Public not involved in power plant decision?

March 25, 2016

In the following article, I interviewed Allan Engel who was a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Saskatchewan for many, many years on the NDP ticket.

After my boss ,at the Gravelbourg Gazette, took off in the dark on night to dodge the bills that he could not pay, I headed back to Winnipeg. I did this even though my boss had told me that I was a journalist with the skills to get a job in the bigger daily newspapers.

One day, I dropped to lunch at a café near the Manitoba Legislative Buildings in Winnipeg and who should I run in to there but Allan Engel and his partner. He spoke glowingly of my skills as a writer and encouraged me to continue.

I had left a ‘small pond’ in southern Saskatchewan to go back home which was a ‘bigger pond’ in Winnipeg. I was not feeling confident to go out and land a journalism job. But I also did not like the highly competitive side of journalism, especially in the larger papers and the stress and sometimes downright hostility towards women getting into the field.

I am convinced that if I had gone the journalism route fulltime in my life, I never would have moved to Salt Spring Island, learned to be a reiki master and most of all never would have become a fulltime psychic reader specializing in tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channelling and sometimes being a medium and a Russian gypsy card reader. These things are the opposite of being a journalist in the mainstream.

The adventures that I have every day as I travel, house sit and do my psychic readings are things I am TOTALLY glad to have not missed out on. I doubt if I ever would have because I believe doing psychic readings is following my destiny. God(dess) lined this all up for me and living with such a strong connection to the Spiritual Realm is ENTIRELY the right thing for me to be doing.

Yet I thank Allan Engel for giving me a confidence boost on the day long ago in Winnipeg. This is exactly the type of NDP politician that I like very much. (There is the other kind that seems to smile rarely, including Ed Broadbent and Tom Mulcair, who makes one feel that somehow you have to measure up to their standards.) No wonder Allan Engel had such a long, successful career in politics.

Here is the article in which I interviewed him:

Borderland Reporter

December 2, 1982

Public not involved in power plant decision?

by Tanya Lester

Allan Engel, MLA for Assiniboia-Gravelbourg, says the Conservative government seems to be studying plans for the location of a power plant without seeking public opinion.

Mr. Engel, an NDP member, believes the government will “keep things under the table and they’ll make an announcement without public input.” He has heard that the provincial government has done a study in relation to the Killdeer railway line and its connection with the proposed site of a power plant near Gravelbourg. However Mr. Engel said he has been unable to obtain access to the study to date.

But Mr. Engel did not that at the recent hearings of the CPR application to close the railway line between Rockglen and Killdeer, the ruling was in favor of keeping the line open. This line would be used to haul coal to Gravelbourg if a power plant is located near the town.

Mr. Engel said it is “interesting” that this line will be maintained while a positive ruling had not been made concerning the fate of the Coronach — Big Beaver line. Hearings on the CPR applications to close both lines were hled on November 23 and 24.

When asked about criticism concerning the latest NDP government being too bureaucratic, Mr. Engel used the  example of his presentation at the rail line hearings in comparison with the Conservative government’s brief. “If we had to depend on the government to save the railway (to Killdeer) we never would have done it,” Mr. Engel said.

Mr. Engel said because the government has fired so many civil servants, there are few left with experience to help the Conservatives in department policy matters. Despite the fact that the government has many paid researchers, Mr. Engel was able to present a more comprehensive brief to the hearings, in his opinion, based on the research of a volunteer.

Mr. Engel, who is NDP agricultural critic in the legislature, predicted the budge presented by Finance Minister Bob Andrew would create “chaos in agriculture”` Having dissolved the Land Bank program, the government has proposed to make money available to help young farmers with mortgage rates.

But Mr. Engel indicated for a young farmer to buy land instead of renting its is unrealistic. He said, for example, a three quarter section of land at $350,000 would mean an interest rate of $28,000 alone each year. Land in this area sells for much higher than this rate, Mr. Engel added. As a result, this mortgage break will be used only by those who can already afford to buy land.

In Farm Start, a program established by the NDP to help the young farmers buy equipment and livestock, the budget has been “chopped back” by $1.5 million, Mr. Engel said.

Although there has been a $4 million increase allocated in the budget for drought assistance,  Mr. Engel seriously doubts if this money will be needed over the year. “The sub-moisture is as good as ever,” Mr. Engel said. “My crop has been good this year.” Mr. Engel feels this money was put towards drought assistance so it would not seem that the government had decreased its budget in agricultural areas.

Mr. Engel said a common need of constituents in Assiniboia – Gravelbourge is more nursing homes. Many have difficulty finding spaces in the existing nursing homes for their senior relatives. With the Conservative cutback in construction, and increase in nursing homes will not come about and any private nursing homes will charge higher fees to residents. Mr. Engel said he will have to start approaching church groups and other organizations to start raising money for building more nursing homes in the area.

The money lost to construction will also hinder the building of schools and hospitals as well as nursing homes. Mr. Engel said for every $1 spent on construction, that dollar will “turn six times” because, for example, lumber has to be bought for the construction and employment would be created.

The $35 million in the budget which is going towards welfare payments for people who are able to work, “the unemployed employables”, could be used to employ these people in the construction industry.

Another complaint from constituents, Mr. Engel said, is the poor shoulder repair job on highway 13. He said with the government cut on gas tax, the result will be worse roads.

Mr. Engel said the elimination of the gas tax will mean a saving of $200 per year to the average driver. However, the $220 million deficit in the budget will eliminate those savings. “It’s going to cost that much on interest of the debt,” Mr. Engel said.

The deficit means that each average family of four works out to being $1000 in debt with the new budget, Mr. Engel said. All of the prior budgets in the province’s history only worked out to a $16 million dollar deficit, compared to the $220 million deficit in this single budget, Mr. Engel said.

The oil companies, who do not need financial aid from the government, did benefit from the budget, he said. They will receive a $25 million tax bonus thsis year.

Since Mr. Engle was first elected MLA in 1971, this is the first time he has sat on the opposition side of the Legislature. He said it is interesting, but involves more work. The seven NDP members have only one paid researcher. It also means more speaking engagements for himself because Mr. Engel is now agricultural critic. In this area, he is responsible for all of Saskatchewan and not only the Assiniboia- Gravelbourg constituency.n

“I think six months is enough,” Mr. Engel joked about being in the opposition. “Maybe we should have an election now.” He said he held on to his seat because he is a good constituency worker, but recognizes another factor in her success was the three way voting split between the candidates. Liberal candidate Ralph Goodale got 30 percent of the vote, and this was the only riding in the province where the Conservation candidate placed third.

— END–

To read other posts in this blog, go to and

Tanya’s books are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader (can be purchased from the author or by going to, Women Rights/Writes, Dreams and Tricksters, and Friends I Never Knew. These books can be found in some library systems and the last three are in the Legislative Library of Manitoba.

Tanya is an  intuitive counsellor (tea leaf reading, tarot, psychic channel, mediumship and Russian Gypsy card) and a house sitter. To use her services, find out more at web:  or on pages including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter or Google or contact her directly at or call 250-538-0086







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