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August

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    Evergreen Taoist Monks from Vancouver preside at ceremonies in Regina to open 23rd annual Dragon Boat Festival.
    Aug 29, 2014 11:26 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Dragons await awakening in Regina today to launch the 23rd annual Dragon Boat Festival this weekend on Wascana Lake.
    Aug 29, 2014 11:07 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    John McCallum and I finished our day of consultations in Regina today at the Immigrant Women's Centre - great people!
    Aug 28, 2014 4:25 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    John McCallum and I are privileged to meet some great people working on immigration issues at Regina Open Door Society (RODS).
    Aug 28, 2014 2:37 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    John McCallum and I had useful discussions today with Saskatchewan business leaders about Temporary Foreign Workers debacle in a province with 3.4 percent unemployment.
    Aug 28, 2014 12:54 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Glad to have my friend and colleague John McCallum in Regina today - talking about Temporary Foreign Workers and Immigration.
    Aug 28, 2014 9:45 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    There is jubilation in Rider Nation this morning as the news is confirmed that Weston Dressler is back with the Saskatchewan Roughriders - at least for one season. We're sorry the NFL gig didn't work out, but delighted that he's now back with the Riders! Green is the colour!
    Aug 28, 2014 9:35 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Glad to accept Joel Kreutzwieser's ALS Ice Bucket Challenge today - in memory of my friend Rick Wackid. My challenge goes to Gainer-the-Gopher. Donate! http://youtu.be/WIyYH0QdD8k
    Aug 27, 2014 8:38 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Glad to see Premier Wall is united with all Premiers to bring closure to grieving families and learn facts aboutt prevention. http://www.thestarphoenix.com/Saskatchewan+premier+Wall+backs+public+inquiry+missing+murdered+aboriginal+women/10147650/story.html
    Aug 25, 2014 3:20 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    The flag of Ukraine raised in front of Regina's City Hall to mark the anniversary of Ukraine's Independence in 1991.
    Aug 25, 2014 12:11 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    A HARD LOOK AT MR. HARPER'S ECONOMIC RECORD When the next federal election rolls around, likely next spring, Stephen Harper says he wants to campaign on his economic record. Well bring it on. That record is highlighted by some spectacular failures. Military procurement is one of them -- specifically the proposed acquisition of F-35 stealth fighter jets to replace Canada's aging CF-18s. The botched process started in 2006 and is still nowhere near completion. The plane isn't even operational and costs have ballooned from $9-billion to close to $50-billion. The Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Auditor General have depicted the management of this file as both incompetent and deceitful. The Temporary Foreign Workers Program is another big Harper government screw-up. That program operated with decent success for more than 30 years until the Conservatives messed it up with glaring instances of sloppy administration, lax enforcement, depressed wages, displaced Canadian workers and mistreated foreigners. The government's proposed corrections have infuriated both employers and employees, both domestic and foreign. Another example of the Harper regime failing to get big economic things right is pipelines. A fundamental role of the Government of Canada is to open up markets abroad for Canadian resources and help create responsible and sustainable ways to get those resources to those markets. In the case of western Canadian energy products, we're suffering multi-billion dollar price penalties every year because Mr. Harper has failed to move the yardsticks a single inch forward on any major pipeline project since he first took power nearly nine years ago. He also failed on western grain handling and transportation. The grain system Mr. Harper imposed didn't have enough capacity, nor any surge capability, nor any provision for adverse circumstances (like bad weather). There was no coordination, no transparency, no accountability, no competition, and no realistic legal recourse for captive shippers. Millions of tonnes of grain got stranded. Frustrated global customers just walked away. Mr. Harper's system cost farmers something over $5-billion last year. On trade policy more generally, the Conservatives boast about the number of trade deals they're working on. But only six are fully concluded and implemented, and together they represent just 2% of global GDP. The bigger ones are the better part of a decade away from fruition. And there remains a big difference between just signing deals and actually increasing the trade that gets done. For most of Mr. Harper's term, Canada has suffered large trade deficits, a situation the Bank of Canada has described as a "serial disappointment". On fiscal management, in 2006 Mr. Harper inherited a decade of balanced budgets with annual surpluses of some $13-billion and financial flexibility over the ensuing five years projected at close to $100-billion. But in less than three years, he blew this country's fiscal security. He overspent by three times the rate of inflation and eliminated all the contingency reserves and prudence factors that had protected Canada against unforeseen trouble. Thus, Mr. Harper put us back into the red again BEFORE, not because of, the recession that arrived in late 2008. That reckless mismanagement caused the burden of the recession to be much greater than it needed to be. More that $160-billion in new federal debt -- Harper debt -- was created. That's close to $20,000 in new Harper debt for every Canadian family. At the bottom line, close to 240,000 more Canadians are out of a job and looking for work today than before the recession. Five years on, Canada's economy remains weak and uncertain. Stephen Harper has produced the poorest economic growth results of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett in the 1930's. Yes, bring it on. It would be a pleasure to campaign on Mr. Harper's economic record.
    Aug 25, 2014 5:46 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    This was an amazing Saturday in Regina's Wascana Park! The Canadian National Canoe and Kayak Championships were held on Wascana Lake. There was a ColourVibe run to raise funds for the Regina Humane Society. The "Summer Invasion" of rock bands and extreme sports filled the grounds in front of the Legislature, wrapping up with Hedley performing. Just outside the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, Iron Will Family Day attracted a big crowd of families, having fun, supporting the Children's Hospital Foundation and remembering little Wm Rattray. And the annual Mustard Festival was just around the corner. Not to mention all the individual activities going on all over the Park. All goes to validate the good reasons we had 10 years ago to refurbish Wascana Lake with the BIG DIG. A major infrastructure project. It has paid multiple dividends to this community and will continue to do so for years to come.
    Aug 23, 2014 9:40 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    The historic plaque unveiled this morning at St Basil's Parish Centre in Regina commemorating WW1 internment of Ukrainians.
    Aug 22, 2014 10:15 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    SOLEMN COMMEMORATIONS FOR UKRAINIAN-CANADIANS The next few days will be filled with extra emotion for the nearly 1.25-million Canadians who trace their family heritage to Ukraine -- including about 13% of Saskatchewan's population. At 11:00 o'clock local time this morning, August 22nd, at more than a hundred locations across Canada (including St. Basil's Ukrainian Catholic Church in Regina) historical plaques will be unveiled marking a very sad dimension of Canada's participation in World War One -- that is the arbitrary internment in Canada of thousands of Ukrainian and other eastern European immigrants out of ill-founded fear about their loyalties during that global conflict. Authorized by an Act of Parliament, the internment was a deeply regrettable abrogation of human rights and civil liberties. Without specific cause, due process or natural justice, people of certain ethnicities were forced into 24 heavy labour camps for the duration of the War, and even two years longer. Once branded "enemy aliens", their lives, livelihoods and reputations were severely compromised. Now a hundred years later, the installing of these plaques is an effort to acknowledge, commemorate and educate Canadians about what actually took place in those dark days of fear, suspicion and xenophobia between 1914 and 1918. We like to think such things just don't happen in Canada, but they did -- long before the Charter of Canadian Rights and Freedoms would render them unconstitutional after 1982. And this internment wasn't a solitary incident. Ukrainians and other minorities faced another period of irrational victimization in the 1920's and 30's when, in the name of patriotism, the Ku Klux Klan got a foothold on the Prairies and actually helped to elect a short-lived government in Saskatchewan. Then there were more internments in World War Two. And let's never forget the devastating legacy of Indian Residential Schools. As Mary Haskett reminded us so powerfully, it is vital that such sorry chapters in our history are not glossed over, but remain properly documented and remembered down through the years, so their painful but valuable lessons can be learned and future mistakes avoided. I am pleased that Sir Wilfrid Laurier, in Opposition during WWI, broke from the wartime "union" government over this issue back in 1917. Fast-forward nearly 90 years, I am also pleased that Prime Minister Paul Martin entered into an Agreement-in-Principle with several Ukrainian-Canadian organizations in 2005 which launched an "acknowledgement, commemoration and education" process to help get Canada to the point we're at today. That national agreement was actually signed right here in Regina in the UNF hall. And the initial funding was in my 2005 budget. It was former House of Commons Speaker, Peter Milliken, in 1991 who was the first MP to call for the righting of this historic wrong. And it was former Dauphin MP Inky Mark who presented a Private Member's Bill to move it forward. But most of all, it was the dedication, persistence and hard work of the Ukrainian Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the Ukrainian Canadian Congress, the Shevchenko Foundation and other groups and individuals who carried the flame unfailingly to the unveilings taking place today. Thank you and congratulations to all. Adding to the emotions on this weekend -- beyond the internment plaques -- will be a host of activities marking the events of 1991 that brought on Ukraine's Independence. And we are all painfully aware of the tortured course of events since, from the euphoria of the Orange Revolution in 2004 to the despair, violence and loss of life brought on by the unconscionable aggression of Vladimir Putin. Even as we try to learn from historic errors made in Canada a hundred years ago, we need to be unshakeable in standing with and for the freedom-loving people of Ukraine today. While supporting the country 's security requirements, Canada also needs to invest in the institutions and traditions of democratic development and an effective market economy in Ukraine because that is the fertile soil in which enduring freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law can take root and flourish.
    Aug 22, 2014 5:56 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Following National Summer Caucus meeting yesterday in Edmonton, now having a busy, productive day in Regina with Honourable Stephane Dion.
    Aug 21, 2014 12:07 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Justin Trudeau speaks to hundreds of people in an Edmonton Park as part National Liberal Caucus mtg.
    Aug 19, 2014 10:18 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Crowd gathering in an Edmonton Park to welcome @JustinTrudeau and National Liberal Caucus for annual summer mtgs.
    Aug 19, 2014 10:15 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    WAS MICHAEL SONA A SOLITARY ROGUE ACTING ALL ALONE? The big political news this past week was the long awaited verdict in the infamous "robocall" trial of Conservative staffer, Michael Sona. He was convicted of committing "election fraud" in the Guelph constituency in 2011, and is now awaiting his sentence. Sona was accused and found guilty of participating in an elaborate scheme to prevent voters in that year's federal election from casting ballots against the Harper government. This perversion of democracy took place when some 7,000 eligible voters received automated "robocalls" on election day telling them, falsely, that their poll locations had been changed at the last minute. Those phone messages were lies, and the only thing the 7,000 voters had in common was their intention NOT to vote Conservative. The attempt to suppress their votes -- i.e., election fraud -- was obvious. That Michael Sona was convicted was no great surprise. What is surprising -- and troubling -- is the clear and common view among the trial Judge, the prosecutor and the defence counsel that Sona was not likely a solitary miscreant off on a romp of his own, but must have had some help. This contradicts the Conservative line that Sona acted alone. Even though he was one of their most faithful soldiers, his Party quickly threw him "under the bus" to take all the blame all by himself. But is that credible? The Defence, the Crown and the Judge all think not. Furthermore, in a separate court case last year, a Judge of the Federal Court hearing other robocall evidence made the explicit finding that election fraud did, in fact, occur in a number of places in the 2011 campaign, and the most likely source of the information used to identify susceptible voters was the Conservative Party's massive and highly secretive database. So who could get access to that database? And how? What was the system for skimming off the names to be misled? Who devised the technology? Was the system hacked? Has any such hacking been reported to police and investigated? Why did one of Sona's Conservative colleagues have to get an immunity agreement from the Crown before he testified -- immunity from what? Why did another key player in the Conservative campaign refuse even to be interviewed by Elections Canada, and then suddenly moved to Kuwait? Troubling questions call for answers, but they won't be forthcoming from the Party brass who maintain that Sona was just a devious one-man show run amock. So the burden of getting to the bottom of this affair and protecting the integrity of our democracy falls to Elections Canada. But wait, the Harper Conservatives have just changed the Elections Act. The power to investigate election fraud is no longer vested in Elections Canada (an agency that reports to Parliament). Instead, it now comes under the wing of the Department of Justice (an integral part of the government). Those who carry the investigative responsibility have a steep hill to climb to demonstrate their independence and their unfettered determination to protect the public interest. And furthermore, the investigators still don't have the power, requested by Elections Canada but withheld by the government, to compel reluctant witnesses to disclose what they know about bad behaviour. That power could make a difference in dealing with someone seeking an immunity deal or considering a quick trip to Kuwait. #####
    Aug 18, 2014 12:58 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Regina Symphony about to start their 18th summertime performance - from the Roughrider Theme to 1812 Overture
    Aug 17, 2014 4:01 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Crowd filling meadow in Wascana Park by Royal Sask Museum, expecting great show again this year from Regina's Symphony Orchestra. (3/3)
    Aug 17, 2014 3:39 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    RSO Maestro Victor Sawa, relaxing on stage, as he prepares for this year's "Symphony in the Park" (2/3)
    Aug 17, 2014 3:32 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    For the 18th year, the Regina Symphony Orchestra is performing outdoors today in Wascana Park (1/3)
    Aug 17, 2014 3:30 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MC Kavita Ram opens India-Canada Day in the Park in Regina, marking 67th anniversary of India Independence Day
    Aug 16, 2014 5:58 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Here's more evidence that more and more Canadians have had enough of Mr Harper's abusive and misleading tactics http://ottawacitizen.com/news/national/doctors-pull-out-of-conservative-governments-anti-pot-ads
    Aug 16, 2014 1:38 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    I look forward to celebrating India's Independence Day today with the highly respected India-Canada Association in Regina http://www.liberal.ca/newsroom/news-release/statement-liberal-party-canada-leader-justin-trudeau-indias-independence-day-2/
    Aug 16, 2014 6:00 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Here's some good practical advice
    Aug 15, 2014 6:22 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Very solid discussion about water/flood/drought issues today with Justin Trudeau in Saskatoon engaging the University of Saskatchewan, APAS and the former PFRA. These water talks are start of a much bigger dialogue about what we all need to do together to minimize risks and maximize benefits.
    Aug 14, 2014 4:19 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    HOW TO MAKE WATER A CONSISTENT PRAIRIE ASSET? Thunder storms pounded the Regina area this past weekend with more wind and heavy rain. Property damage was significant in places like White City as severe prairie weather patterns continue. In late June, extraordinary rainfall flooded southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba. Farmland was inundated. Much of the oil patch was rendered inaccessible. Roads, bridges and other public infrastructure were damaged. Many homes and businesses were severely impaired. The losses will tally hundreds of millions of dollars. All this follows the most costly inundation in Canadian history just last year in southern Alberta and previous large floods across the eastern prairies in 2011. Prior to that, 2009 was a drought year in Alberta and Saskatchewan, while Manitoba had floods. The period from 2000 to 2004 was reported to be the driest across the West in 800 years. When you're talking about water, nothing is more vital to prairie life and livelihoods. It's extremely variable, from far too much of it to far too little, and getting more so with the compounding impacts of climate change. It's highly controversial and expensive. And it affects everyone, including every type and level of government. When you're in the midst of those debilitating drought years, it's frustrating to think of years like this one when too much water surged across the countryside without much apparent planning, control, forecasting or even last minute warnings. And that frustration works in the opposite direction too. So what can be done to improve our knowledge of these water cycles from flood to drought and back again? Are they becoming more extreme and frequent as part of climate change? What should be done to better predict significant weather patterns and provide the public with timely warnings of what's coming? Are we using the best weather radar technology? Is the network comprehensive? Are we up-to-date or behind the curve on forecasting floods? Is the most effective public infrastructure in place to withstand increasingly violent weather patterns? What about on-farm drainage issues? Are the rules sufficient and clear? Are landowners following those rules? Does enforcement need to be strengthened? Should some land use incentives be developed? Where do natural wetlands fit into our prairie-wide eco-system? What role do they play in flood mitigation? Are they being debilitated? Should all governments be working better together, and in cooperation with the private sector, on a comprehensive water strategy for the prairies - to better understand, conserve, manage and develop our precious water resources? Can we channel and save flood waters more constructively? What new water infrastructure would that take? Why has the uptake on the original vision for Gardiner Dam and Lake Diefenbaker been so limited? Is there more genuine potential for irrigation and water-based economic development? What about water quality and community water security - especially for rural, remote and Aboriginal communities? Why did the Government of Canada eliminate the "Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration" which had, over 75 years, earned a sterling reputation as one of the world's pre-eminent authorities in water management, conservation, development and flood control? What would a modern PFRA look like to help fit the needs of the 21st century? How best can all governments collaborate? These are just a few of many vital questions about water risks and benefits, and related public policy considerations. To begin a constructive dialogue about these issues, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau will be in Saskatoon later this week to meet with water experts from the University of Saskatchewan, as well as farm leaders and some of those who previously led PFRA. The Government of Canada has a useful role to play. Justin wants to ensure we get it right.
    Aug 11, 2014 7:34 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    The Harpoonist and the Axe Murderer open final night of Regina Folk Festival #RFF14 in Victoria Park.
    Aug 10, 2014 6:01 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Main stage crowd now filling up Regina Folk Festival #RFF14 grounds, bit soggy, but no more rain in forecast
    Aug 09, 2014 4:43 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Deluge last night washed out SamRoberts, but big crowd back at Regina Folk Festival #RFF14 today - Senera Ryder tonight
    Aug 09, 2014 4:43 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Line-up for 45th Regina FolkFestival #RFF14, headlined by SamRoberts, SerenaRyder + Los Lobos
    Aug 08, 2014 6:21 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Big crowd as usual gathering in Victoria Park for the first night of Regina's Folk Festival - Sam Roberts headlining at 10:45 #RFF14
    Aug 08, 2014 5:05 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    HARPER’S ECONOMIC POLICIES CONTINUE TO PRODUCE DISMAL RESULTS In July, a net gain of just 200 jobs – that’s right, two hundred – in this whole country. And all of them part-time. Thank you Stephen Harper! These latest employment statistics, released today, continue the Harper government’s record of dismal mediocrity. While Canada’s overall working-age population continued to grow, the number of people actively looking for work (i.e., the “participation rate”) dropped by 0.2%, meaning another 35,400 Canadians just gave up looking for work. Equally bad, the national economy continues to lose full-time jobs – by close to 60,000 in July. While these were replaced by part-time employment, job quality and job security clearly continue to dwindle. Senior private sector economists are describing July’s jobs report as “shocking”. In particular, they point to the weakening labour force participation rate and the growing discouragement among the unemployed. Confidence and hope are low. But not even counting those who have dropped out, there are more than 1.3 million jobless Canadians today. That’s 220,000 more than before the 2008 recession. Some recovery. This is what you get with Mr. Harper who seems content to have the worst record on economic growth of any Prime Minister since R.B. Bennett.
    Aug 08, 2014 9:21 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PFRA? In the aftermath of severe flooding across a big portion of southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba this summer, a number of prairie people have asked why their best longstanding water expert -- the PFRA -- is absent from the scene. Why isn't this highly valued federal agency helping with the recovery? The short answer is this: PFRA no longer exists. Stephen Harper killed it! Gone to ruin is the historic "Tree Farm" at Indian Head. Gone (or going) are the community pastures. Gone are the water engineers and the best hydrology brains in North America. Gone are the soil conservation experts. Gone are the community development officers. All trashed in Mr. Harper's frenzied budget cutting. Ironically, the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration was created by the Conservative government of R.B. Bennett in 1935 as an emergency response to the Dirty Thirties. Later that same year, when Saskatchewan's Jimmy Gardiner began his tenure as the longest-serving federal Agriculture Minister in Canadian history, he embraced PFRA as the leading instrument of rural development in western Canada and built it into the most respected federal institution on the Prairies. For three-quarters of a century, PFRA was an integral part of prairie life, providing much of the brainpower and financing to rebuild the region after the dust-bowl era, and then properly manage and care for its precious soil and water resources over the long-term. But none of that mattered to Mr. Harper. Over the past five years, he slashed PFRA into oblivion -- all to help him claim he can balance his budget in 2015, just in time for an election. Let's be very clear. Balancing the federal books is important, but there is no fiscal or economic magic in imposing some artificial deadline in the spring of 2015. Every serious financial expert in this country agrees. That deadline is entirely political, not economic. The timing is contrived exclusively to suit Mr. Harper's partisan convenience. So it was not necessary to kill PFRA. Indeed, it was foolishly short-sighted, because this was an extremely effective agency dedicated to the growth, sustainability and prosperity of rural Canada. Without that kind of smart growth, both rural and urban, average middle class Canadians will not be able to attain the better quality of life they seek, nor will governments be able to balance their books on any sound or durable basis. Sustained and sustainable growth is the prime requirement. This is a government that believes nothing of real or growing value ever comes from public investment. The evidence of their destructive ideology extends far beyond PFRA. Veterans and returning soldiers are short-changed on their benefits and services. Pensions for the most vulnerable seniors are being reduced. Youth employment efforts in the federal public service have dropped by one-third. Investments in community infrastructure through the "Building Canada" fund have been chopped by 87%. Environmental protection and food safety have been undermined. Military procurements have been botched and delayed. The casualty list goes on: Maritime search and rescue, prison security, forensic labs, immigration offices, trade services, emergency planning and preparedness, National Parks and Historic Sites, the census, social benefit appeals, weather forecasting, aboriginal education ... and much more. Yes, governments must be constantly alert and pro-active on ways to ensure all programs and services are relevant, necessary and cost-effective. Tough decisions are always necessary to select priorities. But there is a vital difference between intelligent, prudent, fiscally responsible management and the vain scorched-earth mentality of the Harper regime. And here's another important question: Why has something of proven value like PFRA been obliterated while Mr. Harper spends increasing millions on government advertising, a bloated Cabinet and his own personal bodyguards?
    Aug 08, 2014 6:04 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Here's more evidence that Canadians are getting weary of HarperCon smears http://www.montrealgazette.com/Editorial+Tories+haven+grasped+cost+wedge+politics/10098014/story.html
    Aug 07, 2014 1:31 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    A new low for the Conservatives. Please share to fight back against their attacks on Justin Trudeau.
    Aug 07, 2014 1:09 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Trade deals aside, here's the record for the last 20 years. Liberals always in surplus, Conservatives mostly in deficit
    Aug 06, 2014 1:49 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Provinces need a reliable infrastructure partner federally. But Stephen Harper has chopped his Building Canada Fund by 87% . Fewer than half a dozen new projects across the whole country have been announced so far in 2014 under the New Building Canada Fund. The summer construction season has been lost. The provinces are having great difficulty concluding overall agreements with Harper government to govern these projects. Access to the fund is slow, complicated. New rules limit ways municipalities can use available dollars. No firm amount of the Building Canada Fund is earmarked for municipalities. They are forced to compete against other government entities, like universities. The federal stall on infrastructure is strange since the federal Finance department says such investment are the most cost-effective way to drive jobs and growth + Statistics Canada says our best productivity growth comes when our infrastructure investments are highest + Former Bank of Canada Governor David Dodge says failing to invest now in infrastructure is foolish fiscal policy since interest rates are rock bottom. http://www.cp24.com/news/premier-wynne-pushes-feds-for-more-infrastructure-money-1.1948111
    Aug 06, 2014 7:41 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Check this blog on iPolitics about new grain transportation regulations. Will they make a difference? http://www.ipolitics.ca/2014/08/05/grain-regs-confirm-chronic-policy-failures/
    Aug 05, 2014 3:21 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Under a blazing sun, St Teresa Middle School choir singing Tipperary at WW1 commemoration in Regina
    Aug 04, 2014 2:18 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    This massive poppy, painted by Regina's Belinda Kriek, is particularly impressive today on the 100th anniversary of WW1.
    Aug 04, 2014 12:03 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Big crowd arriving for last day of #QCX2014 today, served 3,000 at pancake breakfast this morning in support of Regina Food Bank
    Aug 03, 2014 11:55 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Mayor Fougere+ Regina City Councillors, with 2 special helpers, getting ready to serve #QCX2014 pancake Breakfast
    Aug 03, 2014 8:30 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Part of a massive War Cemetery near Ypres, Belgium - remembering fallen Canadians, WW1 started 100yrs ago this weekend
    Aug 03, 2014 7:27 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    GRAIN REGULATIONS CONFIRM CHRONIC POLICY FAILURES It was back in 2007, nearly eight years ago, when the Harper government was first confronted with complaints about grain handling and transportation deficiencies. Since then, the situation has only grown worse, culminating in last winter's full-blown, multi-billion-dollar, system-wide failure. The root of the problem is this - Mr. Harper devised and imposed a grain handling and transportation system without adequate capacity, no surge capability, no provision for adverse circumstances, no overall coordination, no transparency, no accountability, no competition and no realistic recourse for shippers (like farmers) who are held captive. It was a system run by the railways and grain companies to serve their commercial interests. And it worked ... FOR THEM. They've just reported record profits. But for farmers, it's a different story. Through study-after-study and delay-after-delay, Mr. Harper's approach to the concerns of grain producers has been haphazard and half-hearted. There have been repeated promises of meaningful action - including two pieces of legislation to shore-up shippers' rights and "level the playing field" between shippers and railways - but nothing much gets better. Last winter, the system stuck farmers with a chaotic and costly mess. The undelivered grain carryover into this new crop year, starting this weekend, is close to 20-million tonnes. So without any new crop at all this fall, it will take well into November just to catch up on last year. The new regulations the government unveiled Friday show they still haven't got things right. On the matter of "interswitching", there is general support for this concept to try to create some element of greater competition, but it's a relatively small measure and will expire in two years. On the matter of more information and greater transparency, everyone agrees this is long overdue. You cannot manage what you don't measure. But without some form of overall system coordination, it's not clear that the mere provision of information will actually move more grain, or serve farmers better. On the extension of the Orders to the railways to move certain volumes within a certain time frame, this is essential - given the backlog that remains. But again, this provision is only temporary. It expires in November. There is no core coordination. And there is no attempt to achieve equitable treatment for all corridors (moving west, east, south and north) or for producer cars or short-line rail operators or smaller shippers or domestic users. The government has had three extra months to figure out how to ensure fairness in the system across the board and appears to have given up. On Service Level Agreements (SLAs) between shippers and railways, the new Regs provide some extra detail about what constitutes an "operational term" in any such agreement, but they also create massive exceptions and excuses. And the fundamental definition of railway "service obligations" is not improved. When railway performance fails, the enforcement tool is still primarily a fine paid to the government, not "damages" paid to farmers to compensate for their losses. A new power for the Canadian Transportation Agency (the regulatory authority) to order a railway to pay the expenses of those who have suffered losses due to railway failures is illusory - it applies only after a formal "level of service complaint" has been launched. That is an expensive, cumbersome and time consuming process that will prove too costly and largely inaccessible for most shippers. As a new harvest comes off this fall, farmers will be watching skeptically to see if the transportation and handling system is actually any better than it was last year.
    Aug 02, 2014 8:28 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana

July

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    Glad to celebrate the QC-Ex in Regina's annual parade.
    Jul 29, 2014 6:40 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Here's a prime example of what flows from Mr Harper's firesale of federal assets - all to puff-up his claim of a surplus http://www.leaderpost.com/business/Century+Indian+Head+nursery+rundown+mess/10067792/story.html
    Jul 29, 2014 9:02 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    MR. HARPER'S TRADE PERFORMANCE: BARELY MEDIOCRE About a year ago, with the fallout from Mike Duffy and ethical scandals in the Prime Minister’s Office contaminating just about everything, Stephen Harper launched an elaborate "change the channel" strategy. He shuffled his Cabinet. He prorogued Parliament once again to buy some extra time. He presented the longest and most vacuous Throne Speech that ever opened a new session of the House of Commons. And the very next day, he jetted off to Brussels, with much fanfare, to sign a long-awaited trade agreement between Canada and the European Union. It's all done, Mr. Harper said. Just a few technical points to settle among the lawyers working on the final wording, but we've got a deal, he claimed. Justin Trudeau welcomed what appeared to be the good news. He reserved final judgment until Canadians could see the legal text, but in principle, Liberals would support a well-negotiated agreement between Canada and vast markets in the EU. Such a deal would help the Canadian economy to grow. It would stimulate new middle class jobs. It would improve living standards and help bolster incomes -- wages in exporting sectors of our economy tend to be 50% higher than in sectors that are not trade intensive. But now, nearly a year later, it seems that Mr. Harper was just pulling everyone's leg. There was no reason to rush off to Belgium for a signing ceremony last fall. It was all just for show, because there is still no final deal between Canada and the EU. Germany (and possibly other countries) are signalling a veto unless major terms are renegotiated. This fiasco-in-the-making is another example of Mr. Harper's less-than-stellar record on trade. He boasts about having brought six -- count them -- six new trade deals into force since 2006. That's a fine "talking point", but here's the list: Panama, Jordan, Columbia, Peru, Honduras and the European Free Trade Association. Taken together, these markets represent just 2% of the world's GDP. That's not enough volume to make a big difference. To be fair, another agreement was concluded recently with Korea, but it's a long way from being implemented. Several others are "in progress", including multilateral talks with potential Trans-Pacific partners, but it's way too soon to predict where these will end up. Suffice it to say, for now, results over the past eight years have been slow and mediocre. A critical indicator is Canada's trade balance. For a very long time, it's been in deficit. So despite a few new trade agreements and all the spin-doctoring to puff up the government's ego, the country is not gaining the trade traction it needs to drive a decent level of economic growth. This point has been made repeatedly by the Bank of Canada. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce agrees. It says Canada's trade performance is "lagging" and "dismal", and it crunches some numbers to prove the point. According to the Chamber, after accounting for big price increases in energy products, the volume of merchandise exports shipped by Canada in 2012 was actually 5% lower than in 2000, despite a 57% increase in trade worldwide. Quite apart from trade negotiations, Canada needs a sound marketing plan, particularly in new emerging economies. We need to be present consistently, building government-to-government relationships and paving the way for exports to flow. And we need to bring coherence and some sizzle into our approach. Mr. Harper could learn some lessons about salesmanship and effective economic diplomacy from Jean Chretien's "Team Canada" trade missions in the 1990's. They built a "brand" for Canada in global trade and helped to get business done. Mr. Harper should also be far more inclusive and transparent in telling Canadians what his government is doing, and asking for their advice, to strengthen Canada's trade performance and increase exports. Just saying "trust me" doesn't work for a government that is producing such pitiful outcomes.
    Jul 28, 2014 6:35 am | Saskatchewan, Wascana
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    Mayor Clark of Rouleau makes "thank you" presentations to two of Dog River's most famous citizens, Brent + Fred.
    Jul 26, 2014 3:22 pm | Saskatchewan, Wascana

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