POLITICS MAKES STRANGE BEDFELLOWS
The above saying is adapted from a line in Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”. It is typically applied to describe alliances formed between those with differing political viewpoints who have united in a common cause. While we do not see ourselves as a news provider or a vehicle for social or political commentary, we still recognize that our publications can serve to communicate information if the authors wish to pay for the opportunity. With the provincial election pending, we want to add our voices to those of others who are calling for disclosure and accountability from our elected officials. We believe that better leadership is needed from government during these critical times.
At Compass we are compelled to comment on the many issues that have come to light over the last 2 years as we published numerous articles for Nestor Mryglod and the “Highway Robbery” organization. They needed an outlet to communicate their concerns and experiences with our elected and appointed officials as they attempted to convey their concerns about the New Regina Bypass, the GTH and the many problems that had been created for them and others due to unforeseen last minute changes to the planned route of the new bypass.
Over time it became apparent that the facts revealed through their research demanded attention , and needed to be addressed by those who were responsible for managing this project. Even after multiple articles and letters to both the present administration and the official opposition, no answers or responses from either were forthcoming.
Mr. Mryglod then chose the only remaining option available to get the attention of both the governing authorities and the general public. He is now running for office himself in an attempt to place these matters before the public.
We note that one week after he mailed a campaign flyer which called for disclosure of the details surrounding the largest financial expenditure in the provinces’ history, the official opposition decided to challenge the Sask Party on exactly the same issues that had been brought before the NDP by Mr. Mryglod on a weekly basis for the last several years. No mention of Mryglod or his organization was made as they claimed the mantle of their right to question the Sask Party on these matters.
We find that to be disingenuous on the part of the official opposition. Only on the eve of an election have they chosen to add this subject to their war chest of political ammunition. It is far more than coincidental that they have quoted the exact questions that Mryglod has been demanding they ask without acknowledgement as to their origin.
As independent observers and victims ourselves of confusing and contradictory programs for assistance to business during the pandemic , we at Compass feel it’s time we asked some questions of our own.
Many small businesses have been given financial assistance while many others have been denied. The criteria for qualifying under these programs is both confusing and in some cases appears discriminatory. We have watched as the Saskatchewan small business relief program was accessed by some but denied to others in similar businesses.
We have learned that attempts to gain clarification for the interpretation of these rules has been difficult if not impossible. We have even been told by department officials at the SSBEP (Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment) program that they could not tell us why our business did not qualify for assistance. This in the midst of a response to the first wave of the pandemic that forced our customers to close down along with our distribution and production suppliers services. Not only did our clients suspend their advertising activities, our suppliers and delivery personnel were unable to provide the services that we needed to do business.
This was particularly frustrating when we watched as some businesses to whom we provide services were able to qualify for this assistance while also being forced to close during the first wave of the pandemic. Our neighbors and colleagues who operated a printing business similar to ours were given this support while we were denied it.
We tried repeatedly to get an explanation for why our particular business did not qualify only to be told that they couldn’t give us a reason because they apparently didn’t know. They referred us to the Deputy Minister of Finance.
We contacted this office but are still awaiting an answer.
From a higher altitude view, a number of things are apparent when we look at the history of decision making that has placed an unfair burden of expense on everyone in this province. It is noteworthy that since 2017, our provincial government has collected over $2 Billion dollars in new taxes which have yet to be rolled back. Personal exemption levels were to be indexed to the COLA (cost of living allowance) metric but for the last few years have never changed to reflect that policy. It has been pointed out to us that our utilities expenses now include a delivery charge that has not been fully publicized. That delivery charge exists regardless of usage of the commodity. The cost of energy has risen approximately 57% in the last 10 years while nobody we are aware of has experienced a similar increase in basic income.
We have seen increased provincial taxes added to construction which has hampered both the building and service sectors of our economy and forced many businesses in the supply chain to close their doors. We have watched our province award multiple P3 projects to out of province contractors while at the same time placing financial burdens on those businesses who provide local employment in this sector. We have watched as STC has been shut down while companies like Lifelabs, a big Saskatchewan Party Donor, have been awarded a $60- Million Dollar contract. The list goes on.
When we combine these facts with the issues that have been pointed out by Mryglod and his team, a serious pattern of mismanagement and partisan subsidy emerges. We can readily identify with the sentiment that change is needed. Unfortunately we cannot see that either alternative being offered today represents clear and fundamental change. The behavior of our current political parties bears many similarities. We are in a crisis of leadership in Saskatchewan.
We are hoping that clear unambiguous and courageous leadership will somehow emerge in the midst of these multiple challenges. The only option open to any of us is to demand that leadership and to continue to hold our elected officials accountable to us all. We must ensure that transparency and integrity are qualities that should be expected rather than repeatedly demanded.
The only way this will happen is if we all take an interest, educate ourselves with the facts, and show our sentiments to our governing authorities at the polls.
It is ultimately our decision who runs the country and how. We have the franchise to enact change. Exercise your rights and use your voice. Demand real change and vote for the one who you believe can provide it.
It has never been more important.