HUMBOLDT, Sask. - Since 1929, the province of Saskatchewan has been in decline.That's when the Prairie province's population peaked and the province has been dealt one challenge after another ever sin...
HUMBOLDT, Sask. – Since 1929, the province of Saskatchewan has been in decline.
That’s when the Prairie province’s population peaked and the province has been dealt one challenge after another ever since then. But renowned journalist and business specialist, Paul Martin, says it doesn’t have to be that way.
And following in the footsteps of Saskatchewan-based trailer manufacturer, Doepker Industries, is one way to help dig the province out of the depths of Canadian despondency.
That was Martin’s message at Doepker’s 30th anniversary celebrations, where the company officially unveiled a new trailer and new digs in the small city of Humboldt.
“Doepker, to me, is a bit of a microcosm of what Saskatchewan could be,” says Martin.
His presentation, laced with anecdotes and humor, outlined what Saskatchewan has become in recent years, and what it has the potential to become. He painted two drastically different pictures of the province, and urged citizens to help better the province.
The key, he says is to overcome the fear of success that seems inherent to Canadians, especially those from the ‘Land of living skies.’
“Have you noticed, we in the province sometimes don’t like success?” he asks.
To illustrate his point he points out that, “In an era of trade globalization and liberalization, Canada in the last 10 years, since NAFTA, has been number one in the world, yet how many people have you heard say ‘No more trade, put barriers around us, put boundaries around us, protect us?'” asks Martin. “Protect us from who? Our customers, I guess!”
He urged the audience to take a look at the report compiled by the provincial Chamber of Commerce, called Action Saskatchewan Version 2.0, which is available online at www.actionsask.com.
“We did an analysis and we did a comparison between every province in the country on the basis of revenue per acre,” says Martin, noting that Saskatchewan is home to the most farmland in the country. “You know who’s number one in Canada? Newfoundland. That heartland of agricultural productivity, Newfoundland.”
He says that even Ontario puts Saskatchewan to shame when it comes to productivity.
“We have half the land in Canada and we produce 15 per cent of the value of Canadian agriculture. Ontario by contrast, produces 27 per cent of the value of Canadian agriculture and they’ve only got 10 per cent of the land,” he blasts.
“It’s all about growth,” says Martin. “We have a disproportionately small private sector.”
He applauds Doepker for continuing to expand in the province, and says they are an example that other businesses should follow.
“I just hope that (the Doepkers) become the model that hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of us emulate and follow.”
He urges companies to ask themselves three questions before making any major business decisions.
“Will this decision result in a bigger private sector? Will this decision result in a bigger population? Will this decision result in a bigger economy?” he says. “If the answer is ‘yes’ to any or all of them, go ahead. If the answer is ‘no’, maybe you want to step back and take a look at it.”
But whether it be the struggling farmer who tends to several thousands of acres of wheat, or an owner/operator considering expanding his fleet, Martin insists the opportunities are endless in Saskatchewan.
“We sit here poised on the edge of an opportunity that is unsurpassed anywhere in North America,” he concludes. n