According to the Saskatchewan NDP, the Sask. Party does not care about Prince Albert.
The Legislative Assembly of Saskatchewan, media and supporters hear this message constantly -- most notably during the second bridge debate.
Prince Albert’s three local area MLAs are without cabinet positions and none of them have been advocating for a second North Saskatchewan River crossing.
These are the two basic messages, repeated and massaged to the point of mindless repetition, with very little added to the second bridge debate.
Ultimately, the Saskatchewan NDP has a point. When reviewing the STANTEC report that concluded the city does not currently need a second river crossing and won’t for a couple decades, local area MLAs should have said, “Although I understand and support the Sask. Party’s stance on not supporting a second bridge, I will continue to advocate on behalf of my constituents.”
Instead, they hang their hats on the bridge report and backed up its findings 100 per cent, without question.
Even though area MLAs failed to advocate on the part of constituents on this one item, it’s hard to imagine they’re completely ignoring the Prince Albert area, as the provincial NDP has implied.
Prince Albert Northcote MLA Victoria Jurgens has been advocating for a new or renewed Victoria Hospital, and look what has come of it -- a $2 million study to help determine the best course of action in improving the aging and constant at or over-capacity Victoria Hospital.
During a recent luncheon in Prince Albert, Finance Minister Ken Krawetz said; “The next major project’s going to be here in Prince Albert,” referencing the Victoria Hospital.
On top of that is Carlton Comprehensive Public High School’s new gymnasium, Pineview Terrace Lodge funding, the twinning of Highway 11 to Saskatoon, millions in repairs to the Diefenbaker bridge and various other odds and ends area elected officials constantly pat themselves on the back for, as any good politician will.
But, to hear it from the Sask. NDP, the province is completely ignoring the Prince Albert area -- a point they’re desperate to make.
Last summer the NDP issued a press release quoting people from the St. Louis side of the flooded section of Highway 2 south of Prince Albert.
Within the quotes was an allegation that the Sask. Party had yet to take action on clearing the highway of water -- the latest example of their ignoring of Prince Albert area needs.
Had they done some fact-checking, they would have known that the government was already hard at work pumping water downstream.
But, far be it from them to recognize something positive the government has done -- not that Opposition parties are known for positivity.
When they perpetuate the notion that the province does not care about the Prince Albert area, they paint the area in a poor light for the balance of the province.
Although they project their comments as advocating for the Prince Albert area, they’re actually doing it a disservice.
They claim area MLAs have completely failed to advocate on behalf of local constituents but the evidence suggests otherwise.
On Monday, Premier Brad Wall finally confirmed that his government’s ears are open to the possibility of a second North Saskatchewan River crossing -- albeit, within their balanced budget approach, which can make things tricky.
“If the city was going to go ahead with a proposed PPP Canada, which would require the city of Prince Albert to make an investment, (would) we would talk about that? Absolutely we would.”
On Nov. 1, 2011 -- during the run-up to the provincial election -- then-Saskatchewan NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter announced that his government would invest half of the funds necessary to build a second North Saskatchewan River crossing at Prince Albert -- a project expected to cost about $100 million.
The PPP Canada model (P3) model Wall is now hinting at would include a federal, provincial and municipal contribution.
Although percentages have yet to be discussed, it’s nice to see the Sask. Party making progress. Maybe they aren’t ignoring the financial commitment the NDP made three years ago either.
Prince Albert Daily Herald