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Lingenfelter rips government at NDP meeting

NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter took aim at Premier Brad Wall and his government on a range of provincial issues last Thursday night at the Western Development Museum.
NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter was guest speaker at the NDP Battlefords constituency nomination meeting.

NDP leader Dwain Lingenfelter took aim at Premier Brad Wall and his government on a range of provincial issues last Thursday night at the Western Development Museum.

Lingenfelter was in North Battleford to support Len Taylor, who was re-nominated to run for a third term in the legislature for the NDP in the November 2011 provincial election. He was also there as the guest speaker at the meeting, held before about 75 local members and other party supporters.

During the speech Lingenfelter took the Saskatchewan Party government to task on a wide variety of issues such as the proposal for a new Regina domed stadium, the potash issue and flood and farmer relief.

He noted there have never been so many health concerns in Saskatchewan and touched on the need to replace Saskatchewan Hospital, which he cited as one of the reasons Taylor needed to be returned to the legislature.

"We need to invest in this community," said Lingenfelter, who said he's seen many projects put on hold in the province during his time in opposition, including the children's hospital in Saskatoon.

In fact, earlier in the day in Saskatoon, Premier Brad Wall's government made an announcement major funding of $200 million earlier in the day.

Lingenfelter raised some eyebrows in the crowd about the timing of the announcement, which he thought coincided with the looming call of the by-election in Saskatoon Northwest on Monday.

He called the funding announcement "one of the most blatant political moves to try and win the by-election."

Speaking to the News-Optimist after the event, Lingenfelter said people were suspicious of the government "playing politics" with the children's hospital issue, which he adds won't even be completed for another five years.

"I think people in Saskatoon and in the province are a little suspect of the premier when for three years he hasn't done anything on the children's hospital," said Lingenfelter.

The NDP leader also questioned whether the Wall government would see the construction of the children's hospital to the end.

Lingenfelter critcized the government's approach to the issue of the proposed BHP Billiton takeover of PotashCorp, questioning the government's move to go to central Canada to seek advice on the issue from the Conference Board of Canada.

"I think most of us - (Allan) Blakeney, (Peter) Lougheed, myself - we spent most of our life fighting Central Canada about the control of resources, and control of our potash.

"Now for Brad Wall to look to the investment companies and bankers in central Canada to give me advice on how to develop our resources - that worries me a lot," Lingenfelter said after his speech.

During his speech the NDP leader also questioned the approach the provincial government was taking in funding a new domed stadium in Regina. He was careful to say his party wasn't opposed to the project, but said funding such a project shouldn't be done before farmers and day care workers and social programs are looked after first.

"The tax dollars that we pay should be used first for health care and education, helping people in natural disasters," said Lingenfelter in his speech, who said the private sector should come to the table first to fund the dome stadium.

Lingenfelter also was critical of the government for what he saw as a failure to come through for farmers hit by the heavy moisture and flooding in the province.

He called it "one of the toughest years that farmers have ever seen in the history of this province," and said forecasts predicted that the bad situation for farmers to get even worse, starting that Thursday night.

"We're going to have our first killing frost tonight," Lingenfelter said.

Lingenfelter repeated his call for $100 an acre for crops that had been flooded or damaged, saying many young farmers would have to leave the land without it. He took the premier to task again for not making the request for the $100 an acre payment to begin with. Lingenfelter said that when the auto industry was in trouble in Ontario Saskatchewan came to its aid, and felt there would be little opposition from Ontario to helping Saskatchewan in its time of need as well.

Lingenfelter said he looked forward to the election campaign to come in 2011 and expected strong campaigns from all the parties. The NDP is expecting the moribund Progressive Conservatives under Rick Swenson to have a much stronger presence in the next election.

Lingenfelter said he had been told the PCs are planning to run candidates in the upcoming Saskatoon Northwest by-election and were also planning to run in the Cypress Hills area in 2011.

"I think it's going to be very exciting because you're going to have strong Liberals around the province, strong Conservatives, Sask. Party and the NDP," Lingenfelter said.

He expects the dynamics of the 2011 election to be fundamentally different as a result.

"Anybody who expects it to be a replay of '07 just doesn't understand how things move and change and the ebb and flow of politics in this province, and I think we'll be very competitive in 2011."

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