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Warm Welcome and Pie

by Dave Yanko

A warm welcome to everybody and thanks for dropping by our little corner of the interweb.

I had an interesting chat recently with a Saskatchewan businessperson who produces a high-end product for the international market. His is an endeavour in which integrity counts for everything and shoddy operators are quickly brought to task through social media. I asked him whether he thought being a Saskatchewan guy had anything to do with his clearly conscientious approach to business and he told me something refreshingly sour: “There’s a lot of dishonest people in Saskatchewan.’’

How delightfully non parochial. It was an off-the-cuff remark, almost an aside. But it seemed to grow in significance over the hours and days after I heard it. I’m trying to figure out why, so I’m writing about it.

We’re good people here in Saskatchewan. It seems to me our farming heritage and the tough times it occasionally augured generated a people that may seem a little pessimistic on the outside, but who are eternally optimistic inside. Because what else could farmers be? But we’ve grown and diversified since those days. The “new’’ Saskatchewan features a lot of the good and bad that exists elsewhere in more mature constituencies. No longer should we feel obliged to maintain some romanticized vision of Saskatchewan. The Rougriders won the Grey Cup last season (and we’re proud as hell about it); the price of farmland is skyrocketing, we’re a leader in economic growth; and those who follow the news will know a Saskatchewan father and daughter are doing hard time for ripping off local investors for $17 million. This ain’t your grandparent’s Saskatchewan. And maybe we need a bit of a perspective adjustment to accommodate this new reality. Saskatchewan has lots of wonderful people. Some aren’t.

All that said, could there be a more quintessentially “Saskatchewan boy,’’ a guy who embodies our assumed twin mantle of humility and honesty, than Brent Butt? I’ve interviewed him a couple of times and he seems every bit as swell a guy on the phone as he is in Corner Gas. I’m not a re-run kind of guy but I still tune in to the syndicated TV show a couple of times a month just to get my hit of that great writing and acting.

And so I was delighted to hear Corner Gas, the movie, is in the works. I was happy, as well, to hear the province will be chipping in a couple million dollars. Although, I'm not alone in suspecting that’s largely because the provincial government would have been embarrassed to see this Saskatchewan-based movie shot in Manitoba or some other jurisdiction that still has a formal program in place to attract movie makers and stimulate the associated creative crafts. Alas. . . .

Wanna see something really cool? Check out this video sent in by VS visitor Ben Parry. It's Greenwater Lake Provincial Park from the air, taken using Ben's drone, and what a great bird's eye view it offers. Give Ben a thumbs-up on the YouTube page!

Two additional quick notes: Saskatchewan provincial parks’ online campsite reservation system seems to be working properly after more than 1,500 people were overcharged on their credit cards in March. Saskatchewan Parks Minister Kevin Doherty is quoted in the media as saying he’s working with online booking contractor Camis to make sure such problems don’t happen again. That’s good news. What I’d like to know now is how the system can be protected against technological savvy folks who, it is said, know how to jump the cue or otherwise ensure their request for certain campsites are the ones the system accepts. Maybe we need a campsite lottery?

Lastly, the Saskatchewan Roughrider's new stadium is going to be beautiful. Sure, it could have used a roof, but the cost was too high. So long as those fancy roof structures block the cold winds of October and November – without ending up in Balgonie – I’m happy with the new facility. Go Riders!

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