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


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


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…”


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


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


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


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


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


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


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’


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 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


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?


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


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 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


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


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


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


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



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.

Poilievre, Bergen support for Ottawa protest an insult to democracy and freedom


My father’s generation had this rather cute saying for anyone who’d pushed the limits of tolerance in their behavior: “Hanging’s too good for him; he needs a swift kick in the ass.” That, in essence, is how I am feeling about the truckers’ so-called “Freedom Convoy” now turning downtown Ottawa and Windsor into public toilets and lawless districts.

At the risk of sounding obvious, I don’t know of a single friend, relation or down-and-outer who’s NOT sick and tired of the health care mandates; however, an overwhelming majority of Canadians are still prepared to respect such decisions. Nonetheless, neither our exalted premier nor his Alberta friend Jason Kenney, see fit to honour such responsibility, deserting even their once loyal carbon tax ally and Ontario premier Doug Ford in siding with the leaders of this trucker insurrection to impose chaos and anarchy in the cities that this convoy has seen fit to occupy.

Neither Moe nor Kenney are alone in capitulating to this convoy’s leadership and anti-democratic agenda. Leading this parade is none other than Pierre Poilievre, the fluently bilingual Conservative MP for the Ottawa suburb of Carleton and Candice Bergen, MP for Manitoba’s Portage-Lisgar riding. Bergen, only recently appointed as Interim Leader of the Opposition after the Conservative Party caucus finished feasting on the carcass of former leader Erin O’Toole, hides her political opinions under the veil of the MAGA hat she now regularly models, as if the camouflage pattern and colouring masks her more extremist sentiments. Poilievre, on the other hand, is the type of politician that were you to shake his hand, you might want to recount the rings on your fingers after the grip’s release.

Having already tossed his hat into the ring of “contenders” for the deposed O’Toole’s former job, Poilievre is already being acknowledged as the most likely to become the next official party “leader”. Less known about this smooth-talking salesman is that under Stephen Harper, he was specifically chosen to rewrite Canada’s Election Act to address the mythical notion within “conservative” (read as “American Republicans”) circles of the country’s electoral system being plagued by “voter fraud”. He did such a good job in inserting clauses into what would laughingly become the “Fair” Elections Act that it not only had potentially negative effects upon Indigenous individuals living on reserve, transients, apartment dwellers, the homeless, and immigrant families only having recently achieved citizenship, that Harper was forced to have him rewrite large portions of the bill eventually passed by Parliament.

The backlash to Poilievre’s work was so overwhelming that two movements sprang up in opposition: the NDP’s “Stop Harper” campaign, led by Tom Mulcair, acknowledged by virtually all media reporters in Canada as the best leader of the Opposition since John Diefenbaker, and the panic-induced Liberal strategy for having electors strategically vote for “ABC” – Anyone But a Conservative candidate that was the better likely to defeat Mr. Harper’s chosen candidate. In the end, the entire Liberal Party was taken off life support, and Justin Trudeau became our Prime Minister.

Unfortunately, there is also this common phrase that periodically makes its mundane point, namely that “You can’t keep a good man down” – and with former leader Erin O’Toole now fully devoured by caucus, Mr. Poilievre is the frontrunner in a race that may well become a leadership coronation. He has done so by, in the words of one Globe and Mail columnist, ladening his declaration speech with copious references to “freedom” and patriotic commitment to resisting “unnecessary” health mandates and vaccination requirements in the nation’s attempt to rid us of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It would have been nice if the congregation to which Mr. Poilievre was directing this speech understood the meaning of the “F” word they were using as a front for their protest, but they don’t. Were such standards understood, the convoy drivers wouldn’t have left their female companions alone to practice their victory dance routines on the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, much less try to break the artificial limb off Ottawa’s statue of cancer cure walker Terry Fox.

As for their own asinine behaviour in honking their air horns at three in the morning, assaulting mostly women wearing masks in public, or revving their diesel engines so as to raise the pollution index to an intolerable level in downtown, the convoy participants’ contempt for fellow citizens (most of whom are also tired of having to live through this pandemic but at least have the intelligence to recognize it not going away unless we take even more serious measures to stop its spread) was held aloft without any sense of embarrassment, much less shame.

Equally sickening was watching one middle-aged male convoy member break into tears on a CBC News piece on Wednesday, lamenting the “loss of freedoms” his family had suffered through since this pandemic alert was declared just under two years ago. Just once I would have liked a World War One survivor of battles on Vimy Ridge to be present to look this tear-stained fake and ask the question, “Are you serious?”

I wonder just how many Canadians know that the Canadian troops’ commanders for that assault, the British, let Canadian brigades into these killing fields to “soften up” the German troops holding the lines immovable before finally having their soldiers do “the real work” – only to see Canadians do what they considered to be the impossible.

More than 500,000 Canadians VOLUNTEERED to fight for freedom during World War Two, with almost half of them coming from the Prairies. The British army used Canadian troops as cannon fodder in the raid on Dieppe, and American commanders assigned the toughest landing zone in the Normandy landing on June 6, 1944 to our troops. Even in Afghanistan, Canadian troops were assigned to “police” the Kandahar region, deemed “uncontrollable” by the American military. THESE are the men and women who understand what fighting for freedom is all about, not a group of race-baiting cretins, anti-Semitic “pastors” quoting encouragement from Genesis or Revelations, con artists that have already absconded with close to $1 million in GoFundMe monies, and western separatists who aren’t even truckers, leading concerned individuals to protest what is most certainly a harsh economic time for them and every other Canadian.

For Poilievre and Bergen, however, it is a quest for power that leads them to seek the friendship and support of those organized this insurrection, and nothing else.

I wonder how many Canadians will remember their behaviour come the next election?

Moe/Kenney support for caravan sideshow ignores danger ingrained in currently developing world events


Like millions of other Canadian having had their lives torn apart by this pandemic, I am tired of listening to people whine about “lock-downs”, mask-wearing, or the “questionable” benefit of the three major vaccines currently being used to immunize us to the deadly effects created by the Covid-19 virus.

I sincerely believe that any politician, including our premier, who panders to such bleating should be removed from office. This doesn’t mean that I don’t understand public concern as to their ability to trust Big Pharma and its moral underpinnings of greed. However, this American giant of ethical impurities actually shared research notes with competitors in a fevered attempt to create THREE highly effective products with 85% effectiveness in developing antibodies to this disease.

Moreover, when taken twice, then “boosted”, these products give you a 94% chance or better for living should you still catch this disease. My cynicism notwithstanding, that’s better odds than you get on bar or casino slot machines.

What irks me even more is that only “celebrity” guests on right-wing cable news networks, many without credible medical credentials, question the efficacy of these products – even when they and their host talking heads are fully vaccinated themselves. One doesn’t need a Bill Gates nanobot in my bloodstream to expose the hypocrisy endemic in this Alex Jones / Q-Anon right-wing conspiracy campaign – even if I’m creating this column using Microsoft Word.

Here in Canada our extreme right-wing elements have their own theme for ridiculing the nation’s progress or lack thereof in minimizing the social and emotional side effects of this pandemic – “Blame Justin.” To Scott Moe and Jason Kenney, maintaining the support of anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers and anti-carbon tax adherents is essential to their remaining in power beyond the next political election. Independent MLA Nadine Wilson’s revised agenda to find some “inclusion of all” in “balancing” governmental action while protecting an ambiguous list of “human rights and privileges” is just a sideshow, and the only survival technique they can see working in Saskatchewan or Alberta is to keep up the hate campaign against the trust fund child of former PM Pierre Trudeau.

So far, the Prime Minister has been able to parry the Moe-Kenney agenda by prying fiscal hawk and Ontario premier Doug Ford away from continuing to support the two prairie premiers, even to the point of accepting an NDP voice in helping to fight this virus. However, here’s the problem with him having to devote so much time to creating effective health policies for Canada – as what occurred when the American media could not produce news broadcasts for four years without first leading with another Donald Trump story, stories that portend a more substantive effect upon our everyday lives are being lost in our coverage of the Covid media freak show.

We are currently facing the prospect of a global war erupting should the Russian army be directed by Vladimir Putin to invade the Ukraine. Are the inane babblings of Koch-funded shills writing economic “treatises” on “inflationary pressures” and a “spiraling federal deficit” more important than the prospect of our armed forces being drawn into a potential war – in partnership with a Trump-weakened American military and NATO partners now doubting the commitment of a nation once glorified as the world’s police force?

Meanwhile, here in Canada we stupidly turn our attention towards a conglomerate of long haul transport drivers intending to send still another “caravan” to Ottawa to “protest” being required to be double-vaccinated prior to crossing our international border with the U.S.A. These truckers aren’t members of a workers’” movement”, but merely recycled participants in Scott Moe’s heated rallies over Ottawa’s “imposition” of a carbon tax for the province. Their message is simple: governments imposing lock-downs, curfews and masking requirements are the weapons of “tyranny” imposed by government to restrict privileges they misrepresent as “rights and freedoms”.

This time around, all Canadians should ridicule the formation of this “truckers’ caravan” making its way towards Ottawa. These are not the same drivers who show courtesy and discipline on our highways – the real truckers interested in both their own safety and the protection of their clients’ healthy work environment saw the writing on the wall and voluntarily went out and got vaccinated when the first lock-downs occurred.

Gas stations should refuse to refuel vehicles associated with the convoy, and restaurant owners should think twice before staff end up being abused by their patrons when attempting to enforce provincial guidelines regarding masking. More to the point the media has to stop portraying their “protest” as some uprising inspired by Covid’s debilitating effects upon societal norms, when it is nothing more than a selfish expression of narcissistic libertarianism.

The fight against governmental actions taken while fighting the issues created by this pandemic are nothing more than a skirmish being fought by right-wing trolls intent upon maintaining control of political power. Issues involving the siege by Russia of the Ukraine, on the other hand, is a fight where once started, real bullets are fired from Russian and NATO guns – which is why you won’t be seeing any Oath-Keepers, Proud Boys, or persons in uniform with last names such as Trump, Gaetz, Taylor-Green, Bezos, or the grandsons of Mitch McConnell on the front lines of this skirmish. Only sons and daughters of minority groups truly believing in the democratic process will be performing those duties.

We do not need a repetition of news items showing our finest soldiers being returned to Canada for a final ride down “The Highway of Heroes” before being interred in a military graveyard. Vietnam and Afghanistan have destroyed whatever feelings remain for Americans to pretend that they are still “the land of the brave and the home of the free.” unfortunately, they are not alone in their cynicism – this has happened only because we’ve failed to realize that true “news” is NOT entertainment, but rather an expression of art pictorializing and narrating the events of history.

When our media again get around to embracing that principle, it will finally see the cessation of the cynicism that has those on both sides of a political narrative questioning its accuracy and worth.

Now might just be a good time for us all to wake up to this reality.

The federal election is OVER – let the campaigning begin

That was FUN! – running as an NDP candidate in the federal election, that is…and realizing that there existed over 5,000 of my neighbours who felt the same need for change that I did.

Throughout it all, I wondered whether there’s be any backlash from the Sask Party and Conservative trolls who were previously badmouthing my columns, much in the same way Liberal candidates such as my friend Buckley Belanger is pummeled for his running under the party banner held high by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. But – apparently not…at least, not yet.

This was supposed to be an election campaign in which Indigenous issues were to be front-and-centre, but you’d never guess that from the reaction of many in their leadership. This is the third time that PAGC voices faded faster than smoke signals in a hurricane. Were the steaks served in Edmonton’s Outback restaurant that appealing, or were PAGC chiefs in the Alberta capital enjoying local cuisine because Paul Martin wasn’t around to pick up the tab?

As for FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron, you’d think that the election would be a great time for him to bring forward his stance on major treaty issues, but no – just a deafening silence.

However, at least Indigenous women were having fun in this campaign; many are now lovingly referring to NDP federal leader Jagmeet Singh as “Aquaman”, a sure sign that Justin’s “sex appeal” is waning – and thank God for that.

The four band chiefs in the Prince Albert riding were politically active, but the laissez-faire attitudes of fellow leaders cost Indigenous peoples many voices they desperately need in Parliament, Buckley Belanger and Harmonie King being but two – COMPETING, no less – such individuals. Then there was former Metis Nation – Saskatchewan president Robert Doucette losing to CPC economic illiterate Brad Redecopp in Saskatoon West.

Equally annoying, for the third time the File Hills Qu’Appelle contingent of First Nations refused to consolidate its votes behind NDP candidate Annaliese Bos, thereby allowing CPC Manchurian Candidate, Andrew Scheer, to remain Regina-Qu’Appelle’s embarrassment.

Having now spent $650 million on thinking they could form a majority government, the Liberals have left us with a dog’s breakfast mess of problems that should prevent Mr. Trudeau from getting writ-twitchy in another 18 months. And so, let’s introduce the now in motion 24/ 7/ 365 continuous campaign, the fetal afterbirth caused by politicians too mesmerized by their own sense of self-worth that they can’t just try solving some of our political issues, instead of drafting more meaningless “policy” papers.

As for how we voted in Saskatchewan, I can’t help but ignore Maverick leader Jay Wall’s opinions, if for no other than the fact that his record needle is stuck in the “We hate Justin” groove. He’s as boring as was Preston Manning and already guilty of plagiarizing Reform sermons, and his WEXIT buffoon musings have Indigenous chiefs itching to feed him the Cream of Treaty Law soup they used in Quebec to finally stifle the air flow of the province’s “separatiste” movement.

Of far more interest to Saskatchewanians was the 6% of voter support the Peoples Party of Canada picked up, supplemented by the fact that NO riding in Canada felt sufficiently inspired by their message to elect any of its members, and its leader, Maxime Bernier, was thus left to cower in Saskatoon while voters in his home riding were denying him a third opportunity to return to Parliament.

It’s unfortunate, but the magnitude of the PPC vote is a testimony to the depths of mediocrity our educational system has plunged. The debasement of Civics is particularly sickening, in that the PPC’s propagandist references to human “rights” and “freedoms” bear no relationship to their importance in defining the civic responsibilities of Canadian citizens. Even the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights notes that our societies must place limits upon these so-called “rights” or “freedoms”, particularly when their provisions threaten a nation’s health, economic position or even its prevailing moral code.

Much of the debasement of these two words originates from the battle now being waged by the most ignorant in our society, now overpopulated by an “anti-vaxxer” or “anti-mask” crowd that believes that Covid is just another flu. They, in turn, are goaded into further extreme by the FOX News holy trinity of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, all who know full well that former Emperor Donald J. Trump wears no clothes nor does God’s bidding, but still fills vacuous heads with his inanities on the pandemic hoax, and regularly quote from his Bible of Gibberish.

As a mathematics teacher, I’m always intrigued by the “what if” of providing supplementary resolutions to any problem. For instance, what if the world were suddenly deprived of the quack conspiracy theorists, evangelical flakes or snake oil salesmen who steadfastly maintain Covid is nothing more than the flu, but is instead some New World Order’s attempt to monitor your movement by polluting your bloodstream with nanobots controlled by Bill Gates? How stampede-like, then, would be the rush to be the very first in line to receive the Ebola vaccination, developed by a group of CDC specialists sent to Africa by President Barack Obama to find a cure before it hit the shores of North America – in less time, incidentally, than Big Pharma came out with its own traditional and mRNA versions now holding the Covid virus’s many strains at bay?

We’re all growing sick and tired of having restraints placed on our true freedoms and rights by an anti-Science collection of illiterates quaffing horse medications and cough syrup-like placebos because they don’t know the difference between a germ and a virus. Parliament has to find a way to eradicate the threat of Covid once and for all, much as Science all but eradicated smallpox, polio and the Spanish flu, and remediate the economy of the damages its war placed upon its fiscal future – just so we can finally face the true threats to our economic futures.

You’ll note that I have yet to reveal the lesson that I learned while out campaigning – that our most daunting battle will be reversing the now apparent effects of climate change – and re-educate the most stubborn within our agricultural community that crop yields determine their operation’s continued existence and profitability, not some “carbon tax” fixed cost on our spreadsheets.

Enjoy the campaign….

Doug Ford: On savoring his ‘Come to Jesus’ Moment


Under “normal” circumstances, my 74-year-old younger brother doesn’t phone me during the course of the day, that is, unless he’s got some new way to describe how our federal government’s opposition parties are currently undermining the principles of our nation.

However, lately he has been expanding his fact-finding skills to include how our provincial leaders are responding to the Covid-19 pandemic, and even utilizing an occasional American right-wing stray bullet of disinformation so as to embellish his line of thought. Usually I listen without offering any opinion just to see in what direction this “train” is moving. IF I happen to misinterpret even one facet contained therein – well, that is usually about the time an argument starts, and my wife moves to the next room so as to try and drown out the cross-shouting voices.

Now, please don’t get me “wrong” about my brother; I do “love” him in the traditional manner in which male siblings have been taught to deal with such matters, but he has two “personality” quirks that literally define his formation of character, both of which a majority of Saskatchewanians would immediately recognize as borderline “disorders”: he has ALWAYS voted “Liberal”, and secondly, he’s lived the majority of his life in Ontario.

When he phoned me on Thursday afternoon and started our conversation by actually praising Ontario premier Doug Ford, my first response was to worry about whether or not he’d had a stroke. Fortunately, my brother’s announcement was not a result of medical impediment, but rather of having been “moved” by Ontario premier Doug Ford’s decision to remove Cabinet member and Chatham-Kent-Leamington MPP Rick Nicholls from caucus, thereby not allowing him to run as a Progressive Conservative candidate in the next provincial election.

The reason: Mr. Nicholls had decided to “call the bluff” of Mr. Ford when the party announced that its legislative house members had until 5:00 PM August 19th to get vaccinated, or face expulsion from the Party. It turns out that Mr. Ford actually meant what he said.

The sudden decision by the Ontario premier to bring his entire caucus into demonstrating just whose side they were on while the province was devising strategies on how to it should be fighting the Covid invasion isn’t the first time that Mr. Ford has deviated from the more “cautionary” approaches taken by politicians on the “right” of the political statement. In January, he expelled York Centre MPP from caucus for his opposition to lockdowns, procedures utilized so as to minimize human-to-human public interaction so as to help contain the spreading of the Covid-19 virus, and a procedure now being re-introduced in a panic attempt to restrain the spreading of the more virulent Delta variant.

In principle, Ford is considered to be part of the more extreme of right-wing politicians, at least in his points of view respecting the economy and the tenets of capitalism. For him to, symbolically at least, be seen slapping down those most likely to be sharing his economic beliefs is itself a mind-boggling example of why we should not all be blaming those on the “right” for not taking this virus seriously, even to the point of supporting personal actions that have been shown to scientifically contribute more to its spread as opposed to its contagiousness. In short, Doug Ford’s resistance to the nonsensical rantings of his more conservative teammates is almost miraculous – and about bloody well time for it to be happening.

I’m not going to be out this evening armed with a high-powered telescope looking for a new star on the Eastern horizon, but I’m now wondering how Ford’s determination to see the Covid menace obliterated, is going to affect the public’s reaction to calls begging those not already having received the shots to re-examine their own personal feelings and hesitancy. In particular, I can’t conceive of Scott Moe forsaking his government’s preoccupation with the mental Viagra they’ve been projecting in support of this province being a “strong Saskatchewan”, and instead developing the cojones to tell the many who showed up, some drunk, to publicly rebuke Dr. Saqib Shahab for his support of lockdowns to simply shut up, sit down or go home.

Mind you, no government in Canada, with the possible exception of Alberta’s Jason Kenney’s, is scanning the horizon for foreign “invaders” of our democratic sovereignty and funding disinformation campaigns so as to scuttle the efforts of his government trying to right the sinking economic ship once the envy of every provincial leader.

Indeed, it’s almost impossible to understand what is the “policy” of the Alberta government when it comes to fighting the next wave of Covid infection. Virtually all restrictions, including those affecting persons who are actually infected, have been removed from social gathering by the Kenney government, even as the number of cases is increasing at an alarming rate. In effect, for Albertans, “social distancing” has become an “optional” process, with merchants having been given free reign as to whether or not to impose masking requirements for its clientele.

Equally ludicrous is the attitude of the province’s governing party in response to the call for a federal election. On the one hand, the Kenney government is utilizing Covid as an “excuse”, questioning whether or not the writ should even have been dropped while Canada is “in the middle” of this pandemic, while on the other telling its citizens that the pandemic is essentially “over”, and people can start easing themselves back into a more normalized” form of lifestyle.

Ontario premier Ford’s response, to the contrary, is a refreshing change in the tactics now being utilized to help the 30% of Canadians still not vaccinated to simply go out and get the job done. It’s also a sign that our governments, at least the ones leading the fight against this virus, are fast reaching the breaking point in establishing at what juncture they will say, “enough is enough”, and no longer fund the programs that have been established to provide financial need for families having difficulty in coping with the economic realities of the virus’s ongoing effects upon the economy.

My only concern is, was Premier Moe even paying attention when Doug Ford, just for a minute, changed his personality and established a primacy of behaviour that all premiers should respect and emulate?

In search of the sentencing circle solution


I must confess that I’ve never been particularly impressed with how our judicial system metes out “justice” in its sentencing; to me, too much of it is subjective, vindictive and overtly harsh in its application.

I went to school with Steven Truscott, so maybe I’ve been overly sensitized to resist any notion that all punishment should “fit the crime”, and be measurably equivalent to the brutality of the crime itself.

Truscott was accused at the age of 14 of brutally murdering a female classmate, Cheryl Lynne Harper, in 1959, convicted of same on the shakiest of evidence gathered by an indifferent and seriously bored police force, and despite his youth, sentenced to be hanged.

Prime Minister John G. Diefenbaker and Cabinet commuted that sentence to life imprisonment, only to be pilloried for their unwillingness to apply the “principles of justice” emanating from the “eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” crowd once carrying the “right to life” banner of that movement’s judgmental sycophants.

Truscott was released on parole in 1969, as court officials were already believing that his was a case of a miscarriage of justice. In 2007, evidence finally emerged that confirmed his innocence, and pointed the finger towards the person most likely to have committed this crime, a non-commissioned officer in the Canadian Armed Forces stationed at Clinton, ON, long since deceased.

Today’s judicial practice delivers punishment for any criminal behaviour as defined not to scientific or statistical fact respecting rehabilitation or recidivism, but rather by the sentiments flowing from a colonizing power exercising its contempt for those who seemingly don’t “understand the civility” of its intended message, and therefore become proportionately overrepresented in our jails.

We then defend our actions by showing disdain for different systems of justice, particularly Sharia law as practised by some factions within the Islamic faith. Typically, Islamophobes will use this as justification for their bigotry and its practitioners cruelty towards women, ignoring the reality of Canadian law having classified its married women as the “property” of their husband and weren’t even legally considered to be “persons” until 1929.

Equally lost in its embellishment of our system of common law is that up to forty years ago a husband, armed with a wooden not exceeding a certain measure as stipulated by law could beat their wives within inches of their lives, or could rape his spouse. Considering that we still see an average of one woman spouse dying as a result of physical abuse by their partner every six days, pretending that our menfolk are not violent and that we respect a woman’s right to control their own lives and bodies is just another Canadian mythological absurdity.

Indigenous sentencing circles, on the other hand, lack the violent thread that weaves its way through our Criminal Code. Such judicial ceremonies only seek to address the consequences of antisocial behaviour by enlisting the support of community and family to help heal the emotional wounds created from criminal action.

As an example, in a 2002 trial involving two Saskatoon police officers abandoning an Indigenous man, Darrell Night, on the outskirts of town to walk home in -25O C weather wearing only a light jacket, one of their lawyers, a Metis woman, requested punishment for guilt be applied through a sentencing circle. That request enraged then-FSIN Vice Chief Lawrence Joseph, who objected to the process being used to resolve a criminal case not involving an Indigenous defendant.

Vice Chief Lawrence Joseph would later question his own initial reaction to the sentencing request, but by then the opportunity to demonstrate the judicial strength of Indigenous law had been already lost. After losing their sentencing appeal, the now ex-officers served 90 days in Manitoba’s Stony Mountain Institute – protected on the “inside” by members of the Indian Posse.
Darrel Night has yet to receive compensation from the City of Saskatoon for his ordeal.

Most of our “white” society is brainwashed to believe that the sentencing circle coddles Indigenous defendants, thus depriving society of their being fully “punished” as an offender. However, in early 2000 Nuxalk First Nation member Billy Andy, seeking admission to a University of Northern British Columbia degree program, undertook a study intended to disclose the reaction of Indigenous offenders to being judged by either the traditional court system or a sentencing circle. Over 90% of the surveyed claimed a preference for traditional court proceedings.

Asked to explain that choice, their responses were equally unanimous – in the regular court system, you simply had to “do the time” without thought as to the potential harm inflicted upon the crime’s victims; in a sentencing circle, however, you were not only forced to confront both your own sense of guilt and harm done to others, but to seek forgiveness and start the healing process of the emotional wounds opened within the victim by your actions.

Just over four years ago I wrote an Op-Ed piece on the sordid manner in which the trial of Gerald Stanley, a Glenside farmer accused of having murdered Colten Boushie, a Cree member of the Red Pheasant band, was handled, using the tool of “what if” that trial had been conducted under the guidelines established for the usage of a sentencing circle in deliberation. At the time, and irrespective of which “side” you expressed your personal sympathies, the “odds” were that no matter how the evidence would be presented in court, Mr. Stanley would be found “Not guilty.”

That supposition turned out to be disturbingly true. Despite there being more than a sufficient amount of evidence that Mr. Stanley was at least guilty of involuntary manslaughter, the Crown failed to include that option in the charges laid against him. It was then left to a jury having absolutely no Indigenous representative in its dozen to listen to Mr. Stanley’s lawyer then wend his way through an explanation of how a modern day pistol equipped with modern day ammunition could suddenly develop a case of “hang fire”, as though it were an 1850 scattergun loaded with partially dampened cartridges.

One has to wonder in what direction that pistol had been pointed mere milliseconds before the door behind which Colten Boushie sat, passively incapacitated, was opened and Mr. Stanley noted the damaged rifle on the floor of the cab.

My point in bringing back this tainted memory is that on August 11th, Debbie Baptiste, mother of Colten Boushie, in conjunction with FSIN officials once again called for a public inquiry into the circumstances that led to Colten’s death, thereby risking the reopening of the racial divide that gripped this province when we were first told that Colten Boushie had died after being shot while on Mr. Stanley’s Glenside farm.

At the moment, we are in a period of hiatus as the public finally is starting to come to terms with the significance of now just over 6,000 unmarked Indigenous children’s graves have been found on or near residential school lands. We are also starting to deal with, albeit with considerable foot-dragging from our provincial government, and addressing the 91 recommendations for action that came from the Truth and Reconciliation report dealing with the national inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls.

It would be really nice if the people of Saskatchewan fully understood the levels of disdain and scorn that has been heaped upon Indigenous peoples in the last four centuries, a reality that tells us that there have been over 100 MILLION deaths of Aboriginal peoples during that time frame. It might also help if we could stop denying the violence buried within this nation’s history by including in our acknowledgements the realization that such brutality also has a “local” perspective. It could be in our provincial police forces mapping out the many regional burial sites testifying to the handiwork of individuals such as Saskatoon serial killer John Crawford and other others still uncaught as a result of indifferent investigation of well documented Indigenous tragedies. It could be why a fourteen-year-old Indigenous girl once gave grim meaning to Tisdale’s “Land of rape and honey” logo, long since removed from public view.

This is not a one-sided story of our citizens of immigrant extraction have to familiarize themselves; there exist a multiplicity of issues of conscience that Indigenous leaders must face, if we are to give our efforts at reconciliation any chance for success. Even Ms. Baptiste knows that there are decisions of doubt and even shame, as she contemplates the role those persons who accompanied Colten to the site of his eventual death, and how this betrayal of friendships can ever be healed.

Lastly, in moving on issues that the Idle No More Movement has long been asking its male leadership, when will they finally step forward to take responsibility for the proliferation of gangs that thrive under their weakened rule, pretending to be “protecting their own” from colonial-like abuse, when in reality the victims of their often violent actions are the people whom they profess to be protecting.

These tasks, I’m afraid, will have to wait until someone finally outlines how a public inquiry – a sentencing circle, in actuality – will be constructed so as to finally address our racial concerns head-on.

That’s a date for which we all should be planning.

Defining “Sin” in a province overridden with religious ignorance


by Ken MacDougall

When I moved my family to teach in a southwestern town in Saskatchewan, I was called a “newcomer” – not because of that move, but because my family weren’t living here in 1909. After moving into our new temporary home, we decided to take a sightseeing tour of the downtown to get a “feel” for its “neighbourliness”. We soon got our answer; a small green apple thrown at us from a passing pick-up, hurled at my head just as we stopped to admire the display in a merchant’s window. It glanced off my shoulder. barely missing the head of my seven-month old daughter whom I was carrying in a front-mounted carry-all.

“Go back to where you f___ing came from, Squaw Man,” a barely turned 14-year old screamed, as the driver gunned it and sped down the main drag.

Coming off the TransCanada into town, a fresh-faced billboard told us that there were more than twenty different church denominations – in a community of just over 2,000. Some I’d never heard of; however, in school the adherence to fundamentalism by shunning even reference to Darwin led to my having a very large Physics 30 class, strangely composed of mostly bright young women whose mathematical skills were seriously impressive. Listening to conversations about their “boyfriends” took some getting used to, though; most wondered what “he” looked like, or where in the Caribbean they’d be living after graduation. Even so, their teasing of one another mostly took the form of who in the group would bear the first child, then raising them “according to God’s will” as parents and their preacher were commanding.

Young males, however, didn’t seem all that enamoured with the “inevitability” of such religious conformity. Almost half were confirmed alcoholics by the time they finished Grade 10. Not all even made it to graduation.

Even in pre-1990’s studies, such expression of either conformity or rebellion towards extreme religiosity within fundamentalist and “evangelical” families exuded a disturbing statistical relationship. These behaviours were being forcefully acquired by children through the application of strict constraints, like those imposed by parents whose fathers had chosen lifelong military careers.

Psychological journals refer to the phenomenon as “Military Family Syndrome”. Such families are headed by a parent, almost always male, supported by a partner whose love subordinates her questioning of the strictness of family discipline imposed by conformity to military protocol or by preaching of “faith”.

Willfully accepting such behavioural restraints by children has almost always been seen as unacceptable and anti-democratic; this is due to the codifying of temporal relationships between secular thought and religious belief has usually established by defining some “role” for a man or woman as being “equal” according to current belief. For instance, even Europe’s predominant Catholic faith limitedly championed Jesus’s message as one of communal survival, even allowing women to express their “condition” in the presence of God’s own son.

“Doubts” that existed within the framing of such law were left to the Church’s monasteries and nunneries to resolve. Eventually, however, an increasingly frustrated papal leadership saw such questioning of the faith as heresy and the unacceptability of their doctrine; thus, its institutions and clergy now found themselves tasked to highlight the immaculateness of Church law and the leadership that brought it to fruition.

By changing its focus of study, the Catholic aristocracy now found itself challenging secular-driven questions arising from scientific observation, for instance Galileo believing that the Earth was not the centre of the universe demanded recantation for even uttering such blasphemy. This unsettling questioning of scientific observation hasn’t diminished over time, either; in the 1950’s Immanuel Velikovsky’ publication of “Worlds in Collision”, a treatise postulating, among other things, that extraterrestrial havoc allowed for the parting of seas so that Moses could lead Israelites out of their enslavement by Egypt, created an almost crazed denunciation of its content from the Church, much as did Darwin’s theories on evolution or theories as to the age of Earth itself.

By the 1500’s, religious scholars such as Martin Luther and John Calvin were taking exception with the Church’s welcoming those whose interests in seeking papal favour had more to do with the creation of wealth and power than a belief in its faith. In his thoughts expressed in “Temporal Authority”, Luther vaguely suggested that the Church may have been “wrong” in tying secular thought to religious belief, hinting instead that we were but part of two “kingdoms” over which the Creator ruled, one in which He did so exclusively and the other by consensus and philosophical discussion based upon scientific learnings.

Since Reformation, there have come forward an almost avalanche of “interpretations” of Biblical verse, each successively by an increasingly conservative evangelical movement. Today, this sickness clouding the thoughts of those who still believe in a Supreme Deity has created issues that threaten the evolution of the democratic state – racism, the denial of differing sexual orientations existing within some men and women, the right of women to control their own bodies in procreation and birth, and, ironically, an epidemic of intolerance towards those “daring” to challenge the direction in which the majority of these sects have chosen to interpret their faith.

John Calvin, while agreeing with Luther’s sentiments, had a few of his own that might give some of these so-called “evangelical” movements thoughts for second reflection. Whereas there may be “division” between church and state, he suggested, God’s rule over each is governed by the knowledge that your specific point of view, religiously speaking, may be accepted within the secular regime, but you’re not going to find that out until it comes time to be judged when you enter His Kingdom.

In the past two weeks, Canada’s attention has been focused upon the large numbers of unmarked children’s graves, found on the grounds of “residential” schools established by Sir John A. MacDonald’s government, and administered by the Catholic Church. In 1879, the British Empire “ruled the waves” in a brutally benign exhibition of wealth and power. That leadership, which included Canada’s, found it reasonable to believe that the Empire, despite its policies of exploitation of African and Asian populations, its building of a highly lucrative slave trade, and its tacit ignoring of American military preference towards the genocide of its Indigenous peoples or even the “smallpox blanket” “spreading of the faith” as practiced by Portugal, Belgium and Spain, the Empire’s growth in power and wealth came from its adherence, questioned or otherwise, of its Christian religious practice.

The original intent of our government creating these “residential” schools was to remove and isolate Indigenous children from the influence of their home, families, traditions and cultures, and thereby assimilate them into the dominant European culture of Canada. In MacDonald’s own words, “Though he may learn to read and write his habits, and training and mode of thought are Indian. He is simply a savage who can read and write.”

It should be noted that even though most of the Catholic leadership of the day believed that Indigenous people were “without souls”, they were at odds with a papal edict published by Pope Paul III in 1537, wherein he would proclaim that Indigenous peoples were human and welcome to learn on their own time the teachings of Jesus. In actuality, then, it wasn’t as though Indigenous peoples had no “soul” or religious custom; rather, it was the European culture’s singular worshipping of wealth defining the ascension to world power as opposed to Indigenous custom, where land was not “property”, but a shared resource husbanded and nurtured by its people. In particular, the potlatch, which saw its practitioners give away their wealth, was particularly “pagan” and an apparent contradiction to the current beliefs of Christianity, and therefore should be “outlawed” – which it eventually was.

This brings us back then to the outpouring of disgust towards the Catholic Church (while ignoring that of the Anglican and United churches participation) in administering our residential school system. It is not the way most of us today, irrespective of our own religious beliefs, would want to see the popular hymn phrase, “Suffer, little children” become our – or God’s – way of having Indigenous children “come unto” Him.

And so I come back to our children and my experience as a teacher in wondering why in a world in which we are laden with miracle medical advances such as the Covid-19 vaccines and technology that allows us to measure soil nutrients on Mars, why this first experience in coming back to Saskatchewan still disturbs.

I’m “white” AND non-Indigenous; and yet a barely 14 year-old saw me as something else whose lifestyle and parenting techniques should be challenged in a violent yet anonymous manner. Someone taught that child to “think” like that: his parents, the messages he was receiving from the pulpit, or a government whose membership embraced similar scripture interpretations and annoyances to life.

You make the call here…

Public apathy towards current educational needs portend future economic malaise for province

by Ken MacDougall

It’s getting to the point where I’m starting to feel like Don Quixote, no longer with lance, and a horse who’d sooner stop for lunch than carry me into another battle. Having been warned well in advance by NDP Education critic Carla Beck that this year’s budget will deliver still another fiscal blow to our schools’ needs, Saskatchewan Rivers Public School Division trustees are being forced to accept a budget with positional losses.

Director of Education Robert Bratvold maintains that due to grant losses, the Division made the decision to NOT replace ANY of the 25 retiring teachers and temporary contract holders, so that it could slash just over $2 million from the 2021 / 2022 anticipated budget. Chief Financial Officer Jerrold Pidborochynski had his own dour news to deliver to trustees, noting that grant funding for special needs programs were also down, which will result in an additional shortfall of some $1.2 million. However, the public should be overly alarmed by this news, as in the words of Mr. Bratvold, “Nobody will get laid off.”


Despite both Mr. Bratvold and Pidborochynski’s sugar coating of the reasons behind this educational shortfall, there is no hiding the fact that Boss Hogg, aka Scott Moe, leader of the Descendants of Devine, aka the Saskatchewan Party, are continuing to trivialize and deny their part in the ignoring of educational concerns brought forward by both parents and teachers alike during this pandemic It did not help parents feel any better when the government took its sweet time in elevating teachers to the status of “essential workers”, while making it a point of pride to delay teacher access to vaccination until very late in the school year.

Add to these parents’ concerns was the fact that the Moe cabal appeared to be taking its advice on how to react to the spreading of the virus more from the Yahoo Nation of anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, Trudeau haters, thugs professing that Covid was nothing more than a “flu” – or worse, that the events of the last year have been nothing more than a hoax perpetuated by government seeking to exert greater “control” of the behaviour of its unruly citizens demanding “freedom” from “unnecessary, economy-killing lock-downs” and respect for their “right” to transmit the virus in total ignorance of their role-playing in this medical catastrophe.

Despite this government’s inability to live up to its election promises, Scott Moe’s popularity spontaneously elevates with the identification of every transgression in policies – or lack thereof – enacted by his government. Playing the Republican Party version of the “Austerity Game”, the DoD has to date been able to weather the storm that delivery of school budgets such as Saskatchewan Rivers has unleashed public anger and second thoughts even in the “true believers” as to just what kind of “plan of action” the Saskatchewan Party is even following as it muddles from crisis to crisis.

In several of my last few columns, I have quoted Roger Miller and his mid-1990’s thesis that educational disinvestment has brought us to the point of being almost “dangerously unprepared to prosper” – and I know that more than one or two members of the Saskatchewan Party view such thoughts as threatening to their way of doing business. Still, our current economic malaise, whether that’s found in the DoD’s inability to diversify our economy, or failing to get our minds off the “good old days” when non-renewable resource-based royalties allowed us to keep up with the Joneses, provides ample testimony to the reality that the Saskatchewan Party has simply passed its “Best before” date, if it ever had one in the first place.

The reticence with which we approach this needed reform is that we have too many politicians, particularly those on the right of the political spectrum, who believe that as long s we have the good old United States of America as our next-door neighbour and political “partner”, nothing can possibly hurt us so badly that our standard of living will crash around our ears.

This unfettered capitalist dream world fogging the brains of our leaders requires several large buckets of cold water so that reality might again define the central focal point of our discussion. The United States has its own “issues” in President Biden’s attempt to stimulate economic growth with the creative power of intellectual thought generating radical and progress-changing innovation. Cyber-terrorist attacks upon major U.S. businesses and service industries have shown that nation’s potential weakness in addressing what amount to new fronts being opened on the terrorist front, yet STILL the United States has a Republican party combining its own brand of mind-altering drugs Trump=speak that – apparently – has almost 40% of its population believing that the only “true” terrorist attack threatening the destruction of American democracy is coming from the ballot box.

In forging our own methods of revitalizing our educational system, we have to stop pretending that an illiterate America, led by presidents such as Trump who once considered staying the spread of the Covid-19 virus by injecting chlorine-based cleaners into our bloodstreams, and Texas Congressional representative Louie Gohmert maintaining that the Bureau of Land Management and National Forest Service could put an end to climate change by simply altering the orbit of the moon, are going to help us to economically survive. The bogeyman standing in the way of our intellectual revitalization is not some pizza and flesh-eating pedophile related to the Clintons or the Rothchilds; it’s our own too-eager willingness to settle for the status quo and a return to some time warp called “the good old days”.

We want our children to be taught, and taught well, by teachers who have a vast knowledge of the curriculum they are given to teach our young, for our children to be exposed to as much of life as they can intellectually comprehend and muster into making themselves better global citizens.

More to the point, we want teacher to have class sizes that allow the teaching of comprehensive subject matter, and still more consultants who can continue to channel new knowledge into their teachings, thus challenging children to learn, as opposed to them grabbing for their phones because things are so “bore-ing”.When you lose 25 persons “en bloc”, as will the Saskatchewan Rivers school division, you’re not just playing around with people “having to do a little more” just to get by; you’re creating a moral sinkhole of delusion in believing that things will be “steady as they go” with the loss of so much learning.

At the moment, only the Catholic school system can “fix” the already identified problem areas within the educational orbit, as they have the option of going to its ratepayers and asking for variation in mill rates to cover increased school budgetary needs. It appears that it is now time for the public school system to regain that power, thus giving voice to trustees who have thought beyond the boundaries of acceptance that Directors of education are presenting to them in their well-trimmed budgets.

The NDP estimates that it would require an additional $160 million or more just to bring our school standards back to what they were in 2007, when the DoD first came to power. These are not the numbers of some “tax and spend” party seeking re-entrance to governing, but in the reality of just how damages we have allowed the educational system to endure.

Trustees know that these shortcomings exist, and it’s about time that they told the public the truth. And having said as such, I would sincerely hope that in the forthcoming elections for school trusteeships, some of these candidates might have the courage to bring this case to the public’s attention.

Why educational reform and cost-cutting measures never seem to work

by Ken MacDougall

As a teacher of one of the less favourite subjects in the curriculum – Mathematics, I almost always dread the coming of that first time teachers have the “opportunity” to meet parents and discuss their children’s “progress”. Why that is has nothing to do with the students themselves; they’ve already made up their minds about me, whether it’s my propensity to ask them to explain some obscure mathematical theory (to them, anyway) we’d just gone over and they might have missed, what with they’re being “distracted” by the buzz on their phone indicating the arrival of some urgent bulletin from a friend tracking the whereabouts of their current love-life interest, or my asking them to pass in their now long overdue assignment I’d only reminded them about yesterday, which was “embarrassing” because I was so “public” with this pronouncement.

Personally, if that’s all the commotion I’d receive in such audiences, I wouldn’t have a thing to worry about, parental blow-back or otherwise; introduce me to a Vice Principal who “enjoys” calling a teacher down to the office for a “chat” about a “concerned parent”, and I’ll show you someone who’s given up on ever becoming a principal, is close to retiring, or is running for some form of political office in the near future. No, my “problem” is one that I’m sharing with an increasingly larger congregation of teachers, is having to deal with a parent who, no matter how delicately, politely or substantiated by fact you present concerns respecting the child’s academic issues, the only sound I’ll be hearing for the remainder of the interview is that of a Bell helicopter hovering overhead, as the parent launches into their by now standardized refrain of “my child can do no wrong” defensive formation.

In studying the issue of academic competence, particularly in Mathematics, I have come to the conclusion that the “helicopter parent” is nothing more than a byproduct of an educational system being overwhelmed by technological innovation, pressured by consumer and manufacturer alike to provide some reason, feeble or otherwise, to have schools integrate usage of these utensils into the curriculum, if only for their potential to “break down” student resistance to conceptual theories that will define progress for the next century.

Or not…

It isn’t as though the child of a helicopter parent has no exposure to the latest technologies; rather, it’s usually just the opposite, namely, that they have every conceivable new toy, game and peripheral that our electronic manufacturers can find rubes to buy; it’s just that the “educational” component is downgraded by the slick marketing of Internet chat rooms where one’s “status” is not only tied to the toys one owns, but enhanced by the user’s capacity to post super-pixeled memes or glamorous photographs of said child surrounded by hearts and sporting a beagle’s warm and wet nasal overlap of one’s own features.

If one tracks back to the origins of enhanced technologies suddenly seeking placement in a classroom environment, we realize that this wasn’t an educational incentive driven by STEM-educated teacher consultants foreseeing some bright future for this product, but by workplaces wishing to remain competitive with foreign manufacturers, particularly from China, Japan, Korea and Singapore, and realizing that the only way this could happen would be for productivity improvement to grow by the increased usage of technology.

The problem with manufacturers proceeding with such upgrade was that back when this need was first realized, 1980’s, bank interest rates exceeded 20 per cent or more – and that was before finding the necessarily trained work force to make such investment worthwhile.

Therefore, the most “logical” way for industry to proceed was to have schools incorporate new software designs (office productivity tools such as word processing, or CADD being the first products backed by such rationale) into curriculum, so that the on-the-job learning curve costs could be minimized.

Three major problems existed in immediately applying such logic to the implementation of this strategy. First, schools themselves were being forced by government to implement serious cost-cutting measures, but such efforts weren’t deep enough to cover the cost of new networked computers and specialized multi-user teaching software.

Secondly, most school boards may have had “end users” of the software product itself, but their lack of STEM-trained teachers having familiarity with the overall potential of the software’s productivity tools often necessitated school boards to hire corporate-trained staff to be brought in to conduct initial training sessions, further increasing the costs of delivery of this service.

Finally, virtually NO school board in Saskatchewan has yet to present a proposal to government that would address the need for perpetual upgrading of systems and software, moved to change the curriculum requirements for graduation so as to incentivize potential high school graduates to consider teaching careers in STEM-related programs, nor addressed the issue of teaching each and every employee of the school division – office staff, administrators, maintenance staff, teachers and educational assistants – how to use even the most basic of productivity tools to their own advantage, much less train their students on how to best use these new tools in increasing their own academic performance levels.

Since returning to the teaching profession in 2004, I have been able to convince four school boards in western Canada into constructing networked systems where staff and students down to and including Kindergarten level were both able to log into the network AND store documentation and homework assignments on private space found on the network itself, thus making it secure and safe from potential attack by viruses or other forms of malware.

Unfortunately, there are few apostles, other than possibly former PAGC systems engineer Don Dore, who fully understand both the complexity of putting such tools into our schools, while recognizing the potential of such arrangement to transfer itself into substantial academic gain and understanding of subject materials.

As for remediation software, there exists a whole rack of software tools (IXL and SuccessMaker being but two examples) where teachers may simply send students to receive the “drill work” necessary to obtain facility with, say, mathematics, yet fall into questionable repair once the complexities of writing an essay, as an example, are in serious need by the student.

However, it is relatively simple and straightforward for a student to build a template that handles the structural needs of an essay’s format (line spacing, paragraph indent, and font selection as an example), opening up a new document for the student, and then having them press the microphone button to dictate content, then using the spelling checker to clean up language, and then – and only then – having the teacher come over and utilize the cut-and-paste aspects of the processor to put together the introduction / body / conclusion arrangement of these thoughts.

Or perhaps you don’t mind your children not having the faintest idea on how to spell even the simplest words, much less you as a parent getting annoyed to learn that “lol” really means “laughing out loud”, as opposed to “lots of love”.

Yes, that one got me, as well…

Instead of cutting costs, school board “investment” in technology has only added an increased burden to funding education, and reforming its delivery to our students.

In all honesty, most equipment in today’s school labs is paperweight, an unnecessary expenditure solving few issues brought forward by our need to modernize – reform – the way schools deliver knowledge to our students.

Still, with our economies being threatened by mostly the south-east Asian nations attempting to compete with us, we have to “fix” our ways of utilizing the latest developments in technology. with our lives being better lived through the usage of new technologies.
Unfortunately, we also have to start muzzling the small group of literacy consultants and other “experts” that contend when students finally realize the “potential” of their new phones or other toys, “learning the ‘seven-times’ table” will no longer become a problem in understanding mathematics.

Perhaps singling out literacy consultants for their oratorial praise of cellular phones and tablets may sound like a “cheap shot”, but technology still has the IBM “patch” problem in all of its processors – its inability to divide by 5, and kept the original IMB PC off the market for more than six months, as well as the fact that even the latest of spreadsheets from Microsoft still can’t perform calculations to the specifications of BEDMAS, unless we pre-bracket our own “patches” to how number operations are to be calculated.

Are our children “doomed”, thanks to educational system’s failure to effectively use and control technological development?

Probably not, but that’s only because most students are now getting the message that they have to work slightly harder in order to better achieve in life.

Only a continuation of this trend will assure the eventual extinction of the helicopter parent’s role in “dumbing down” our children’s educational experiences.

STILL TO COME: Reforming instruction in the learning of second languages, evaluating student performance, making healthy lifestyle choices, and expanding the role of physical education as required in order to make school reform meaningful, both for the student and the stature of our future economy.

30 years of the same old lies


by Ken MacDougall

Even after moving to Saskatoon in1982, I still remember picking up a copy of the Star Phoenix, turning to the Opinion page, then throwing the paper to the ground in disgust after reading an opinion piece written by a member the North Saskatoon Business Association, quoting from Saskatchewan’s top source of fiscal mis-and-disinformation – the Saskatchewan Taxpayers Federation.

Now, if you haven’t read anything about what I’ve written in the past about the STF, you should at least know that it is NOT an organization where one merely buys a membership and contributes policy ideas to their editorial writing board. Its operations are heavily skewed towards extreme American right-wing politicians advocating for unfettered capitalism and minimalist taxation policies from government. Moreover, the very existence of the STF and its national wing, the CTF, is funded by a similar collection of policy forum groups far to the right of the Fraser Institute, most of whom, like the CTF and STF, owe their existence to Koch Enterprises financed organizations.

Back in the 1990’s, you may recall that the Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall was a member in good standing with a collection of western American state governors, and in 2011 was a keynote speaker at the annual conference of the American Legislative Exchange Council, another Koch-funded group responsible for the production of templated anti-union and pro-unfettered capitalist legislation.

It was from this organization that the Descendants of Devine and Premier Wall “borrowed” their 2012 labour legislation that contained a “right to work” clause eventually deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and ending up costing the government some $5 million in legal fees alone to defend its terms.

Now, the STF and CTF predominately write editorial pieces drawing attention to perceived abuse and lack of due diligence in our government’s handling of fiscal matters – which is just fine with me, as I’m no big fan of paying more than my share of our nation’s tax burden. What drives me insane about their column’s content, however, is their almost obsequious divination of the American extreme right’s worshipping of the capitalist system, as per the Koch playbook. The strangest thing is, I have YET to meet anyone, American or otherwise, who believes in paying $20,000 or more a year for decent health care for a family of four, having no paid vacation time at work, having no paid maternity leave, or having labour categories where it’s legal to pay a worker who relies on tips less than you pay your babysitter, then God speed your emigration request. No, thank you; however, if you send me your new address, I’ll ship you an occasional can of Tim’s “fair trade” ground coffee just so you don’t get homesick.

On May 13th, the Herald, as it occasionally does, ran an article from an editorial content group going under the name of Troy Media, entitled “Canadians Sinking Under a $1,000,000,000 Debt”. What was interesting about this piece, other than its content, was that it was written by Franco Terrazzano, head of the Canada and Saskatchewan Taxpayers Federation.

That number with all of the zeroes is actually $1 trillion; that’s about a quarter of the current U.S. deficit, which exploded after Donald Trump’s Republican friends decided to give the richest of Americans a massive tax break.

The serfs, of course, would “benefit” – eventually, apparently from some voodoo economic process called “trickle down economics”, which takes a few decades longer than the average working American male would take to pass a large kidney stone – and needing that money for his operation.

The $1 trillion number also refers to rumours circulating around Ottawa about the size of the next federal budget, a prospect that has our bored pundits lathering up for eminent vote of confidence and forthcoming election that Prime Minister Trudeau would then have to call.

There are lots of points in this article that simply don’t make any sense. Yes, I understand why Mr. Terrazzano would focus upon the federal budget to make his point; most Saskatchewan and Alberta male voters to the right of reality look forward to a battle with the trust fund PM, and this article merely acts as a piece of foreplay for the electorate before indulging in an ugly campaign. To most of these readers, it’s not the “size” of the deficit; Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario have larger “per capita” budgets to theoretically balance, and in any case, Alberta and Ontario are on “our side” in “standing up for Saskatchewan” in our dispute with the feds over the imposition of the carbon tax.

Ah, but the Supreme Court’s decision DID take the air out of our sails, didn’t It? So, what better way to replenish our adrenalin supply than to imagine the neon lights flashing in Mr. Terrazzano’s article, that being, “Just look what Justin is leaving for your grandchildren”.

The problem is, I don’t really think Mr. Terrazzano fully understands the mind-think mentality of those who still believe that Scott Moe and the DoD MLA’s are “their kind of people”, especially when you consider that the Saskatchewan Party’s membership includes the three playboys funding the Canada Growth Council. These are the thugs who, during the last federal election trotted out WestWatch, a non-party-funded political action committee (PAC) promoting western alienation and separation, and for good measure took a few good jabs at Canada’s immigration policies. To add to this poison, they took special delight in hurling rock-sized insults at the only Liberal MP in Saskatchewan, Ralph Goodale, who really is more “Dipper” than “liberal”, and is probably the only MP in Canada whom the majority of our nation knows as representing this province.

There were a few letters of outrage written to our newspaper editors expressing total disgust at the way WestWatch treated Mr. Goodale, so perhaps a few of the saner voices in the DoD and Progressive Conservative camp might just decide to tell the CGC cabal to turn the “hate” volume down a notch or six, and pay more attention to the platform the Conservatives are now slowly introducing. Somehow, however, I don’t see what issues might light up the Conservative fire starters than the deficit or a more sensible plan to address climate change issues and the carbon tax as its primary weapon. But then, how the Tories plan to introduce their own version of a carbon tax isn’t getting much traction from either the Opposition OR the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The Liberals have already given it the slogan, the more you burn, the more you earn”, while the CTF, which is already tearing Alberta premier Jason Kenney apart for even thinking of finally imposing a provincial tax to balance their gaping $100 billion deficit, adds Erin O’Toole’s anaemic carbon tax proposal as costing the equivalent of about two rental payments for a three bedroom apartment in downtown Winnipeg. That’s no oxygen the CTF is giving the Conservatives to breathe; it’s helium, because the only thing left on the Conservative platform plate is O’Toole’s ranting about the CBC, which even by itself needs no stimulus to engender a laugh in an increasingly jaundiced electorate.

I have to also admit that Mr. Terrazzano’s choice of back-ups for his argument, budget-busters Janice MacKinnon, former NDP Minister of Finance1 in dealing with the Devine bankruptcy and Paul Martin, federal Liberal Minister of Finance tackling the Mulroney crater, are good ones. It shows that he’s at least giving the impression of being objective, but for one small problem: what caused those budgets to implode were bank interest rates running as high as 21%; whereas today’s prime rate is what – hovering around the 1% mark?

Simply put, Mr. Terrazzano, the economics of debt repayment are NOT “equivalent” in these two eras.

As far as our national deficit is concerned, virtually every Canadian KNOWS that it has radically increased in size as a result of our federal government having to go to war with the Covid virus. In other words, our government was doing its job PROTECTING the public’s health. Now that the efforts to control the virus spread are starting to work, despite the conspiracy theorists who still believe Covid is nothing more than a flu, the government must now consider how to re-establish budgetary priorities to get our economy moving again.

Here in Canada, the Conservatives have no plan but to continue to point to the deficit and pour gasoline on their “hate” agenda targeting Prime Minister Trudeau. In the United States, however, the Democratic Party has identified key elements of economic stagnation caused by the tariff wars imposed on various nations by former President Donald Trump, and that have allowed China to gain ground on the U.S. hold of having the world’s strongest economy. To address that problem, they have proposed a $3 trillion infrastructure plan that will for the first time include technological concerns, including providing high speed Internet service to its nation’s agricultural communities, “green” energy research, and education, particularly in the area of producing more workers trained in STEM-related fields, and the teachers necessary to provide the education to do so.

It is widely anticipated that the U.S. government will fund their infrastructure plan by taking advantage of current low interest rates and moderate tax increases upon corporations and high income earners, especially those whose incomes are derived from stock exchange activities. The remainder of the debt would be dealt with by the release of government bonds carrying slightly greater than prime interest rates at the moment, but guaranteed by the federal government – the same strategy that was used to garner funds for the United States to fight World War II against Hitler.

Canada has similar needs, particularly in education, as I’ve stressed time and time again. We need a high speed rail system as well, and while tax rates may go up in some areas, our nation has to look at taking away the power of certain sectors of the economy, particularly with banks and communications.

As for raising monies, we, too, as a nation sold bonds to finance seemingly bottomless deficits.

In the MacKinnon / Martin era, Smiling Jack Gallagher and petroleum entities could walk into main bank offices on Toronto’s Bay Street and write their own cheques in order to keep their seat at Alberta’s petroleum-based poker table, so radical surgery to the deficit was eventually required. For this plan to work now, the banks will have to stop feeding the fires of consumer overspend at 24% interest rates, and for once play a key role in helping the government work itself out of this fiscal hole. That is the ONLY impediment to this idea not working to our satisfaction.

In a nutshell, this plan is built upon sound economic and mathematical principles. As a mathematics teacher, I like that – very much.

  1. (As an “aside”, you should stop using DoD disinformation in describing Ms. MacKinnon’s area of budgetary concern, Mr. Terrazzano. The NDP didn’t “close” 52 hospitals – unless of course you believe that Dr. Paul Albert, when he was still in Climax, could do heart surgery using kitchen forceps as “rib crackers”, or were present when I heard Eastend’s Dr. Anthony Price, rave about how much more he could do with his newly modernized “hospital” – which even had his office relocated to the new health centre. And it was a combination of doctors from Eastend, Climax, Shaunavon and occasionally Gull Lake who gathered in Shaunavon to do minor surgeries; mostly performed by Dr. Price.
    The major tasks, however, were sent to Swift Current, Medicine Hat, Calgary, Saskatoon or Regina to be handled by specialists.)

Making a Case for Educational Reform

by Ken MacDougall

Two things that have continued to drive me crazy over the past ten years of teaching is, first, how little we expect our children to know before they matriculate, and secondly, how once they do have that certificate, how many believe that their educational “experience” has finally come to an end. In this age of “helicopter parenting”, a polite way to describe parents who fight their children’s educational battles, this sense of “graduation” by the child is viewed as a success. Moreover, it gives false testimony to those who now believe their children are fully prepared to manage their own lives and contribute to the betterment of society.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. What is being described here is a phenomenon of negative educational reform that promotes success through mediocrity, and where the “bare minimum” of 24 credits earned in Grades 10 through 12 earns a child the “right” to never have to strenuously think again.

I have referenced journalist Roger Miller thesis on educational disinvestment on several occasions of late, a process wherein governments have since the mid-1990’s made it a point to not provide sufficient fiscal support for educational advancement. This, in turn, has led to the destruction of whatever competitive advantage we had as a nation with one of the highest standards of living world-wide. What is equally galling is that even before our governments even started their fiscal march towards intellectual disinvestment, we have allowed ourselves to elect governments that believe whatever we might accomplish in life, it’s not really good enough, or there’s some nation in the world – usually the United States – that can do much better.

One has only to examine some of the more inept policy decisions made by predominately conservative-leaning governments to make this point. For instance, the world-renowned Connaught Laboratories, whose research efforts included the development of heparin (blood thinners) to aid in cardiac care, the manufacture of typhus and polio vaccines, as well as penicillin, was privatized by the Mulroney government in the early 1970’s, leaving Canada with no means to contribute towards the development of possible cures or vaccines against, first, Ebola, and now the pandemic induced by the COVID-19 virus.

Equally asinine military policy decisions abound. As a nation we tend to – sort of – acknowledge our military’s many achievements in world campaigns. We know our Canadian soldiers know how to fight, as was witness at Vimy Ridge in WW-I, or in the success of our sniper units in Afghanistan in the world’s first assaults against al qaeda terrorist forces, but God help us if we have to actually spend money equipping them for battle. Former Prince Albert resident John G. Diefenbaker was conned into believing that the Avro Arrow fighter jet prototypes being built in Malton, ON, were already obsolete, thereby giving Boeing an opportunity to unload their poorly designed Bomarc missile system as an “effective” way to halt potential Russian air strikes against North American targets. Then, realizing the limitation of these “advanced military weapons”, we purchased four squadrons of Lockheed’s F-104 StarFighter for use by the RCAF, an unstable craft Canadian pilots would soon come to nickname the “Widowmaker” – with good cause.

Indeed, one can’t help but marvel at how riveted Canadian conservatives are in noting that nothing is as “good” as equipment manufactured in the good United States, or – maybe – Germany. What this means, politically speaking, is that every time the Quebec or Ottawa governments provide supplementary funding to Bombardier, the St. Lawrence River will run saline for days with the anguished tears of Conservative MP’s. However, let Stephen Harper write another $10 billion cheque to fund Lockheed Martin’s “research fund” the F-35 Lightning, and it’s, “Well, at least we’re not buying $600 hammers like the Pentagon…”

Our nation’s seeming contempt for Canadian intellectualism is also on prominent display here in the fly-over province. Thanks to both the Devine and Wall / Moe government’s indifference, those with impressive skills are often forced to go elsewhere to work. For instance, following a Saskatchewan Medical Association move to initiate a discussion with software developers on how to best create and store medical records, the Devine government went out and contracted SAIC (Science Applications International Corporation), not to be confused with the prestigious school of art located in Chicago), a Pentagon supplier of various weapons of mass destruction, whose only link to health care was its minimally functioning recordkeeping software designed for United States military hospitals. UTLAS (University of Toronto Library Automation Systems), at that time housed in Regina, saw the writing on the wall for future developers, and moved out of province within six months of that move.

Right now, the government of Saskatchewan is sitting on a bundle of potential projects that, were we to have the “people” resources fluent enough to handle such missions, would snap our economy back to attention in a heartbeat. The problem is, it would also require the government to give some serious thought as to the restructuring and funding of education. Moreover, not all such funding need be directed to what our labour forces tend to refer to as the “geek trades”. Germany, for instance, has successfully demonstrated to the world that an educational philosophy placing equal value on the contribution to its economy of “blue collar” workers is not only profitable, but plays a large part in upgrading our standard of living. Industrial – educational “co-operative” programs have only enhanced tradespersons’ skills apprenticing for journeyman status, producing a quality of worker worthy of “Bachelor” status on a degree-based system. Germany has also been able to establish Master’s and Doctorate-equivalent programs requiring more creative and innovative approaches to trades enhancement, which in turn has motivated industry to consider key elements of their labour force as management resources – something only the most enlightened of industries in Canada or the United States would even consider.

To accomplish these reforms alone requires two major funding adjustments be pursued by our Department of Education. First, the number of credits required for graduation should be increased to at least 30, and secondly, at least one Mathematics and two Science or Technology-based credits should be appended to the Grade 12 level of classes offered in every high school in this province. In other words, we have to recruit or train many more teachers specializing in STEM-based subject areas, so that we do not fall behind in the innovative production of break-through technologies, particularly in the areas of renewal and conservation.

For the moment, then, we will leave the need for greater language facilitation in our schools and our quest for integrating our Indigenous peoples into the economic mainstream of the Canadian economy to another column. Our Constitution recognizes the dual role both the French and English played in moving this country to nationhood, but we still haven’t really addressed the colonialist mentality of our Euro-centric citizenry we still manage to project upon our nation’s true founders. Thus, our educational reform “issues list” is still far from complete.

Skeptics who find flaws in my reasoning may be, and perhaps should be asking questions as to embarking upon the reform pathway I’ve already mapped out. Typically, their inquiry might well begin with the question, “If we go through with this obviously expensive reform, to what purpose would these newly acquired skills be used?”

Here are but a few examples:

1. We could diversity the agricultural market, expanding our services to market gardening and specialized crop experimentation to address the issues created by global warming

2. We need enhanced north-south transportation, preferably through high speed rail. Why not require those benefiting from taxpayer relief see it as their corporate responsibility to take on such a project, so that our north is finally well-looked after?

3. We might finally be able to put a full-time research team to work addressing the environmental concerns created by the Quill Lakes pollution problems

4. We could start to manufacture our own “green” and “renewable” product lines, rather than having to buy them from someone else, as we now do with solar panelling

5. We could finally allow SaskTel the opportunity to provide our rural communities with high speed, affordable Internet service, so as to make the agricultural sector more competitive world-wide

6. We could have scientific monitoring of proposed irrigation projects now being pushed by the DoD, without having to worry about turning such projects such as the Lake Diefenbaker area into another Quill Lake disaster

7. We could address the need to finally make the Port of Churchill viable by resolving construction of a high-speed rail line into the community to handle grain and passenger traffic, and develop a road service to that community

8. Instead of worrying about pipelines to the United States, we could lay the groundwork for such infrastructure to lead to the Port of Churchill, and

9. We could start to address the serious need to incorporate Indigenous people into the economic mainstream of our society, without bitterness

I guess the real question for the future should be, “Is anyone in government really listening?”