Throne speech offers little in the way of new ideas

Sometimes, probably without consciously trying to do it, politicians can end up parroting the rather obvious.

Such was the case when the Saskatchewan government delivered its latest Throne Speech.

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Not surprisingly the Speech, delivered by Lt.-Gov. Russ Mirasty, talks a lot about building toward the future.

It goes down the path of building for two rather obvious reasons.

The first being that we are only two months away from the start of a new decade and that is always a rather fitting time to establish some benchmarks and goals for the years ahead.

The reality of politics is, of course, with a provincial election set for 2020 this is this edition of the government’s last Throne Speech before going to the polls, and so using the Speech to begin laying out its platform for re-election only makes sense.

The Speech naturally suggests the 2020s will be a decade of growth for the province.

Again not a startling position since no government is going to suggest decline is coming when they are in charge.

And, in the case of population the recent trend has been one of growth, and it is hoped that continues.

Right now that might be questioned by some as job layoff notices across a range of industries; potash, electricians and others are all too common. However, a plan for growth over a decade is one that has to look beyond the periodic ups and downs of an economy. For example, the potash sector has faced layoffs in the past, and then rebounded as the demand for the commodity bounces back.

So the government, through the Speech, is promising to unveil a plan for Saskatchewan to achieve a population of 1.4 million and 100,000 more jobs by 2030. There is no doubt the suggested growth itself will create economic activity, the new residents requiring homes, clothing, food, and cars, so if achieved it is a definite positive.

The Speech also talks in the broadest terms about growth in agriculture.

“Increasing crop production and growing the percentage of primary agricultural production that is processed in our province will be part of our plan moving forward,” said the Speech. “Growth in the value of exports requires more value-added production. To ensure our province reaps the full benefit of our agricultural resources, my government will outline measures to increase agricultural value-added exports to $10 billion by 2030.”

Realistically there has never been a time when the farm sector has not looked to grow production. That is the essence of a business plan for most producers, grow more bushels on the same number of acres to improve the bottom line.

Value-added is a different thing. The idea of increasing that side of agriculture expends back decades now and the countryside is littered with failed hog barns, flax straw processors, dead alfalfa dehydrators, failed pea chip plants and more. That side of the government’s plan will be far more interesting to view, but the core idea of value-added is far from new.