A New Leaf Or Two

FTLComm - Tisdale - May 16, 2001
There is no rain in those clouds that darken this 9:00AM May morning, only twelve knots of West wind that bounds across the flat land ripples over the buildings and rustles the newly formed leaves. Two men struggle with tape measures as they get ready to put on the floor joyce at the Golden Age Centre.

In Ottawa, a thousand miles away, and it might as well be ten thousand miles away the eyes and ears of the news gathering world are focused on the impending and gruesome details of the Canadian Alliance party who hold a caucus meeting today.

One would think the Prime Minister's announcement that the budget surplus expected to be ten billion will instead be fifteen billion, (for those of you keeping score that is a 50% error) would have been the most important news.

But even the minister of finance is lamenting the condition of the loyal opposition as they are so painfully nonexistent that as Paul Martin says, "It's hard to have a meaningful debate with an opposition that has no position." Paul Martin expressed legitimate and appropriate concern because Canada's parliamentary system is dependent upon opposing forces tackling the issues, this confrontation allows the public a chance to voice their opinion and based on that, government can make informed decisions. But without a meaningful opposition there is only wind, and more wind.

This morning the mayor of Ridgedale explained the water problems of his community and its hundred residents. The provincial and federal governments are both scrambling to deal with the embarrassment of Battleford and a year ago Walkerton as a report identifies over one hundred Saskatchewan communities with water problems. Government, be it provincial or federal is such an easy target, as the elected folks in charge if the stuff hits the fan they are going to get plastered with it yet what about the opposition. Have they been doing there job in Ottawa or Regina, have they been doing their duty to their constituents or have they been ineffective fooling around with their own issues when they should be hammering the government for neglect and failure to live up to the various environmental acts already in place?

I think you would have to agree that for a decade we have had no real opposition to keep either the federal government or the provincial one actively doing its duty. The idea of an opposition is as important as having a government and the oppositions have been woefully inadequate.

What has happened has been the development of so many people, many you read on the pages of Ensign or Saskatchewan News who appear to be ranting away about what may seem to you as obscure problems, but the reality is that without a descent and organised opposition we, the complainers and ranters, have had to step into the void and fill the need for an effective opposition to government.

Many of you do not share my glowing worship of John Diefenbaker and that is fine, but he did more for this country than can be possibly imagined and he did it as a member of the opposition. Keep in mind that one of the most important things about our country, free medical care, came into being from the opposition. If you look at the history of this country you will discover that most of the good stuff and some of the bad, originated from the work of great parliamentarians most of whom were not in government. Stanley Knowles sat in opposition for his whole life and Canada is a better place because of that fact.

Joe Clark has proved this year the merit of being a good member of parliament and so has Doucet as these people have made it their job to direct government focus to the needs of the electorate. With a budget surplus in Regina and Ottawa the opposition has to be on its toes and on the job, it is unfortunate that in both places the lack of a cohesive and coordinated opposition is hurting us, as a country, as a province and as individuals.


Timothy W. Shire