For those paying attention to provincial politics, the contents of the throne speech Oct. 24 didn’t contain any surprises.
There’s a lot of focus on rural crime, but the key tool the province is using to increase response times is still the Protection and Response Team, which trains highway patrol and conservation officers to make a first response to emergency situations. That’s something that was announced a year ago.
The speech has an commitment to change trespassing laws, also not a surprise considering the province has released surveys asking if public access to private rural property should require express permission from the owner.
An interesting part is about allowing communities under 500 people to join regional police forces – we’ll have to see if this is part of a plan to further promote regional co-operation or if there’s some plan in the works somewhere in the province that this change will make possible.
I think one of the key reasons there aren’t really any surprises on the rural crime front is I can’t really see what more can be done. At this point, I think the next steps are for property owners to form rural crime watches and buy technology like cameras to deter would-be thieves.
Nor is a $700,000 commitment to improve intersection across the province and plans to improve commercial truck driver training a surprise, especially with what happened in April. The key question for me is: which intersections are going to see some of that money this year. In the world of road construction, $700,000 doesn’t get you far.
There’s also the commitment to return to balanced budgets, something the provincial government has said for years they’ll do next budget. If there’s a surprise, it will be that they aren’t able to do that due to an unexpected shift in resource revenues.
Most of the other items in this year’s throne speech are reiterations of previous announcements. In the end, that’s the true message: if you liked what you’ve seen from the Saskatchewan Party government in previous years, expect more of it.