Saskatchewan: heartless to the homeless

What Just Happened? | Stephen Whitworth

A naughty otter made headlines in July for stealing surfboards off the coast of California. Apparently he’s been texting with the yacht-sinking orcas? Here’s the rest of the month’s news.


Scott Moe’s Saskatchewan Party government settled a lawsuit today over the cancelled construction of a 77,000 square foot building in Wascana Park. The project was suspended after Saskatchewan’s provincial auditor ordered a review of the project after criticisms the public hadn’t been properly informed or consulted.

Brandt’s building would have provided 4,000 sq. feet (out of the aforementioned 77,000, or roughly five per cent) to the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. The CNIB had a (now-demolished) building on the site with a unique 99-year lease in the park which in the past has restricted commercial development.

Brandt reportedly planned to lease roughly 95 per cent of the space in this non-commercial park-based, four-storey office tower at market rates.


Various media reported Taylor Swift’s two Seattle concerts created enough seismic activity to be detected by equipment designed to record earthquakes. The events — which happened during Swift’s performance of “Shake It Off” — were equal to a 2.3 magnitude earthquake.


In just totally spiffy, “no-need-to-run-screaming-into-the-streets news, the ocean off Florida’s southern coast passed 100 degrees Fahrenheit today. Earlier in the month when it was still way too hot but not yet totally absurd, an expert quoted in the Washington Post called the then-97 degree temperatures “bona fide bathtub conditions”.

The scorching temps capped a month of record heat in Florida — a state governed by a far-right, climate-change-denying extremist and Republican presidential hopeful who regularly picks fights with teachers, universities, women, the LGBTQ community and Walt Disney World. Anyhoo, the hot temperatures could decimate the State’s ocean wildlife, kill coral reefs and make hurricanes worse but you do you, Florida.


The feisty Irish singer who became accidentally famous with her cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” died today at the age of 56. O’Connor stood with victims and the vulnerable, often spitting in the face of a music industry only interested in whatever riches it could harvest from her talent. There were few like her, and though her life was sometimes a struggle she lived with honour. May she rest in the peace she’s earned.


 To the surprise of no one who’s been paying attention, July 2023 will go down as the hottest month in recorded history and likely the planet’s warmest in over 100,000 years. “We don’t have to wait for the end of the month to know this. Short of a mini-Ice Age over the next days, July 2023 will shatter records across the board,” said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who proclaimed this to be the era of “global boiling”. “Climate change is here. It is terrifying. And it is just the beginning,” he said.


The spotlight shone brightly on Saskatchewan’s poverty crisis today as police and firefighters forcibly shut down a homeless encampment at Regina City Hall. Eleven people were arrested during the action, which brought an end to a 43-day community of people with nowhere else to go. Although apparently a number of camp residents were shipped to Balgonie, Saskatchewan, where their existence will presumably be less offensive to the sensitive eyes of some Regina politicians including, the WJH Desk speculates, the city’s increasingly controversial mayor Sandra Masters. While the City That Rhymes With “Blame The Unnamed Junior Staffer” will totally wear the cruel and incompetent ending to the camp, we shouldn’t forget that the Province is ultimately responsible for Saskatchewan’s untenable poverty situation. In fact, earlier this year at a Saskatchewan Association of Urban Municipalities event, Saskatoon City Councillor David Kirton accused the province of “manufacturing homelessness” through its inadequate social support programs. Pretty much!


 The What Just Happens Desk is shattered by the death of actor Paul Reubens, who became famous for his beloved alter-ego Pee-wee Herman. Pee-wee’s odd, gentle-yet-outrageous personality and irrepressible enthusiasm taught (and continues to teach) generations of kids about the possibility of life other the binary of rough masculinity and submissive femininity. Reubens helped make the world a better, kinder and weirder place. He will be missed.


Hey!Saskatchewan’s power utility reported it lost $172 million in 2022. The crown corporations’ annual report was released Friday. Because Scott Moe’s Saskatchewan Party government didn’t give reporters technical briefings (as governments have always done), it was unclear whether the missing millions rolled under the seat of a truck or were accidentally tossed into a recycling bin. Regardless, the Opposition NDP slammed the loss, with leader Carla Beck saying, “People shouldn’t pay for the Sask. Party’s colossal mismanagement of our Crowns. We’re talking about the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars that could keep costs for working families lower. Instead, we’re paying for their mistakes.”

Saskatchewan voters in three ridings can express their feelings about all this at by-election ballot boxes Aug. 3–10, excluding Aug. 7 and Aug. 9.