also dare to question the direction in which the Sask Party is dragging us, only to be rebuked by the various trolls defending the Bible of Jason Kenney Worship as preached by Mr. Moe and Co. As well, it is carried forward with even more venom in public, punctuated by acts of incivility and contempt upon those who are trying to understand why we put up with the childish behaviour.


One such incident of note recently came from a participant in a Shellbrook riding coffee klatch – the domain of our own premier. It went something like this: “Ryan Meili was raised in rural Saskatchewan, but still decided to “wash the s**t off his boots and abandon farmers.” I don’t suppose that the creator of that particular gem would care to comment upon the fact that Scott Moe grew up on a farm, but couldn’t even use that life skill to become a success at its practice. But no, when you’re in Opposition to the Sask Party, you either have to be damned, or worse, pitied, as was the tenor of a recent article penned by the Leader Post’s Murray Mandryk focusing upon the alleged “inability” of then-NDP leader Dr. Ryan Meili to deliver the Party’s message to voters.


Dr. Meili has admitted that his failing was that as leader he was almost forced to become the “attack dog” for the NDP. Personally, I think that this self-criticism ignores the reality of a government only too willing to pick on character nits. For instance, he had a women’s caucus to include Prince Albert’s Nicole Rancourt, Cathy Sproule and Danielle Chartier, as well as Nicole Sarauer and Carla Beck only too willing to leave blood and carnage on the Legislature floor; unfortunately, government MLA’s only perceived them as “chihuahuas”, readily excited by the roles they played in public, but perfectly behaved and willing to take notes when attending the Saskatchewan Party’s Executive meetings, as once did Nadine Wilson, or readily disposed of as was Jennifer Campeau, who while being courted by Brad Wall to fulfil a purpose within the Party, was booted when she dared to ask just what that role for her might be.


In Piaget’s scheme, however, there is a fourth dimension to learning, that being the abstract, the capacity to examine a problem for which there has never been a solution, and utilize the knowledge of application to resolve such dilemma. In the two women who seek the leadership of the NDP, Carla Beck and Kaitlyn Harvey, we already have two individuals who have achieved the ability to resolve issues of concern that the Sask Party itself helped to create, in particular those of an educational nature, the environment and climate change, and in the full and complete knowledge that rural Saskatchewan is finally coming to the realization that doing nothing but whine about Justin and his issues, as regularly does Scott Moe, is not helping to solve Saskatchewan-based concerns.


Their bites will be delivered in silence, with only the words of their policy outlines creating havoc for lack of response coming from the Saskatchewan Party remains – especially when both will inevitably be elected to the Legislature in 2024.


Considering my age, my “bark” will only be perceived as a sigh of relief.

Sask. Party needs wake-up call from rural voters

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I am becoming increasingly buoyed by the reality of some members of the “ruling class” are starting to read my column with increasing regularity – at least, if the phone calls I’ve recently received respecting my rebuttal (Daily Herald, April 30, 2022) to Mr. Joe Hargrave’s contention that the Chamber of Commerce luncheon with the premier and Minister of Finance was preordained to be negative in tone (Daily Herald, April 27, 2022).
I will admit that there weren’t “yet” any endorsements for the NDP (the party for which I am supposed to be some puppet writer being fed story lines, observations and commentary) in those calls. Still, when a realtor calls to thank me for bringing up the lack of housing stock in the city, and the grief that issue caused when Weyerhaeuser acted like it was riding the white horse of economic salvation into the city, I don’t know what to say.
Mr. Hargrave may have seen it his duty to protect the government by writing his April 27th editorial column. Seriously, though, did our P.A. Carleton MLA not foresee that the Saskatchewan Party trying to turn this luncheon into a “Don’t worry, be happy” campaign event and NOT risk bringing out the boo-birds, cynics and individuals hurting from the government’s uninspiring attempts to manage a Covid pandemic?
Were anyone else other than Premier Scott Moe headlining this event with the Minister of Finance, I can see where the luncheon could have had its positive message appreciated – except for the fact that, irrespective of place or circumstance, Moe insists upon pouring gasoline on fires already out of control.
I have long held the belief that the Saskatchewan Party has NO one on the premier’s staff who either advises “caution” when answering certain queries, or simply “taking away the keys” by cutting off question periods when they wander into sensitive areas. Even “that deaf, dumb and blind man” popularized by The Who could have foreseen that someone within the audience at that luncheon would bring up the topic of climate change. Still, the Premier claims that “a lot of folks come to me and say, ‘Hey, you guys have the highest carbon emissions per capita’, I don’t care.”
To say that this is a slap in the face of rural producers having to reduce herd size or sell land so as to provide any opportunity to get a crop into the ground due to last summer’s serious drought conditions is an understatement. When you’re sitting on the sidelines watching the price of fuel rise as a result of Russia’s incursion into Ukraine, it’s not hard to think about the approximately $0.11 per litre of fuel that we’re paying that goes to the carbon tax levy.
Four years ago, the Saskatchewan government, along with Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario pretended that there were far more pressing issues to be concerned about than climate change to worry about. Now, even as we are currently being subjected to the influence of the Ukraine conflict affecting fuel prices in general, the Premier now wants us to again believe that the Saskatchewan Party’s asinine argument from the last election maintaining that it was the carbon tax alone that had rural producers struggling to make ends meet is pure Science Fiction.
I am particularly depressed by the incantations of spokespersons from the Agriculture Producers Association of Saskatchewan constantly getting sucked into this sinkhole. Ian Boxall, who is the current president of APAS, recently was quoted in a Canadian Press article (“Pinched Saskatchewan farmers decry carbon tax hike”, April 2, 2022) that farmers are tired of hearing that such costs can be defrayed by tax breaks, and that even before this hike, the average producer was paying approximately $10,000 more in supplementary fuel costs, mostly due to other suppliers inflating the cost of goods, especially transportation, by inserting supplementary line costs highlighting this item as the “reason” for their own inflationary increases in the pricing of goods and services.
Urban voters are seeing the same thing occur with the price increases of food, particularly bread and cereal products, so that Mr. Boxall’s observation has considerable merit. However, when it comes to examining a budgetary response to how climate change can impact a producer’s revenue stream, considering the size of today’s agricultural enterprises, that $10,000 is less than half of one percent of operating costs for the producer.
Many farmers having had to absorb a $10,000 “hit” in crop failure loss from as little as 20 acres (about 8 hectares) yield depreciation, or just over $300,000 per section. When you add to this herd culling costs over selling 20% or more of your inventory so that you can stay in business this year, the carbon tax rates right up there with a mosquito bite on the carcass of a bull elephant. Add to this the fact that SGI rate increases for crop loss – an item that can be controlled by our government – are higher costs to producers, but I don’t see the government caring all that much about farm “costs”.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that APAS spokespersons have been conned. In November of 2018, I wrote an article wherein that organization maintained that a $50 per metric tonne would add $2/acre to nitrogen fertilizer costs. Fertilizer Canada officials were dumbfounded, noting that were the federal government to implement a carbon offset program rewarding farmers for employing the 4R nutrient stewardship program, that move alone would reduce Saskatchewan’s greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 2 metric tonnes per year.
Instead of having his observations misrepresented by Saskatchewan Party politicians, Mr. Boxall could do a lot more for this province’s population, rural and urban, by simply insisting that the government cease its stupidity in attempting to sell climate change as “no big deal”. I know ridings in rural Saskatchewan where, if he were to take such an approach, the local NDP Executive might consider asking him to run as a party candidate in the next election.
Such a move might put APAS’s “neutrality” to a test, but when you have a current government touting nonsense and science fiction as party policy, we need that type of wake-up call from rural Saskatchewan voters.

Chamber luncheon leaves more questions to be asked than answered

When I first heard of the Premier and the Minister of Finance coming to Prince Albert last Friday, I started to think about a column to write explaining what this speech would entail, what issues it would fail to confront, and speculate on how the audience would respond. Hoping that this event may actually produce an election-inspiring dialogue that would finally get voters thinking instead of hating, I chose to hold off on the piece…

Big mistake

Anyone who regularly reads my column knows I’m no fan of the Saskatchewan Party nor their policies. The SP hierarchy is too “in love” with Alberta’s Jason Kenney’s unerringly stupid way of managing that province with his 18th Century interpretation of “conservative” values as they affect the province’s economy. Every province except Saskatchewan is seeing their unemployment numbers declining. More to the point, with the province FINALLY receiving royalties from skyrocketing crude oil prices, of what benefit is that to the average Joe now paying $1.70/liter for gas and our grocery bills inflating faster than Donald Trump’s ego. Is this REALLY the time for the government to start singing, “Good times are just ahead”?

I hate being a “wet blanket”, but then this government has always had a serious problem with reacting positively to market trends. For the last two years we’ve been buffeted by a Covid-19 pandemic that seems to have no end, as it offers up still another mutated version that further pushes rates of contagion to hypersonic levels. To say that these factors have put EVERYONE “on edge” is the “Understatement of the Year”.

So, what does the SP government do? It adopts the laissez-faire “herd immunization” policies of South Dakota, even though Sweden has shown us that this approach doesn’t work, and we’re left with the province now having the highest “per 100,000” death rate from this virus in Canada.

The question I have to ask, though, is why did the Chamber of Commerce choose to treat this address by the premier and Minister of Finance as a “feel good” moment for the city? CEO Patty Hughes said that the sell-out of tickets for the luncheon briefing was “showing that people are ready to be engaged and back out doing things again.”

Even I wish that were true…

Shouldn’t Chamber of Commerce members be asking what this over-hyped budget will do for the city, other than continue to leave us with a 3-P funded health care system with the expansion of the hospital? What is really driving me nuts, however, is the city’s SP MLA’s Joe Hargrave and Alana Ross gushing over the “twinning” of Highway 3 East in the PREMIER’s riding. Who is speaking out for our drastic need for a second bridge to unplug the movement of goods and services to the north?

Certainly not Batoche MLA Delbert Kirsch nor Saskatchewan Rivers independent representative Nadine Wilson. Theirs is the sound of one hand clapping…

For her part, Ms. Hughes may believe that the private investment in forestry may be “significant to the business community and our economy”, but we heard the same platitudes when Weyerhaeuser came to town. Not only did this corporate parasite renege on its intended contractual goals, but created a living Hell in the city’s affordable rental housing market, and manpower hiring controversies mostly affecting Indigenous members travelling hundreds of kilometers in their own attempt to alleviate their own community’s economic sufferings.

More to the point, I don’t see our MLA’s moving to deal with the expansive issues that will continue to present themselves once Paper Excellence opens up the mill. The downtown core is on life support, realtors are already lamenting a lack of product to move even as they expect to see workers moving here from the north, and environmental groups are becoming increasingly worried about the potential of our forests not being able to meet the resource necessities of the industry.

The point is, the Saskatchewan Party has never developed a “friendly” attitude towards the forestry industry. During the 2015 fire season, the attitude of the Wall government was too passive. The scorched north-eastern portion of the province stretching well past Sandy Bay has never been replanted, while the north-west sector from Big River to Buffalo Narrows, whole segments of land remain barren of life due to the government being unwilling to address industry’s proclivities to clear cut product, while still valuable wood entangled by the district’s “plough winds” along the shores of Chitek Lake remain unharvested and unclaimed.

Whether or not we wish to accept the expansiveness of these problems affecting our north’s forest industry, they are also the problems which our businesses, and particularly our Chamber of Commerce, must address. The average city voter may read this statement and legitimately ask the question, “Why should the north’s concerns be ours to bear?” My answer is simple: If we wish to remain as “The Gateway to the North”, we have no other option but to pursue such a policy.

The question that remains unanswered, however, is “Does the Chamber of Commerce membership agree?”

And so, WHEN Is the Chamber going to start asking hard questions of this government, which it failed to do at this luncheon meeting with the Minister of Finance and the premier? Will it again become the voice of concern of this province in forcing the next provincial campaign to focus upon the government’s inability to come up with policies that will diversify our economy?

Personally, I believe that I’m, in the majority when I contend that it’s about time that our political parties returned to “the good old days” of actually debating issues; listening to the hate-filled tirade of problems being left unsolved because of our exalted PM and the lame “carbon tax” being the creation of Lucifer himself is getting pretty boring.

On this point alone, I seriously doubt that I am “wrong”…

Convoy’s aftereffects reflective of an uneasy political certainty

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The Freedom Convoy is now gone, a by-product of minds that questioned the values of our institutions, only to find that their interpretation of what “freedom” truly means could never be reflected in the administration of our own democracy. Most Canadians already had some sense that this would be the end result of the truckers’ mission to Ottawa, even from the convoy’s very beginning. However, those not part of the following of yellow jackets, unemployed oil field workers and constitutional illiterates convinced by our premier that the imposition of a petroleum fuel-based “carbon tax” in Saskatchewan was federal overreach, joined nonetheless.

It is almost impossible to gauge the depth of loathing that the Conservatives, have been able to install, and the  doubt as to our ability to survive as a democracy unless we are following their increasingly extremist principles. Unfortunately, this contempt is itself fueled by the existence of the still very young son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who had little problem telling the unenlightened or boringly uninformed at what stop on the political train’s rigid schedule they could get off, even if that station no longer existed.

Son Justin, unfortunately, while inheriting his father’s stronger intellectual genes, neither exudes his father’s strength nor his “likeability”. These micro-perceived weaknesses have thus allowed western Canadian “conservatives” to ratchet up their levels of personal disdain, already pre-heated by the father’s previous policy implementations. This is particularly true of the National Energy Program, and made even more aggravating by the fact that were it now in place, we would have both our energy independence and ability to distribute our natural petroleum resources on terms favourable to all Canadians.

The emergence of a buffoon U.S. President Donald Trump in 2016 only made the PM seem even weaker when shortly after being elected he demanded that the North American Free Trade Agreement be rewritten to better embrace the isolationist “Buy American” sentiments of his extremist right-wing Republican colleagues. Premier Scott Moe’s vacillating over creating an agenda to have Saskatchewan fight climate change didn’t help, either. Finally growing weary of the Saskatchewan Party’s dithering, the federal government imposed its now infamous “carbon tax” upon our petroleum worshipping populace, and the constitutional war featuring Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Alberta and Ontario against “overreach” was begun. Trudeau won that battle, but by that time not even buying a pipeline for Alberta’s harried exporters of bitumen could get him out of the cauldron of hate that both Moe and Alberta’s Jason Kenney were now heating with their excessive natural resource.

The behaviour exuded by the very first convoy of blowhards protesting the imposition of the carbon tax should have portended what would happen in excess were the “Covid-19 Pandemic Express” come into being; however, it now seems that people’s ability to extract knowledge from the gibberish spewed by professional disseminators of misinformation such as Pat King. Tamara Lich or Ben Dichter was also impaired by Covid, or rather, the length of time that this pandemic has laid havoc upon our normal patterns of behaviour. Thus, given by the lack of police preparedness the trucker convoy’s participants perceived when they first arrived at the gates of Ottawa, the reign of chaos was inevitable.

It is now obvious that Ontario premier Doug Ford vacated his own responsibilities for protecting the people of Ottawa from the harassment they inevitably received from the thugs among the convoy’s participants. Whether this was a gross misinterpretation of the federal government’s anticipated part in pursuing such a protective role or whether it was a deliberate attempt to further undermine the credibility of the PM will probably never come to light. In the case of the Ambassador Bridge in Windsor being blocked, however, it did not take long for the premier to see the light of lost business and investment light up the economic scoreboard before the OPP and supporting officers from across Ontario had the entire blockade dealt with and dispersed.

By the time Windsor’s population had calmed down, the RCMP in Coutts, AB were cracking open an arms cache. Only then did the Ottawa police commission find some urgency in dispersing an increasingly unruly mob of what were now perceived as insurrectionists from its streets – and even then, there were still parents weaponizing their children to hold the police lines in abeyance as they tried to remove the remaining resisters, and believing that their “cause” – to either eliminate all Covid-related mandates from the provinces, or replace the federal government – were still achievable goals.

Since then, the continuing saga of the convoy’s leaders dealing with authority figures has created a myriad assortment of jokes and “I told you so” stories that, were the Russians not now invading Ukraine might still not be having any effect upon Canadians. Indeed, even here in Prince Albert, Melanie Markling is still trying to organize protests to highlight the “cause and purpose” of the convoy’s originally expected intentions.

In typical fashion, Premier Moe has disavowed any insinuation of his “follow me” actions in sticking to the laissez-faire policies of Alberta’s Jason Kenney. Indeed, his contention that there were no blockades affecting Saskatchewan border crossings should be making people ask the question, “Isn’t that because, thanks to your incompetent handling of our economy, your inability to diversify its roots, or the reality that your mishandling of a dangerous growth in climate change disasters has been further compromised by your obsequious pandering to American petroleum interests and the Wexit faction within your own party, merely means that we haven’t an economy that could be any worse damaged by such a blockade?”

The now diminished mobs of 20 or less persons led by Ms. Markling desire to have our citizens “learn to live” within the constraints of this ongoing pandemic defy reality, while simultaneously ignoring the fact that this province is headed nowhere but down so long as people keep on believing that the Saskatchewan Party “has a plan” to fix everything.

They don’t – and the worst thing about all of this is that it took an attack by Russia upon Ukraine for the majority of us to finally conclude that the only barrier to our own “freedom”, or lack thereof, is for us to actually understand what it’s like should we ever actually lose it.

Poilievre, Bergen “Dancing with the Stars” routine on “Freedom Convoy” television gets an 18-R rating by viewers

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OPINION

Here we are into Week Four of the so-called “Freedom Convoy” occupation of Ottawa, and the news coming out of Bytown hasn’t changed one iota. Sure, the Ottawa Police Board has a totally new membership, the Chief of Police, Peter Sloly has resigned in disgrace, only to be replaced by Steve Bell, who but for his well-shaved head, could be used as a stunt double for Ontario premier Doug Ford. Then, up on The Hill we have western Canada’s favourite Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau who, by introducing the new Emergency Measures Act, is now in the process of creating what, at least in the Conservative Party of Canada’s brain trust minds, a dangerous threat to our democracy.
To be honest about it, the Ottawa occupation story is starting to sound more and more like some watered-down version of the January 6th insurrection in Washington, DC, where indignant Trump supporters demanded that Mike Pence overturn the November election results and return The Donald to the White House throne room. Here in Canada, Pence is replaced by the Governor General, who is currently still trying to recover from a crippling bout of laughing hysteria at even the suggestion of turning our nation over to a group of unelected thugs. In Washington, a slow response to the riotous conditions that were getting worse at the Capitol is plagiarized by a Chief of Police (Sloly) and a fairly silent but influential coterie of Ottawa police officers and a Police Commission calling for “restraint”, even as some of the officers apparently were diffident with respect to their duty to maintain law and order during the convoy’s occupation of the downtown. And THEN…
Not to be outdone in its lack of originality as a story, we also have our official Party of Hate, the CPC, currently led by Candice Bergen (without her wearing her now-favourite MAGA hat, unfortunately), raging about the Emergency Powers legislation being “overreach”, even as her sidekick, Pierre Poilievre, continues to demand that all Canadian governments cancel their COVID-related mandates and allow the Ottawa lawless hordes to continue their “peaceful” protest and occupation – just not in places where “real” commerce is being practiced and unduly affecting hundreds of thousands of Canadians trying to put bread on the table, as was the case in Windsor, Ont.
The Ottawa scenario is providing some amazing fodder for creative writers, who now see the possibility of churning out an Oscar-winning four-hour comedic thriller starring Saskatchewan’s very own Kim Coates. Consider, if you will, the items of “minor” interest coming to the fore in this debacle: the announcement last week coming from the “Organizing Committee” of the convoy to await the “expose” of intrigue, subterfuge and “Communist” affiliation with the membership of the “Every Child Matters” movement, the arms cache seized by the RCMP near the U.S. border in Alberta, or that truck stolen in Peterborough, ON laden with firearms that no one knows where it went because the shipper was too stupid to wire the shipment with a copious amount of GPS trackers. And then there’s that money being raised at an allegedly “Christian” web site called “GiveSendGo” from anonymous American donors to support the truckers’ freedom march, springing into action after the normally used “GoFundMe” site shut down its own funding mechanism following allegations of fraud and corruption in the money’s utilization by the Freedom Convoy’s “organizers”…
There you have it – a blockbuster that makes the “Godfather” series look like a minor 7-11 hold-up by teenagers using water pistols.
It’s bloody hard for me not to be cynical as to what is now happening in our capital, and threatens to spread even wider as the protest tries to increase its momentum in exacerbating chaos. The participants in this charade are simultaneously trying to feed the Canadian public their own version of the Canadian identity, while dabbling in the time-honoured practice of revisionism. For anyone unfamiliar with the exact meaning of that word, one must remember how it came to be utilized, especially by those professing to be “true Communists”. Leon Trotsky correctly noted that Karl Marx’s economic revolution that would henceforth become known as the rise and “dictatorship of the proletariat” could not possibly have occurred around 1914, because Mother Russia was still a feudal state, not an industrialized one (the same also applies to the Maoist revolution that occurred in China following World War II), so perhaps the party’s attempts to govern by the utilization of work “committees” was a tad premature. Uncle Joe Stalin, not wishing to hear such nonsensical rhetoric, promptly had one of his assassin teams dispatch friend Leon to Workers’ Heaven, leaving our less educated politicians to continue to utilize the word “Communist” as though they knew what the word stands for and actually means in theoretical practice.
This inability of today’s Conservative Party leadership to think for itself, much less articulate policies that sound more “Canadian”, has resulted in the proliferation of hate-spewed rhetoric that their fellow “conservatives” such as Jason Kenney regularly feed our media sources. In that process, their leadership has chosen as their mantra “Blame it all on Justin”, even though it was Pierre Poilievre’s feeble-minded rewriting of the Election Act that spurred Canadians to totally reject the notion of Stephen Harper ever again becoming our duly elected Prime Minister.
So, what does our blessed Party of Hate come up with? Well, now they’re producing their own version of revisionist history by promoting Poilievre as the new Messiah of the party. They are simultaneously burying his past record of having been the one shoving the dagger into the hopes of there ever being another Conservative-led Parliament, and leaving us with the old and stale Natural Governing Party – the Liberals – to rule the federal jurisdictional waves.
The Conservatives will tell you that it is the NDP that is doing the political roll-over act by supporting the declaration of the Emergency Powers Act, when they were once against the imposition of the War Measures Act under the PM’s father, Pierre Trudeau. This ignores the reality of a few hundred trucks honking their horns whenever they feel like it are tactics used by so-called “rebel forces” promoting insurrection and government overthrow to demoralize populations.
Our very own MP, Randy Hoback, claims to support the truckers’ cause, while citing opposition from the provinces (Alberta and Saskatchewan, of course) as cause to reflect upon the potential damage done to our constitutional rights should that Act be proclaimed. He’s wrong about this – dead wrong. The ONLY way to resolve this situation is for ALL parties to stop this asinine bickering and one-upmanship and delivering a solution to the Canadian public that satisfies the majority of all Canadians’ expectations for proper governance.
Based upon the behaviour of Poilievre and Bergen, however, don’t expect that to happen any time soon.