The John Deere Plow Co. Building in Saskatoon. It is now Central Stores for the City of Saskatoon. It later hopes to be home of the College of Architecture at the University of Saskatchewan.
The John Deere Plow Co. Building in Saskatoon. It is now Central Stores for the City of Saskatoon. It later hopes to be home of the College of Architecture at the University of Saskatchewan.
Gibson’s Fish & Chips. Established in 1964, it is Saskatoon’s longest continually operating independent restaurant.
In the end, it’s not a race that I am that invest in and won’t heat up until fall. I also expect at least three more names to jump into the race which will change the dynamic again and again and again.
By the time this publishes, I will be driving a 2016 Ford Focus (not the one below, this one is white) south to Regina where I meeting up with adventurer and author Robin Esrock. He is a Ford Canada brand ambassador. After meeting up (and I assume getting coffee at the Starbucks), we are heading south to Ogema, Saskatchewan (a place where I explored last year with Ford), testing out some food, riding the Southern Prairie Railway, taking in a museum, and then heading back to Regina.
Wendy and the boys are coming along for the trip. Instead of heading south with us, they are going to explore Regina and in particular, Wascana Lake and the Saskatchewan Legislature. I’ll post some photos from the trip to the blog tonight. I assume they will as well.
If you don’t want to read my account of the day, check out Elan Morgan’s blog. It’s always a good read.
There is a book signing with Robin Esrock in Regina at 7:00p.m. at the Chapters. If you come on out, I’ll be there. I won’t sign your book but we could totally do a selfie or something over coffee.
I saw Charlie Clark’s email newsletter this week and read his thoughts on the new arena debate. I didn’t really buy his arguments or rather lack of argument but it started me thinking on where you would put a downtown arena if we wanted to build it. I grabbed a camera and a tripod and went for a walk.
I set up the tripod for the last shot and it worked a lot better. I wish I had for the other ones but I was stopped a couple of times by both police and a City of Saskatoon employee. All of them were super cool about it, they recognized me and wanted to see what I was up to but it was kind of through me off my game. The next vlog will be better.
This is the first of my daily vlogs. Just some quick stories made into a short video.
During the federal election, I remember watching long term Parliament Hill reporters in shock at some of the NDP and Conservative MPs who were losing. They all said the same thing; they were hard working, not hyper partisan, and cared a lot about constituent issues.
I was reminded of the same when Cam Broten lost tonight. I have known Cam for five or six years and have seen him work extremely hard as an MLA on a lot of different issues. Because of Wendy’s job and the neighborhood we live in, she has referred many people to talk to Cam and seek his help. Most times they have reported to her that Cam’s office was able to help them sort out their problems; even if it wasn’t a provincial issue. He was a great MLA. I was always happy to see him and he has been in Wendy’s and my home.
For a bunch of reasons, it didn’t work out for him as the leader of the opposition. Winning such a tight leadership race which was essentially the centric base of the NDP versus the left wing made it impossible to consolidate the party. It also probably didn’t help that the “socialist” Bernie Sanders was making inroads in the Democratic primary and the left wing Rachel Notley is Premier of Alberta (even if she won because of a right wing civil war). There was this feeling amongst many is that Broten was too centrist for the NDP, even if that is the kind of leader that Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert were. I don’t think the comments from Ryan Meili were overly helpful. Neither was him not getting involved to help move the party forward. It hurt Broten, it hurt the NDP.
Also, Brad Wall is incredibly popular. How do you attack an incredibly popular Premier without upsetting people. I keep hearing people he should have gone negative even more but that’s hard when people won’t believe it; remember, you have to believe in it for negative ads to work. Also without the NDP having any rural strength, how do you actually act like a government in waiting. This election was going to be bad regardless. I said the upside was 20, the low was 5. I predicted 14. They got 10.
In the last week I could feel the vote collapsing for the NDP. You could feel voters making the move to the Saskatchewan Party. I don’t know why it happened but once it happens, it’s almost impossible to stop. If Cam wasn’t the leader of the opposition, he would have survived with his seat but he was and Saskatchewan loses a hard working public servant. That’s the reality of politics.
Tonight, the NDP need to do some soul searching. Their party doesn’t exist outside of the inner city Saskatoon, Regina, and part of Prince Albert and now they have the same problem they came into this election with, a new leader, a caucus that didn’t run under the new leader, and nothing close to a rural breakthrough in sight. It is a party that is a centre left party in a province that has swung to the right. So whoever it is that is the new leader, have fun because one thing that we have learned is that being the leader of the Saskatchewan NDP could be the most thankless job in Saskatchewan.
As I wrote about on Thursday, Ford Canada sent Wendy, Oliver, Mark, and myself to the 2016 Ford World Women’s Curling Championship in Swift Current, Saskatchewan on Friday and Saturday. Not only that but they gave us a 2016 Ford Explorer for the weekend to get us there and back.
I was given the vehicle on Thursday which gave me a day to get used to it. The Explorer is what you would expect from a luxury SUV. Lot of room, heated seats, air conditioned seats, heated steering wheel. Six cup holders up front. Heated seats in the second row. It also has different traction controls which on Thursday, it looked like I would need as we drove to Rosetown and then down south on Highway 4.
On Friday afternoon as we got ready to leave for Swift Current, I was loading the SUV with our bags and I noticed it had a third row of seats. Immediately Oliver volunteered to sit back there and chill out with his Nintendo 3DS. I picked up Wendy from work and we headed south with Mark in the middle row.
While three rows is more than we need, having it is amazing when travelling with a family. Both boys just did their own thing and didn’t say a word to each other. Not only that but because they weren’t on each other’s nerves for the ride down, they seemed almost thrilled to hang out again in the hotel and dinner. Not only did it make for a nicer drive, it made for a better drive.
The ride was the one thing I was curious about. Last week at this time, summer was here. Then winter came back and the weather was cool and snowy all week. I was wondering how the Ford Explorer would handle the roads between here and Swift Current. For those of you who don’t know, the Ford SUVs are incredible in slippery conditions. They drop down, add extra stability, and more or less own winter. Luckily the weather improved and it was a snow and ice free drive from Saskatoon to Swift Current and back. Not being able to test the all weather capability of the Ford Explorer was okay with me but it is nice to know about when you need it.
Wendy was incredibly sick on Friday and slept for most of the way. While the highways isn’t the best, the ride was quiet enough and smooth enough that she slept from outside of Saskatoon to almost Swift Current. She woke up in time for me to discover the seat massager which helped her with a really sore back. Combine that with heated seats, it made a big difference in her weekend. Wendy made a good point in writing about the weekend, the heated seats feel amazing if you are under the weather.
Of course the best part of the drive was that we listened to ESPN Radio. On ESPN, they aired constant commercials for Zyppah which is an anti snoring device. So Wendy is sleeping and snoring up a storm and every time the commercial comes on, we all crack up. Well except for Wendy, who was snoring.
When we got down to Swift Current, we check into the Motel 6 suite that Ford booked for us. It is a great hotel and was fine for the family. We got unpacked and went for a drive around Swift Current while we decided on dinner. Everyone we talked to suggested Wong’s Kitchen which is where we ended up. After ordering an order for 4, we all laughed when it came out. It was the biggest portions that I have ever seen in my life. It could have fed 10. After barely making a dent into pile of food, we called it a night and went back to the hotel.
If I have one complaint about the hotel it is that the chain doesn’t have a feedback form online so I can leave comments about how great of stay it was. Yes some idiots stumbled into the hotel early in the morning and woke everyone up but that isn’t the hotel’s fault. Being a concrete building, I only heard it on my floor and no clomping around above me. The room was clean, the service was good, and the free coffee was appreciated.
The next morning was early. All of us wanted to get up and explore a bit of Swift Current and get a good meal before heading to the Credit Union iPlex for the start of the curling. We got up, went to Humpty’s, stopped by Cypress Motors Ltd. and picked up our tickets and then checked out downtown Swift Current.
The architecture of First United Church
Then it was off to the Credit Union iPlex to get our seats before the Opening Ceremonies began.
I learned something very important yesterday. It doesn’t matter how loud you are or how many speakers your public address system has, it means nothing when 13 bag pipers walk into your hockey arena. The M.C. wasn’t quite done yet when the Pipes and drums from Saskatoon Legion #63 decided to make an entrance. No matter what needed to be said, the room belonged to these pipers.
There is nothing quite like 13 bag pipers going all out to start an event off right.
Before you ask where the photos are of Team Canada, the additional lighting that was installed to illuminate the ice worked great but Team Canada was marched in right in front of us, outside the additional lights. To make a long story short, my photos of them sucked.
So the after the pipers, piped, the drummers drummed and the speakers spoke, we had two hours to kill. I have written about how bad the food was at SaskTel Centre is before. Then I go to Swift Current where the food is absolutely amazing. There were so many choices that it was kind of overwhelming. Not only were there choices beyond burgers and nachos, there were good and exciting choices. So instead of leaving the arena, we ate there and were thrilled with our choice.
There was a souvenir area that I went in with Wendy. I wanted to give her a curling rock themed toque but she said absolutely not. Instead I got her a t-shirt, a coffee cup, and a pair of curling rock shaped earrings. Oliver wanted a Canadian flag to wave so I got him that and a pin. Everyone was full and happy when they sat down for the start of the first draw.
For you curling fans out there, Canada fell into a deep hole, climbed out of it, gained the lead, lost the lead, and then won in overtime. It was a little tense for those of us who were right there. We were all happy and relieved when Team Canada pulled out the win against a great team from Denmark.
So this is the Russian skip. She never said a single word the entire game. She was playing (and destroying) the Italian team whose skip talked the entire game. One sheet over was the Japanese team who screamed, pleaded, and begged the rock to do what she wanted it to (it worked as her team won) but the Russian skip was quiet all game. Never yelled the Russian equivalent of hurry or hard once. Of course from where I was watching, the Italian team was out classed so maybe she was quiet because she didn’t need to say anything.
After leaving the Credit Union iPlex, we fueled up and started the drive home. It’s a great driving SUV. I am still really partial to the Ford Escape, if I was looking for something larger, the Ford Explorer is a great option. It made a long drive seem effortless. If you are looking for a larger SUV that seats seven, this is what you are looking for. I drove over 600 kilometers in it and didn’t have a complaint. Even more importantly, no one else in the family did either.
Last night w got home in decent time and called it a night. While the Motel 6 in Swift Current was great, there is nothing quite like sleeping in your own bed, even if that means you have to fight a dog for space and covers.
Wendy writes about her weekend with the Ford Explorer and the 2016 World Women’s Championships here.
I was down in Swift Current this weekend. It’s a gorgeous city that has benefitted from the oil boom tremendously. You see it everywhere from box seats in the Credit Union iPlex to new buildings throughout town. Better wheat and grain prices haven’t hurt either.
Every conversation I was a part of… while checking into the hotel to breakfast at the Humpty’s to the conversations around me at the curling contained one word; layoffs and how scared people were as they hit closer and close to home.
Oil is the economy in Swift Current. Oil and farming. With the family farm nearly extinct (something you really notice driving down Highway 4), there are less and less opportunities to make money. That was the boom of the oil fields. People who had no choice to go to Alberta for work could stay at home and get jobs. Now neither option is on the table and people are scared.
I have heard some people say, “why can’t they go back and farm”. 40 years ago that was an option. Family farms were smaller which meant smaller and less expensive machinery, land values were smaller and you could make a living on a section or a section and a half of land. I’ve had friends who have tried to start up farming. It was almost impossible to do, even with family help. Equipment costs are one hurdle but with corporate farms able to pay well above market rate for farmland, the small farmer doesn’t stand a chance.
So what’s the plan for the provincial government? Not a lot actually. Neither the Saskatchewan Party (let’s be honest, they’ve run out of ideas) and the NDP (who are ignoring rural Saskatchewan in this election) don’t have any. The Saskatchewan Party is paving highways and is going to replenish the rainy day fund (which they have depleted running deficit after deficit when times were good) when oil hits $75 a barrel.
Note to the rest of us, $75 a barrel oil is delusional. It may not return for years.
Which gets to my point. The Sask Party is more or less telling us that this is a momentary blip and things will be okay on the other side. It’s good politics but horrible governance because they don’t know if things get better ever again. It reminds me of when Grant Devine used to say and believe that things will be okay as soon as the rain returns and the prices rebound. It never did in his time in power and people were hurt.
There isn’t an easy solution. Saskatchewan doesn’t have a large manufacturing base but part of me wonders that small targeted investing and mentoring in larger Saskatchewan towns and smaller cities as a way to help people start and grow small businesses is needed. We have the same kind of things in the city with Ideas Inc and whatever it is that SREDA is doing (basically the same thing as Ideas Inc is doing but I am too lazy to Google it. Oh wait, it’s called Square One and it the same kind of thing as Ideas Inc but without office space.)
Make it competitive. Go after only the best ideas. Keep politicians out of it. Use the model of Y! Combinator.
The startups move to Silicon Valley for 3 months, during which we work intensively with them to get the company into the best possible shape and refine their pitch to investors. Each cycle culminates in Demo Day, when the startups present their companies to a carefully selected, invite-only audience.
Maybe that is the wrong model, maybe it is the right one. All I know is there needs to be a long game of building entrepreneurial capacity and hope in Saskatchewan that isn’t based solely on the price of Brent crude. The Saskatchewan Party kind of flails at the topic when they suggest it to be easier for more home made food to be sold in gas stations. Outside of the entire discussion of food safe practices and the rather demeaning nature of this policy, they are right in that it needs to be easier for home based businesses to make money and hopefully hire employees.
The easy option will be to try to do this with government spending on mega projects or pie in the sky schemes to attract manufacturers to Saskatchewan. Anyone recall that airplane manufacturer that was going to make airplanes in Saskatoon? That turned out well didn’t it? I can go on and on about the NDP schemes as well. Megaprojects aren’t saving rural Saskatchewan.
The only thing going on in rural Saskatchewan is resource extraction of some sort and unless we want to keep living a boom and bust cycle, finding ways for rural Saskatchewan to be about more than oil, farming, and government jobs, something has to change and right now, it isn’t even a political discussion.
I don’t know if Ford knows this but the drive from Saskatoon to Swift Current is a lot of fun. First of all you drive from Saskatoon to Rosetown which is no fun at all. Then once you turn south, the drive gets better. You get into some hills and curves. The scenery is great. There are giant wind farms. There is Saskatchewan Landing. Just thinking about taking that SUV down to Swift Current makes me smile. I love driving that road.
So why am I doing this? Well let’s get this out the way.
Okay, so I mentioned Ford is putting Wendy, Mark, Oliver and I up at the Motel 6 in Swift Current. The place looks like the inside of an Ikea show hotel. I can’t wait to take some photos and show you. I actually am nervous sleeping in it because I am afraid that someone is going to wander through and want to buy part a piece of furniture on their way to go and look at oversized coffee mugs. The most cutting edge hotel in Saskatchewan is a Motel 6 in Swift Current. Try to get your head around that.
There isn’t a lot to do in Swift Current but I will see what I can photograph and explore there. Several locals have given me some suggestions on where to eat.
Once we eat and are secured safely back into the Motel 6 with the NCAA basketball tournament on, I’ll post a review on how the 2016 Ford Explorer handles and a little bit about the trip.
One last thing, Mark is in driver’s ed but doesn’t quite have his learner’s license yet. In his (delusional) mind he was so close to test driving the Ford Explorer that he could taste it. Then I told him that he had to be either 18 or 21 to be able to drive one which pretty much crushed his spirits, hopes, and dreams. He was quite happy tonight to be able to ride in the front seat. As he said, “all he had to do was picture being in the U.K. and it was like he was driving.” I admire his spirit.
In case you missed it but Tammy Robert is blogging again here. If you are reading my blog, you are clearly looking for correct opinions and commentary but if you want the, err, contrarian view to what is correct and right, check out her site.
For the provincial election, Tammy is doing some excellent commentary on the campaigns. If this election gets you excited, her blog may be the best one out there.
This election series is dragging on as long as the GOP nomination race. I had hoped the series would have been done by now but I’ve been sick with the leg again (still). The medication is taking a lot out of me.
Well we onto Ward 3, a race that has become far less interesting with it looking like Mike San Miguel won’t be running again. So there will be no Iwanchuk/San Miguel III, something that political pundits all over the city will miss watching.
Ann Iwanchuk won in a 2011 by-election and won in 2012 against Mike San Miguel. Some people feel that San Miguel would have won if he hadn’t put out a poorly thought out attack ad on the last week of the campaign. He may have but the attack ad went out and Iwanchuk won.
This is how close the election was. Ann Iwanchuk was driving the #11 car.
(okay, that was actually Denny Hamlin winning the 2016 Daytona 500 but you get the point… it was a close race).
With Mike San Miguel not running again, Ann Iwanchuk should have a clear path to re-election. If I was thinking about running against her, I hope I’d have someone to talk me out of it. Here is why.
So if you want to waste a couple of months of your life and $15,000 so you run against her, here is how I would do it:
You are basically reduced to door knocking and hoping your well liked incumbent thinks the election is in November of 2017. Good luck with that.
It’s going to be a boring election in Ward 3 no matter who runs against Ann Iwanchuk. While I have heard of one person considering a run, by the time the summer comes along, I could see her run for re-election be uncontested.
Here is the next edition of “Running for City Council”. Darren Hill and Ward 1 were featured here. Now I wander across 33rd Street into Ward 1 where we look at Pat Lorje, the long time councilor of the riding.
Pat Lorje is currently a city councilor for Ward 2 in Saskatoon,Saskatchewan. She previously held the same position from 1979 to 1991, when she resigned to stand as the New Democratic candidate in Saskatoon Wildwood in the 1991 provincial election. She was re-elected to the Ward in 2006, 2009, and 2012.
So yeah, she has some name recognition in the Ward and gets a lot of her support from the neighborhoods of Montgomery and Caswell Hill. It’s not that other neighborhoods don’t like her, it is just that none of the turn out in enough number to determine an election.
So what would my strategy be if I was running against a well known incumbent councilor? During the last election, a politician said that it didn’t matter what their opponent did, they just had to worry about getting to a certain number of votes and there was a number of ways to get to that vote total. The same thing would apply in Ward 2 and the secret is to cobbling together a coalition of voters who are frustrated with city life in Ward 2 and getting them out to vote. This is how I would do it.
The NDP haven’t faced a serious re-election battle in Riversdale since Jo-Ann Zazelenchuk beat Roy Romanow in 1982. They generally won handily in the area but that has started to change. I have written before about the declining margins of victory that Danielle Chartier has won by in Saskatoon Riversdale which has gotten to the point where she is vulnerable to being beaten by the right Saskatchewan Party candidate (Not sure Marv Friesen is that candidate but you never know). My point is that it looks like parts of that ward are voting right wing more often. No longer is Montgomery home to veterans, it is home to an eclectic group of people who haven’t been voting for Lorje since before I was born.
Despite Montgomery being her base, it’s been a tough time for the neighborhood. Despite several passionate speeches to City Council, Lorje wasn’t able to stop the wind turbine (which was a good idea until it came back economically unfeasible) and the construction of hundreds of new units of apartments. The new City Operations Centre is going south of Montgomery. The South Circle Drive Bridge and Circle Drive bring 24 hour traffic noise by Montgomery. For a community that thinks of itself as a first among equals, much has changed a lot and people aren’t happy about it. In the end, the wind turbine might have been the best of all things that could have happened.
Convincing those voters to either vote for you or stay at home on election day.
The Montgomery Apartments
Even if the older part of Montgomery holds, there are a lot of new voters to the community in those apartments. They aren’t long term supporters of Lorje and are open to anyone who is going to go after them. A flyer drop to those apartments reinforcing some of Lorje’s and Montgomery’s residents statements about those apartments could make it really awkward for her.
The same thing with the Riversdale BID. Lorje has been a large proponent of the business aspect part of it but against social programs being located there. In a community that has seen it’s share of gentrification, a campaign reminding voters that Lorje has been against the services that are needed to help them could bring out voters in Riversdale. Lorje and I have disagreed for years on these kinds of policies but that doesn’t matter. If the voter is against gentrification, the answer is that it has happened because of the focus on business development on 20th Street with the kind of growth that has locked out local people. If they are frustrated with the ongoing issues with crime and social issues, it is because there is no room for the social agencies to help them. The question always is will Riversdale and Pleasant Hill turn out in enough numbers to vote? History says no.
Crime is rising in the city (thank goodness the City of Saskatoon Police were there to save us from the Compassion Club) and it is increasingly violent and more serious in Ward 2 where it is heavily concentrated. This is one of those issues that is almost impossible to blame on Lorje, the issues are beyond the control of any one councilor but because of the incredible density of it in Ward 2 residents feel it. To be honest, this isn’t a big issue to attack the incumbent with and it won’t be that hard to beat back but it could be problematic if people are frustrated in Meadow Green, Caswell Hill, Riversdale, and Pleasant Hill and are asked, “Do you feel safer than you were in 2012?” For most, the answer is no.
Is Lorje prone to be swept away if a sea of change finally hits City Hall? Actually no. That is the advantage of being an outspoken councilor, she has her own brand of politics that is separate from the rest of City Councils. If a mood to change sweeps across the mighty South Saskatchewan River, Lorje is in a good place to ride it out.
It all comes down to whether or not someone can figure out the issues to motivate your coalition of voters to turn out on election day. I think it could happen but it would be a long and drawn out campaign combined with a mayoral campaign that can bring out non typical voters. If that happens, it could be the race to watch on election night.
Well that was fun. My column this morning on the Mayor missing the first day of the Big City Mayor’s Conference got a lot of feedback. When I say feedback, what I am really saying is that most people hope I move out of the city soon.
One friend asked me that if I was Atch’s chief of staff, what would I do to make him a better mayor in 2016. I really don’t have a problem with Atch personally and I think some things can’t change but here would be my list for what I think any mayor should do.
I don’t know if anyone running has those traits but the more they do, the better off the city will be.