Throne Speech Debate (7 November 2006)
Throne Speech Debate
From Hansard - 7 November 2006
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Mr. McMorris: — Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It’s certainly a privilege to stand and enter into the debate on the Speech from the Throne. I don’t know if I’ve ever stood right after question period to enter into debate because what I really would rather do is just talk about what the minister just answered and the lack of answers from the Department of Community Resources and Employment and how they’re absolutely stonewalling. He says they want scrutiny, and they don’t want scrutiny. And he says there’s minutes, but he won’t provide them and all of those things.
But that really wasn’t what I wanted to talk about. It’s what you really want to gravitate to when you first stand up after question period, but certainly there are a number of things that I want to talk about regarding the Speech from the Throne and some of the comments that were made on that side of the House as we’ve gone through this past six or seven days on replying.
But before I get to that, there are a number of thank yous that I want to also express, and it starts with the constituency and the constituents of Indian Head-Milestone and how fortunate I am to represent such a fine group of people. Every year as we travel our constituencies — which I know members on both sides of the House spend a lot of time doing — you get to meet and renew friendships that you’ve made in . . . over past years and meet new people. And I can tell you that every year that as I travel my constituency I’m impressed by the work ethic and the commitment to our province, Mr. Speaker. In spite of the government that’s in power right now — and I hear that an awful lot — in spite of the government that’s in power they still are committed to the province and want to remain here and raise their family and work.
We’ve been fortunate for the most part in the constituency of Indian Head-Milestone which is mostly agriculture. The small area along the Qu’Appelle Valley of course is more geared towards tourism, that type of thing, around the Fort Qu’Appelle area, but the majority of the constituency is based in agriculture.
And I can say that we have been fortunate over the last two years to have two pretty darn good harvests. It could always be better, but they have been overall a good average crop. Of course last year we battled the low commodity prices, but right now there is a certain amount of optimism as the prices are moving up. You know, you’re seeing the canolas and the canary seeds and flax and lentils rising in price. It’s interesting that none of which are marketed under the wheat board, but they are actually rising in price. And I know we’re going to have certainly a chance to talk about the wheat board issue as we go on.
But the constituents of Indian Head-Milestone, and I can honestly say, are hardworking individuals that, you know, when it comes to issues such as agriculture I tend not to get a lot of phone calls because they feel that, you know, they’re taking it upon themselves and working through the problems such as crop insurance with low coverage and high premiums and things like that. They’re dealing with that for the most part on their own.
The other . . . a number of other thank yous of course is to my family and all the support that I’ve had from my wife, Cindy, and our two boys, Craig and Mark, and their busy lives whether it’s . . . it seems to be all into the boarding sports now. They’re into wakeboarding and snowboarding, but they certainly understand when I can’t be around at times. They still support me in what I am doing.
The other person and individual that I really wanted to thank . . . And most of the MLAs have talked about their constituency assistant. I too have what I think is probably one of the strongest, if not the strongest . . . I guess every MLA would say that. Well yes, I think everybody’s agreeing with me that my constituency assistant, Vonni Widdis, does an excellent job for me in our office in Balgonie dealing with constituents from the constituency of Indian Head-Milestone.
But since I have taken on the . . . have been asked to take on the role as Health critic, I know the workload for her has certainly gone up. Because you don’t . . . We don’t just have health concerns in the area I represent. There are health concerns throughout the province and she fields a number of those phone calls — in fact an awful lot of those phone calls — and deals with the issues that are presented to us. We try and deal with as many of them as possible by going through the steps that the minister has laid out, whether it’s the quality care coordinator or the cancer advocate or professionals like that.
But there are times when results just don’t come the way they’re supposed to and where people are waiting extremely long time . And some of those people want to go public, and certainly Vonni has helped them with that.
Along with our researchers here in the building, Terry Gudmundson and her research staff have done an absolutely excellent job sorting through the mounds and mounds of health concerns that we have come through this office.
Madam Deputy Speaker, and I can only say, thank you and thank you and thank you. Because of all the cases that we have brought forward, you know, we’ve never had any that have been misquoted by us. And, Madam Deputy Speaker, the research that has been done on each and every one of those cases has been ideal. And when they come to the floor, Mr. Speaker, they are because this is where . . . this is their last resort, and this is where they had to be, Mr. Speaker.
I want to congratulate — as a number of the members on our side have done — congratulate the new member from Weyburn-Big Muddy who just did an absolutely wonderful job, not just during the election but in the lead up to the election. It was a hotly contested nomination, and for the NDP, what that means, there’s more than one candidate running for a position.
It was a hotly contested nomination in which our successful candidate beat out two other strong candidates. And I wanted to thank both those other candidates, Audrey Trombley and Mrs. Young, for putting their names forward because we certainly knew that whoever won that nomination race would be a very good representative in this legislature because that would be the next step.
As is usual, on our side of the House anyway, the toughest part of getting to this place is winning the nomination because it’s usually the general election or the election of a . . . a by-election is maybe not nearly as hard as winning the nomination race. So congratulations for Dustin for a great . . . or for the member from Weyburn-Big Muddy for a good job in the nomination race, but more importantly a wonderful job in the election.
I know when we were sitting in the House and bantering back and forth — the Deputy Premier and I would talk back and forth — and I remember saying that I believe, I have the feeling that this NDP government and their candidate, who is the local candidate, will be finishing in third place. I believe that he’ll be finishing in third place.
Well the deputy minister, the member from Yorkton, said ah, that could never . . . that will never happen. There is no way that we will finish in third place in Weyburn-Big Muddy, the home of Tommy Douglas. There is no way that we could finish third. Well lo and behold, lo and behold, to the Deputy Premier, I wish we would have put. . . To the Deputy Premier, I wish we would have put a little wager on that as to where they would finish, Madam Deputy Speaker. Because I said they’d finish third, and lo and behold they finished below the Liberals. And in Saskatchewan just after a federal election that is pretty tough to do, is to finish below the Liberals. But, Madam Deputy Speaker, the NDP are able to do that.
The other person that I would like to thank and compliment on the work that she has done in this Chamber is our Clerk, Gwenn Ronyk, who has been here. . . I have been here for seven years. I know she was here for a few more years than that and has done absolutely wonderful work in this Chamber.
I can tell you that when I was elected in 1999 some of the first orientations that were done she led and really did, really. . . The first thing that I was so impressed was the professionalism that was put forward. But also with professionalism was a feeling of being comfortable, and knowing that if we had questions on how the system worked and issues around what went on in the Legislative Assembly that we could go to her and talk to her.
And the reason that I am saying that is because I believe that this is the last session that she will be the Clerk. As of December 31, I believe she will be retiring and she will be missed. And so thank you on behalf of myself, and I know members on this side of the House, for a job well done over the years that she has been here.
Well, Madam Deputy Speaker, what I really want to get to is what I have been hearing in this Chamber over the last six or seven days, the replies from the Speech from the Throne. And I can say that many members on our side of the House really hit some points that were well researched and certainly caused one to think about this Throne Speech and how effective it was.
But I also listened to replies from that side of the House. And I was interested . . . I think if a person really didn’t know where we were on the electoral cycle — if it was first year, second year in — I think after listening to some of the speeches on that side of the House we would definitely know where we are in the electoral cycle because many of those speeches were nothing more than political tirades getting ready for the next provincial election. I remember two years ago after the Speech from the Throne it wasn’t nearly as politically charged as what those members are making it in their replies to the Speech from the Throne.
And a few of the words that . . . and I just remember a couple — whether it’s a member from Saskatoon Nutana or a member from Prince Albert Northcote — the word that comes to mind so automatically is self-righteous. How self-righteous they were, which I really find is really quite interesting because I remember listening to the Premier after the Weyburn-Big Muddy by-election. And after the Weyburn-Big Muddy by-election, where they finished . . . By the way, did I mention that they finished third in the by-election? After they finished third in the by-election how the Premier stood in front of the cameras and said, well Weyburn-Big Muddy has certainly sent us a signal and yes we are not maybe . . . we’ve lost touch with the electorate and maybe the people aren’t as happy with the job that we have been doing as what we think they should be.
And then, not more than five months later, you hear members from that side of the House come into this Chamber and reply to the Speech from the Throne with this self-righteous, the only people that know how to govern in Canada would be the NDP government, Madam Deputy Speaker. And it’s unbelievable. They go on and they preach about how if we don’t learn from the past we’re doomed to repeat it.
But, Madam Deputy Speaker, first of all you’ve got to get the past correct. Some of the statements that have been made over the last six or seven days are absolutely misleading and if you’re going to learn from the . . . For example I remember the member from Saskatoon Nutana talking about the last, I would say, 25 years in this province. And if she is learning from that history that she recited, we’re going to be in big trouble with this government and we are in big trouble. Because her recitation of what the history was in this province is completely different than what I remember and I believe what most people in the province remember, Madam Deputy Speaker.
The member from Saskatoon Nutana talked about the auditor’s report. I found it really quite interesting. She did not talk about the auditor’s report in 2006. She chose to talk about the auditor’s report in 1982 when the Devine government came to power and she supposedly cited from the auditor’s report what the debt was from Allan Blakeney moving on to the Devine government. And she said it was something around the three . . . 2 to $3 billion mark. That may have been true but then when it’s recited back that the auditor is saying that seven out of the last 16 years this government has run a deficit budget, she fails to point that out. She fails to acknowledge it. She takes the auditor if it serves her purpose but she ignores the auditor when it goes against what she is trying to espouse.
Madam Deputy Speaker, certainly when the Devine government took over, there was debt from the Blakeney government. We can debate back and forth what that was. But what I do know, that through the 1980s there was a 22 per cent . . . Well the minister from . . . the former Finance minister is saying there’s no debate. Well I think there is an awful lot of debate. There’s an awful lot of debate if you want to take into the debt that was hidden into the Crowns and if you want to take into the unfunded pension liability.
But, you know, once again they’ll take the number that they think that serves their political interest. And that’s all it does is it serves their political interest because it doesn’t do anything for re-acting history accurately. It serves their political interest and that’s all they’re worried about, Madam Deputy Speaker.
You know, it’s interesting because through those years it was 22 per cent. You could take $3 billion and you can go at 22 per cent interest, which is exactly what the Devine government inherited was 22 per cent interest. So what does that 3 billion do? If it’s 3 billion what does the 3 billion do in four years? It’s going to double. Blakeney’s debt will double in four to five years on 22 per cent interest, Madam Deputy Speaker.
The Deputy Speaker: — Order. I would ask all members to allow the member from Indian Head-Milestone to continue. Order. I ask, I ask the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs to please come to order and allow the member from Indian Head-Milestone on his feet to continue with his debate.
Mr. McMorris: — Absolute incompetence of this government. The absolute corrupt government that this government can be, Madam Deputy Speaker. And you bet it’s corrupt. We’ve got a minister, we’ve got a minister from Prince Albert Northcote that will stand in this House and talk about a ministerial aide and what he did in 1980 but fail to mention what he did in 1990 and ’95, Madam Deputy Speaker.
The minister from P.A. [Prince Albert] Northcote can stand in here and talk about what happened in the ’80s but fail to mention the $40 million he lost and deceived the public for six years, wouldn’t tell the public the truth.
The minister, the member from Regina Victoria was hollering from his seat about a corrupt government but he can’t seem to look in the mirror. If he looked at the member beside and saw what that member did to the public by misleading them for six years, Madam Deputy Speaker, in fact that member had to stand in this House and apologize to the public of Saskatchewan. And I don’t remember too many other members from this side of the House having to apologize for a $40 million loss that was deceived from the public for many, many years, Madam Deputy Speaker.
And that’s absolutely appalling because the history that they recite is a history that only simply serves their political purpose. It does nothing for the political debate of this province. It supplies the interests of that party, Madam Deputy Speaker.
And, you know, it’s funny because they’ll stand in this House and they’ll holler about the ’80s, but they hate to look in the mirror because what this government is going through right now is some disastrous times, is some disastrous times.
We can look at . . . It doesn’t matter which file you want to look at. Whether you want to look at health care and the baby Paige case or the Crystal Bonderud case or the number and number of cases that we’ve brought forward and the absolute shambles that this government has made of our health care system.
And it is nothing more than that. They’ve made an absolute shambles of our health care system when you have people coming to have to plead their case on the steps of the legislature because they can’t get service in the emergency room of the Regina General Hospital. That is appalling, Madam Deputy Speaker.
Madam Deputy Speaker, when you look at the . . I have to get back to my notes here. When you look at some of the things that have been said over the last six or seven days and some of the resuscitation of history that is so politically slanted, you know, whether it’s a corrupt and dishonest government . . . which they like to talk about in the ’80s; they love to talk about the Devine government in the ’80s.
You know what makes these guys, you know what makes the NDP more frustrated than anything else, is that they promised more than the Devine government did in the ’80s and still couldn’t get elected.
You know, it’s really quite interesting. You know, they think that the Devine government was the only government that promised and that went into debt. Well that government over there, that party over there promised more than any Devine government ever did and still couldn’t get elected.
And, you know, it’s interesting how they’ll shy away from their cousins, their cousins from Ontario. They’ll talk about the Devine government in the ’80s and the fiscal house that they left the NDP government in 1990. But you know it’s amazing how they’ll ignore what happened under Bob Rae in Ontario. What happened under Bob Rae in Ontario was exactly what happened under Grant Devine here which is exactly what happened under Manitoba which is exactly what happened in every other province in Canada.
But you know they’ll fail to acknowledge that. They’ll fail to acknowledge the fact that Bob Rae was the premier of Ontario when they went into a huge debt, Madam Deputy Speaker, because all they seem to want to do is relive the ’80s, relive the ’80s and do a revisionist history of what the ’80s were, Madam Deputy Speaker. Because it does nothing for the debate of this province, but it does everything to try and pump up their sagging political polls. And, you know, you can tell that they’re sagging, and you can tell that there’s dissention on that side of the House.
I find it absolutely amazing that under a government, under this government, you can have a Minister of Community Resources stand in the House every day and deal with what he’s dealing under Oyate, but you can have a former minister of Corrections and Public Safety say one bad thing about the Premier and he’s out of cabinet. And we know there’s a couple others on that side that don’t have the confidence in the Premier.
And I can guarantee you that if it wasn’t for a leadership convention in November, we wouldn’t have seen a 2 per cent drop in the PST last week. The only reason we saw a 2 per cent drop in the PST last week is because this government and that Premier are having huge difficulties internally, huge difficulties internally. In other words, I really wish, you know, if I was to buy a truck a couple of months ago, that your convention could’ve been a couple of months ago so that you would’ve dropped the PST then, Madam Deputy Speaker.
Well unfortunately 20 minutes passes and passes very, very quickly, and I’m glad I was able to stand and comment on some of the debate that has been put forward by this NDP government, Madam Deputy Speaker. And I know that we’re getting closer and closer and closer to an election because I can tell the desperation in each one of their voices. They are desperate. They are tired. They are old. And after the next election, they’ll be opposition. Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.
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