Protesters from around the province converged on Swift Current on September 26 to throw a party in celebration of Brad Wall’s announced intention to step down as Premier in the new year.
A group of 25 protestors rallied in front of Wall’s Swift Current Constituency office during the noon hour on Tuesday, voicing their concerns over the cuts in the spring provincial budget, and their actions regarding Saskatchewan’s Crown Corporations.
Larry Hubich, President of the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour, is disappointed by the cuts but also the lack of discussion with labour leaders about the government actions.
“Actually for me it’s kind of personal,” Hubich admitted during the rally. “For the past 10 years the Premier has promised me numerous times to hold a meeting, to sit down and have a conversation with the leaders of the labour movement, to talk about issues that are important to us. And he’s never, ever fulfilled that promise.”
“I’m here now. Maybe he’ll show up at his own retirement celebration and we can have that meeting that he’s never, ever been able to find time for over the last decade.”
Hubich had hoped Wall would attend the party to discuss the state of the province.
“I’d invite him to have some cake, and maybe a little bit of A&W Root Beer, and I’d ask him if he thinks it really is necessary that workers and Saskatchewan citizens pay for the terrible mismanagement around a couple of initiatives – not the least of which is the Global Transportation Hub and the $2 billion road around the City of Regina. It seems to me that this government has squandered a decade of prosperity and good times, and are going to leave us with a huge debt.”
“Kind of reminiscent of his predecessor – Grant Devine left the province in a huge hole that we had to climb out of – and so that’s distressing for me as a long time Saskatchewan citizen. And I think that the people in the province deserves some answers from our premier as to why he left the province in such a mess.”
Also speaking at Tuesday’s retirement rally was Tracy Marchant, one of the organizers and coordinators with SaskCrowns.
She noted there were a series of surprises in the last provincial budget, and concerning actions surrounding Saskatchewan’s Crown Corporations.
“Shutting down STC without consulting with the people that use it and that rely upon it, I think was really short sighted. And it’s too bad, because he’s going to go out potentially known as the Premier that took away our buses,” Marchant said.
She argued against the notion the STC was losing too much money to remain viable, as it was truly providing an important service across the province.
“I view it as it was a public service. It was something that was provided for the people of Saskatchewan. In the same way that our government provides roads. There’s lots of roads I never drive on, but I know that my tax dollars are used to paving and maintain – and I’m fine with that.”
“So what are we going to do if it’s this thing that it has to make money. Are we going to put a toll on every road in the province? I just think it was shortsighted. They really should have consulted with people. My feeling would be they’re caught off guard with the emotion that’s come out around the shut down of the STC.”
She remains hopeful that Wall reverses the decision, and comes up with a different plan for providing that public transportation service to rural and remote areas of the province.
SaskCrowns is circulating a petition to force a plebiscite to force a vote on the question of whether the provincial government need stop utilizing a public consultation process before privatizing a Crown.
“The chatter about selling part or all of those Crowns, especially SaskTel and SGI. I just can’t see where that makes any sense either,” Marchant said.
She made the analogy that a farmer, when facing a couple of tough years, starts selling land when times are tough.
“You figure out how to muscle through it, and you come out on the other side with a business plan.”
“This just is so reactionary and so against what they said they were going to do, that it certainly has motivated me to get involved with this group, SaskCrowns,” she said. “The people of Saskatchewan love their Crowns, and we want to save them. We don’t want them sold out.”