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JP Samson stole the show at the 24th annual Red Holder Memorial Speech Competition and Banquet
(Photo by Cam Hutchinson)
Young speaker, entertainer steals the show

For a few days last week, I couldn’t stop singing Build Me Up Buttercup.
I should say I mouthed the words just like I did in choirs back at Haultain School in the 1960s. Have you ever noticed how many people say they were asked not to sing? Who the heck was singing those Christmas carols then?
The reason for me silently singing Build Me Up Buttercup was because of the great rendition JP Samson did at the 24th annual Red Holder Memorial Speech Competition and Banquet.
JP was one of eight elementary school students who gave speeches at the event. Let me tell you, we have some talented young people in our midst.
I was fortunate enough to join Terry Ross and Don Hazelwanter on the judging panel. It was my second time having that honour. It’s a wonderful event, with great food and conversation. But ultimately, the event is about the students who have earned the right to represent their schools.


Saskatoon police engaged in sanctuary city conversations

There may be one thing Donald Trump and I agree on. (I know, I didn’t think it would happen either.) The issue around sanctuary cities in the United States is yuuuge.
If you go to the Washington Post or the New York Times, their explanations of what a sanctuary city is – or county, or state – are detailed, illustrated by complex graphics and absolutely fascinating. The sanctuaries themselves, POTUS and the mainstream media are all over this.
Indeed, there are 36 American cities including Chicago, New York City and San Francisco, five states (California, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut) and 633 counties that declare themselves as sanctuaries, to varying degrees.
This means two notable things. One, these cities allow undocumented migrants to access city services, and don’t blow the whistle on them should their identification, or lack thereof, not be up to snuff.

Randy Fernets always an advocate for tourist attractions

It’s easy selling Saskatoon.
Randy Fernets says those representing Tourism Saskatoon can look people in the eye when making a pitch to bring conventions and events to our city.
“When our convention team is out there, we try to sell the quality of life, what you can do in Saskatoon – Meewasin, the university, the craft liquor scene,” said Fernets, who retired this month after 14 years as the director of industry development and sports tourism with the organization.
“We say we have the friendliest people and we do have a different atmosphere. We are a little more laid back and we have the assets.”
But we knew that.
The city has come a long way over the years, with new events popping up on an annual basis.

Budget deficit shouldn’t be a surprise

Why is anyone shocked about the provincial government’s looming budget deficit?
And if the concern is about an increasing deficit/debt, why isn’t anyone concerned about the ballooning federal debt? At least the province’s financial woe is because of declining revenues, whereas the growing federal debt is because of increased spending.
Be it good times or bad, we are a commodity-based province, and the commodity market is a volatile one. The brightest and best investors in this unpredictable market can only watch the global economy and take their best guess as to the outcome.
It is not a market for the faint of heart. From the government’s perspective, the snowball started with the decline in potash prices, then oil and it just kept rolling. You would have to have been living on Gilligan’s Island over the last couple of years if you didn’t see this coming.

I can still hear sled dogs running by the light of the moon

I could hear eight dogs running two by two and a row of four pulling a sleigh.
I could hear them panting, hear the skids of the sleigh as it breezes above the snow. Every now and then, I could hear my dad giving orders to the dogs.
I couldn’t understand his “dog language,” but the dogs certainly did. For each order — turn to the left, turn to the right or stop — my dad made a different sound that only the dogs seemed to understand.
I was only a boy, maybe six years old, but I can clearly remember being wrapped and secured to the sleigh as we made our way through the bush. I was so secured inside the sleigh it felt like I was tied up. It was dark, with only the light of the moon guiding us. I was laid flat on my back on the sleigh; all I could see were the spruce trees to my sides and the stars above.
I could feel the warmth of the blankets wrapped around me. It almost felt like being cuddled in a loving mother’s arms. The dogs with their steady speed kept me from falling asleep.


A love of the land:
Downtown gallery features local landscape artists

Saskatchewan may not have the Rockies or ocean views, but the province’s landscape is still interesting and beautiful.
That’s the sentiment viewers may come away with after visiting the current exhibition on display at The Gallery/art placement inc. The commercial fine art gallery, located in the city’s downtown, is featuring the work of three well-known landscape painters from Saskatoon: Clint Hunker, Lorna Russell and Reta Cowley (1910-2004). Although the artists’ styles vary, as do the colours and the seasons seen in their work, there are also commonalities — including a sense of respect and admiration for the Prairie environment.
“One of the unifying aspects is working from the land that all three artists have engaged, in different sites in and around Saskatoon and area,” said gallery manager Linda Stark, who noted the artists’ work fits well together in the same exhibition.


Hockey bureaucrats let referees down

I’m struggling to find the right words to use to tell you how absolutely appalled I was last week when both the Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA) and Hockey Canada (HC) basically endorsed the behaviour of out-of-control hockey parents. 
This topic is no stranger to this space. I’ve more or less quit going to my 12-year-old son’s minor hockey games, because I don’t want to be with some hockey parents. This doesn’t apply to the parents watching the game respectfully, or the parents who exuberantly cheer on and encourage their children’s on-ice successes – and misses. 
I’ve quit going to minor hockey games because of the parents who act like absolute barbarians. They scream instructions at their kid at the top of their lungs: “SKAAAAATE!!”