Source: CBC News: Sask. Habitat Protection Proposal Raises Furor
The Wall Government announced today that 1.2 million hectares, that's 2,965,264 acres, of government owned land is going to be sold off. Now, the only issue is that the land is currently under wildlife and environmental protection.
The Wall Government has said that of that land only 10% of it can be sold without requiring wildlife and environmental protections to remain in place; the remaining 90% will be divided in to lands that cannot be resold and land which can be sold but still be protected.
The reason for this move, as announced by the Government, is to allow ranchers who have leased these lands for generations, in some cases, to finally own the land. However, it may not be as cut and dry as all that.
The NDP Opposition suggests that this deal is nothing more than a 'cash-grab' by the Wall Government, a charge that Environmental Minister Nancy Heppner denies. It should be noted, that as of today, no announcement of how much the government stands to make from these land sales has been made.
So, which is more likely?
Is the Saskatchewan Party Government really concerned about ranchers and farmers being able to own the land that they are currently leasing? Or is the NDP right, in that this is just an attempt by the government to put more money into the coffers after their two disastrous years as economic stewards?
Why don't we ask James Ripplinger? In February, a story came out (link) that stated that James Ripplinger, was unhappy with the Wall Government's decision to expropriate his land. The land was seized by the government, with the price still being negotiated to the best of my knowledge, so that a private company could establish a 'Global Transportation Hub' in the area.
So, what we have here, is a past instance of the Wall Government seizing land from a farmer to hand that land over to private enterprise.
Now, the Wall Government is saying that it is their compassion for farmers and ranchers to own their land that is driving this decision to sell off this government owned and protected land.
Somehow, I don't think Mr. Ripplinger would agree with that assessment, given his treatment by the government.
So, either the Government is being hypocritical; by suggesting that they are in favour of farmers and ranchers owning their land, but have historically seized land from individuals for their own ends in the past...
Or, the Government is attempting to reconnect with their rural base, and hoping that they've all forgotten about the expropriation in the past.
Either way, with this record, it seems painfully clear that the Wall Government does not care about these lands, and their excuse for wanting to see them is indeed nothing more than a parlour game to entice rural voters to keep supporting a party which is quickly turning their back on them.
Saskatchewan will lose these lands, and in perhaps a decade's time, we'll see real environmental degradation, both in the land and the wildlife that populate our province. And the only reason it happened, was so that the Saskatchewan Party could attempt to make a quick buck.