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Wednesday, 04 December 2013 11:36

The power of positive thinking amongst younger leaders

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It was not a good day for hundreds of potash workers at the mines near Lanigan.


PotashCorp. announced they were laying off 440 in Saskatchewan and many of them would be let go just before the end of the year. Potash has been kind of an albatross hanging around the neck of the Sask. Party. The timing is bad just prior to the Yuletide season for those poor families, so it will be interesting to watch how an ultra-postive person such as Wall handles this situation.
His first concern was to say the government would help those families find new work. He basically stated in a Dec. 3 news release, ‘no worries, the province is doing well, it will help the workers however it can.’
It’s a typical response from Wall and it’s not a bad thing. It’s been a decent year for Premier Brad Wall and his Sask Party. Considering Saskatchewan is in good shape with its natural resources — thanks to decades of the NDP not tapping into its full potential — and the market is still there, Saskatchewan’s fortunes seem to be on the upswing. Why? Because Brad says so. More often than not, one tends to believe what he says. Is that necessarily a good thing? No, not if it’s blind devotion, but to garner some faith and confidence because your leader does, definitely is not a bad thing.
Wall will garner criticism from those angry about overestimation of potash revenue/royalties generated from potash. This was due to the fact Uralaki, one of the world’s largest potash producers was able to drive the price of potash down due to the ability to being able to direct all export volumes themselves after leaving a European cartel.
While this is a horrible time for those families and perhaps the words by the Saskatchewan government’s hopeful optimism might ring hollow considering it’s fast approaching the Christmas season when you find out your career is nearing a sudden end, one has to appreciate the “thinking of the little guy” mentality.
It’s a positive outlook and that’s why Wall has enjoyed the success he’s had in Saskatchewan. Coming from a smaller centrer and having worked with all kinds of people, he understands what’s important and what makes them tick.
The “let’s go for it and get these things done” policies are working and they’re enjoying the fruits of their labours. Tell people why it’s working instead of telling people why they can’t do something, such as rectifying the health centre problems in the bigger communities including Maple Creek and Shaunavon, is a step in the right direction.
Wall and Swift Current Mayor Jerrod Schafer do the little things right. They tweet, they do re-tweet requests, they stay out of trouble (cough, cough, hello Rob Ford, Stephen Harper, Alison Redford, cough cough), they talk to people like they are their neighbour instead of being someone of privilege.
Swift Current increases their debt load by nearly $15 million and there’s no uproar. Why? Schafer has the city in good shape. Construction is up in the city, there’s a new integrated facility being built, the city could be part of a potentially lucrative trade corridor —  Corridor for Competitiveness — and the City will be celebrating its centennial next year. No small pancake breakfast and a speech followed by a barbecue. This City is going all out. Celebrating the past and looking to the future with the help of a committee of Swift Current’s best minds.
Critcs may say they exude too much confidence or they tend to gloss over or ignore the negatives and focus on the positives. No, it’s not perfect, but it’s a heck of a lot better than when I remember it.
I remember years of stagnant NDP governments (and one really bad Grant Devine one) and Saskatchewan suffering from a lack of personality for years. It was a shame because Saskatchewan people are amongst the best people I know. Communities that care about citizens, about other communities. There’s nothing better.
Seeing The Sheepdogs sing a catchy song on a Sask. government commercial promoting the province (and not just tourism) on national TV, watching the premier send out a tweet poking fun at a rival CFL team, enjoying a Grey Cup win, engaging voters on social media — doesn’t sound like much, but it is refreshing and rings true with the average joe.
You never hear about Wall in the French Riveria eating caviar. He’s more likely to be coaching football on a field in Swift Current.
However, how Wall handles this latest issue with the potash workers will be a major test on his leadership and political skills and how he handles adversity.
It’s easy to be popular when things are going well, but when things go awry and not within your control, that’s when it’s really a test. Saskatchewan residents will be watching.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post. Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece by emailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor