Letters: Columnist wrong to suggest education needs can be ignored

‘This is just the worst sort of populist pandering. There is also a whiff of political cynicism about it,’ writes Ian Hanna.

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I read with incredulity the Jan. 4 column in this newspaper by the premier’s former director of digital operations, Dale Richardson, on our province’s current fiscal position.

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Mr. Richardson, whom I know and whose work I respect, is urging Saskatchewan’s Finance Minister Donna Harpauer to keep saying “no” to those calling for renewed investments in health and education.

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This is poor public policy and threatens to further erode basic services that we all count on. “Just Say No” might be an appealing catch phrase. However, it is a poor substitute for actual governance, which is all about making intelligent choices.

And as a former government communicator myself, I feel it’s important to make the case for renewed investments in some important areas. In education, I believe Saskatchewan is heading in the wrong direction.

In terms of per student funding — perhaps the most meaningful metric for determining a government’s commitment to public education — Saskatchewan has slipped from first to sixth place amongst provinces and territories.

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The funding squeeze our classrooms are experiencing also comes at a time when enrolment is increasing at record rates. Talk to any teacher if you want to find out the practical consequences of this squeeze in education operating dollars.

As one Regina teacher recently told the Minister of Education: “I love my job, but you’re sure making it hard to do.” Against the backdrop of the  dramatic 2022-23 budget turnaround, Richardson writes: “It would be wise to send another round of affordability cheques out to Saskatchewan residents.”

This is just the worst sort of populist pandering. There is also a whiff of political cynicism about it.

Handing out cheques to individual voters might be good short-term politics, but it betrays a fundamental obligation of an elected official: making choices that take into account the collective good while maintaining important public services like health care and education.

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Ian Hanna, Regina

(Hanna was a director of communication for the Saskatchewan Party government and a director of government relations for the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation.)

Peaceful nations don’t need fighter jets

The letter from Roy Schneider of Regina contradicting Prime Minster Justin Trudeau’s claim that Canada is “a country of peace” is true and I agree with him that Canada has never been a country of peace.

So maybe we don’t need $19 billion worth of F-35s. The temptation to use them in continuing to provoke Russia and China will be too great.

Maybe we’ll wind up using them in Libya and Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. I don’t recall ever being bombed or threatened by any of these countries.

It’s time for Canada to start respecting the United Nations Charter, the sovereignty of other countries and recognize that violence and war is a last resort — not the national pastime.

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Martin Shaw, Coldwater, Ont.


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