Connect with us

Opinion

Sask NDP resurrect old, failed policies

The Saskatchewan NDP want to revive the old government-owned bus company, and other CCF-era socialist policies.

mm

Published

on

The Saskatchewan NDP wants to restore film tax credits and Saskatchewan Transportation Company, a taxpayer-subsidized crown bus company. Those ideas play well to artsy leftist voters, government unions, and a few others, but they’re bad for taxpayers.

The Regina Manifesto, penned in 1933 said, “No C.C.F. Government will rest content until it has eradicated capitalism and put into operation the full programme of socialized planning.” When Tommy Douglas and his Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation seized Saskatchewan, they formed numerous crown corporations, including STC.

Ridership peaked in the 1980’s, but before the decade was out, a long streak of annual financial losses was already underway. Saskatchewanians  got rich enough to own their own vehicles, just when the perks of unionized labour were really taking off.

While it is easy for governments to start programs, it is often harder to end them. So it was with STC. In the mid-2000’s, STC launched its first new route since 1976: an incredibly long journey to La Loche, many hours north of any other STC connection point. By then, only 3 of 29 passenger routes made money. But that didn’t prevent the province from building a $26.2 million terminal in Regina so opulent I called it the ‘crystal cathedral’ at the time. Soon, unions filed grievances that their drivers weren’t getting triple pay when their shifts ended on a stat holiday.

Only after Brad Wall began his third mandate and STC bleeding had become horrendous, did his government finally end the socialist CCF’s creation. STC had $14.9 million in revenue and $49.1 million in operating expenses in its final year of 2016-17. Sold-off assets included three 16-passenger vehicles and a 22-passenger vehicle that were never used.

The Saskatchewan Film Employment Tax Credit (SFETC) had a much shorter and less expensive run. At first, the tax credit paid up to 40 per cent of labour costs for any eligible project, but by the end it was 55 per cent. Although this prevented the government from cherry-picking winners and losers within the sector, it represented disproportionate help to the sector, one any economy-driving industry could have only dreamed of.

The government program also presented strange ironies. A few projects, such as CTV’s Corner Gas, were so successful that they needed no help from taxpayers. (They got $11 million anyway.) Others were losers for their objectional content or dismal viewership – or both. The Horror flick Tideland received $1.6 million from the SFETC in 2005—an amount eight times the US $197,659 it earned at the box office. 

This wasn’t the only way Saskatchewan taxpayers contributed to these productions. The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit covered up to 16 per cent of labour costs in those days, meaning the total subsidy reached 71 per cent in some cases.

But wait, there’s more. The Canadian Television Fund (CTF) also handed out funds. Half of the CTF money came from a CRTC-mandated surcharge on cable bills and the rest through federal tax dollars. The TV series Renegade Press received $3.2 million from the SFETC for its first four seasons and another $2 million from the CTF!

Economic spin-off benefits touted by the film and TV industry were mythical. In 2004, when the SFETC was ‘only’ 40 per cent, Saskatchewan’s NDP government commissioned an Economic Impact Statement for the Saskatchewan Film and Video Industry. It found that each job created by the SFETC cost the province $15,873. Even if indirect employment was included, the cost was still $8,095. The SFETC was a perennial money-loser, just like STC.

Worse, the province competed with others in a bidding war with other provinces and American states. Manitoba’s film employment tax credit grew to 65 per cent, and pressure was growing for Saskatchewan to match. Saskatchewan decided to follow Alberta’s lead and eliminated its $8 million tax credit in 2012. However, the government later launched Creative Saskatchewan to hand out grants, $2 million of which goes to film and TV production.

Saskatchewan, long-mired in a socialist experiment – should not go back. The Regina Manifesto said, “Only by such public ownership, operated on a planned economy, can our main industries be saved from the wasteful competition of the ruinous overdevelopment and over-capitalization which are the inevitable outcome of capitalism.” It was the philosophy that underpinned programs like the STC.

Saskatchewan has spent enough taxpayer dollars on productions people didn’t watch and busses that people didn’t ride. Neither the NDP, nor anyone else, should bring those days back.

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Correspondent for the Western Standard

Lee Harding is the Saskatchewan Political Columnist for the Western Standard. He is also a Research Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy and is the former Saskatchewan Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion

WAGNER: Central Canada’s decades-long attack on Alberta oil drives the need for independence

“Within Canada, Alberta’s economy will be smothered by anti-oil policies and general hostility to resource development. Outside of Canada, Alberta’s economy can flourish and supply much-needed energy to willing customers.”

mm

Published

on

A new book by Western Standard Senior Columnist Michael Wagner makes the case that Alberta must become independent. The following is a brief excerpt from No Other Option: Self-Determination for Alberta.

Alberta is rich in fossil fuels, which are essential components for advanced modern economies. With the energy crisis of the 1970s, Central Canada benefited enormously from Alberta’s abundance through government-imposed low oil prices and an export tax on oil. Subsequently, as Alberta’s oil was later allowed to reach world price levels, the federal government continued to reap large financial rewards at Alberta’s expense.

Now, many voters in Central Canada want Alberta’s fossil fuels to be locked in the ground, supposedly to prevent climate change. What this would mean for Albertans is crystal clear: poverty and a future without economic hope. In effect, Central Canada wants Alberta to return to its status of a have-not province, like it was before the discovery of oil at Leduc in 1947. To see the future that voters in Toronto and Montreal envision for Alberta, simply look back to the economic struggles the province experienced in its first few decades. It’s not a pretty picture.

But there is absolutely no reason why Albertans should accept this fate. Albertans have the opportunity to determine their own future, and they should do so. Through entirely peaceful, legal, and constitutional means, Albertans have the power to choose a future of self-determination and prosperity. That is, Alberta can become an independent country.

Seceding from Canada to form an independent country is certainly a drastic step. But there really is no other option. Serious proposals have been made in the past to reform Canada so the West could receive a greater voice in national institutions. These kinds of reforms – with the Triple-E (equal, elected, and effective) Senate being top of the list – have been rejected and are no longer viable. This means Albertans face a stark choice between the status quo, with its inevitable economic decline, or independence.

Many people in Alberta are very hesitant to embrace secession due to strong personal and emotional ties to Canada. This is reasonable and completely understandable. There is much laudable about Canada, including the freedom and prosperity it offers to its citizens. Canadians also have much to be proud of in their past, such as the courageous exploits of the Canadian military in the world wars, as well as other conflicts. Indeed, there is much to admire about Canada when it is compared to the other countries of the world.

Nevertheless, Canada has been going in a rather unhappy direction since the late 1960s. Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau had a vision for a different kind of country that he did much to accomplish. It’s not a coincidence that the first efforts to create a separatist organization in Alberta took place during Trudeau’s first term as prime minister. Today, Pierre’s son, Justin, pursues a different set of policies that harm Alberta’s future. 

There is a lesson to be drawn from these two periods of Trudeau administrations: If Albertans don’t choose a new direction for their province, they will forever be entangled in cyclical periods of hostile federal policies.

In short, Albertans must choose between the status quo and independence. Within Canada, Alberta’s economy will be smothered by anti-oil policies and general hostility to resource development. Outside Canada, Alberta’s economy can flourish and supply much-needed energy to willing customers. This latter option will lead to prosperity for Albertans and their children. The choice is clear.

You can order a copy of Michael Wagner’s new book, No Other Option: Self-Determination for Alberta on Amazon

Michael Wagner is a Senior Columnist for the Western Standard

Continue Reading

Opinion

SLOBODIAN: Docs who speak out about COVID facing brutal suppression

Whistleblowers say doctors who disobey are investigated and face having their medical licences revoked.

mm

Published

on

Doctors and nurses, the heroes who bravely stand between COVID-19 and Canadians, are being bullied, threatened and censored.

They’re warned: Challenge the COVID-19 narrative or reveal serious flaws in how the pandemic’s handled and pay a heavy price.

Whistleblowers say doctors who disobey are investigated and face having their medical licences revoked. 

Nurses fear being fired if they expose manipulated and inflated numbers or cases of vaccinated patients with COVID-19.

Physicians and a researcher spoke on behalf of many colleagues at a press conference on censorship of doctors, scientists and medical information held on Parliament Hill Thursday, hosted by Ontario MP Derek Sloan.

“Many people at high levels across the federal and provincial governments are misleading the public,” said Sloan.

He recently issued a call to medical and scientific whistleblowers. The response is shocking.

Medical professionals are viciously muzzled.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO) issued an April 30 statement warning doctors against going public with questioning the status quo or revealing what they witness in hospitals and clinics.

The College of Nurses of Ontario forbid nurses to talk about what they’ve experienced.

Dr. Byram Bridle, associate professor and viral immunologist in the Department of Pathobiology at the University of Guelph, dares to question vaccines. 

“I, along with a large number of collaborators both within Canada and internationally, have developed serious concerns about COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.

He’s under brutal attack.

“I’m undergoing a very public smear campaign right now,” said Welsh, adding he also receives hundreds of supportive emails from across Canada and the world.

“Since the pandemic was declared, I’ve been trying to serve as a voice of objective, scientific opinion so that the public can make the most informed decisions for themselves possible when it comes to issues related to COVID-19,” said Bridle.

“I’m a publicly-funded servant. You pay for me, Canadians, with your tax dollars.”

In an interview, he was asked if there’s a link between COVID-19 vaccines and cases of heart inflammation in young males. The connection was recently flagged in Israeli studies.

Bridle, a vaccinologist whose research program is based on development of novel vaccines, said it’s possible.

“After the interview, five minutes, it was like a nuclear bomb went off in my world. My life was thrown upside down. I’m sure my life will never be the same again,” he said. 

A fake Twitter account slanders him. Calls and email attacks continue daily.

He’s harassed by some work colleagues. Fortunately, the University of Guelph administration supports him.

Bridle wrote a comprehensive guide for parents to make informed decisions about vaccinating their children.

“I accept that early in the pandemic and when we first rolling out these vaccines we’ve had to largely work based on assumptions. The scientific literature has exploded over the last 16 months. We understand so much more. Now we’re looking at vaccinating children and it’s no longer OK to proceed based on assumptions,” he said.

Proper studies haven’t been conducted, he warned.

“Mass vaccination of millions of healthy Canadian children demands that the level of safety associated with this, the assessed safety profile has to be exceptionally high,” he said.

“By expressing this my career may very well have been destroyed. It’s incomprehensible to me that this has happened.

“I don’t recognize the country that I was born into.”

However, warnings like that issued by the CPSO backfire.

“Doctors, nurses, scientists and other medical experts have indeed reached out to me through various channels to tell me their stories.” said Sloan.

“These honest and hardworking doctors are fully galvanized against the regressive, authoritarian overreach of the CPSO and other similar governing bodies.

“The purpose of governing bodies like the CPSO is to protect the public, not to stifle legitimate scientific inquiry or dissent by professional doctors.”

Dr. Patrick Phillips, an Ontario family and emergency physician went public after seeing his patients suffering “massive harms” from lockdowns, including those with advanced cancer walking into emergency.

“I’ve never seen so many suicidal children,” said Phillips.

The letter from the CPSO is “chilling,” he said.

“It basically saying it’s the professional responsibility of all physicians not to communicate anti-vaccine, anti-masking, anti-distancing, and anti-lockdown statements and/or promoting unsupported, unproven treatments for COVID-19,” he said.

He’s one of many physicians under investigation, facing his medical licence being revoked for promoting treatments like Vitamin D and Ivermectin, both proven to work in numerous trials.

“There’s something bigger than my medical career at this point because lives are being lost and we need to speak out.”

Dr. Don Welsh, a PhD and professor of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Western Ontario, laments physicians under attack.

“This behaviour’s unacceptable in Canada,” he said emotionally.

“We have been told by the public health community to follow the science. I want to be clear – science hasn’t been functioning properly the last 13 months as we address COVID-19.”

Welsh called for “full and robust Royal Commission to publicly address the many flaws that underlie this public response” to COVID-19.

Canadians also need to know who tells tyrants to issue shut-up decrees. 

Where’s Dr. Theresa Tam? Silent.

Odd, you’d think Canada’s chief public health officer would leap to the defense of besieged medical professionals.

Slobodian is a Manitoba based columnist for the Western Standard

Continue Reading

Opinion

FROM: Property rights advocates should think twice about an Alberta constitution

“While there is merit to enshrining property rights in a potential new Alberta constitution, there are cautions that Albertans should consider first.”

mm

Published

on

Canada is nearly alone in the world as a liberal democracy having a written constitution lacking any explicit protection for property rights.  Albertans- many of whom are weary of confederation – have often bandied about the idea of a provincial constitution protecting property rights. While there is merit to enshrining property rights in a potential new Alberta constitution, there are cautions that Albertans should consider first.

Property rights are already protected by the common law. For example, in 1978, the Supreme Court of Canada said, “Anglo-Canadian jurisprudence has traditionally recognized, as a fundamental freedom, the right of the individual to the enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof, or any interest therein, save by due process of law.”

But the common law lacks the power of entrenched constitutional protection because any Canadian legislature could modify it by ordinary statute.

In 1978, Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s government introduced Bill C-60, the Constitutional Amendment Act, in parliament.  The bill contained a guarantee of, “the right of the individual to the use and enjoyment of property, and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with law.”

This may be a verboten topic in the West, but Trudeau (The First) even tried to have property rights included in the Charter in 1982. This was opposed — no surprise — by the NDP, special interest groups and others. The Liberal government eventually gave up trying.

But maybe that was a good thing. Constitutionally entrenching property rights has long been the goal of many on the political right, but is it the panacea many assume?

The Americans have explicit protection for property in their constitution’s Bill of Rights, and they have the advantage of a rich intellectual tradition acknowledging the moral and instrumental value of property rights. Nevertheless, their courts have whittled it away, piece by piece, until property rights have become wrought with caveats and exemptions borne of a similar rights balancing approach upon which our courts rely.

There is also a question regarding how effectively a province could protect property rights on its own. If Alberta were to entrench its own protection for property rights, it would apply only to the provincial government and municipalities. It would not prevent the federal government – which would not be bound by Alberta’s constitution – from continuing to violate our property rights. 

A perfect example of this was demonstrated earlier this year when the Supreme Court of Canada upheld the federal carbon tax legislation, which greatly interferes with the property rights of Albertans. Unless something entirely unforeseen changes, Albertans will be forever powerless to stop this sort of federal violation of property rights. Entrenching property rights in an Alberta constitution will have no bearing on any federal violations.   

And lastly, the term “property rights” means something very specific to its advocates, but not to everyone. It’s a vague and uncertain term. Generally, advocates mean legal authority to possess, control, exclude and transfer an interest in something tangible, like land or chattels.  But there are others who believe property rights should include socio-economic rights to education, healthcare, pensions and other benefits. This is a debate Albertans have never thoroughly had, and thankfully our courts have shown reluctance to adopt socio-economic rights without that debate.

And lastly, if Alberta did entrench property rights, are we naive enough to believe all currently existing legislation would not be immediately grandfathered? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there is a very good chance that nothing would change.

In my view, property is both a moral and legal concept foundational to the success of all free and prosperous societies. Governments should be greatly circumscribed in their authority to take or devalue property. But this is a complicated topic, and property rights should not be entrenched on a whim.

Derek From is Columnist for the Western Standard and an associate lawyer with WKA Lawyers

Continue Reading

Recent Posts

Recent Comments

Share

Petition: No Media Bailouts

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

49 signatures

No Media Bailouts

The fourth estate is critical to a functioning democracy in holding the government to account. An objective media can't maintain editorial integrity when it accepts money from a government we expect it to be critical of.

We the undersigned call on the Canadian government to immediately cease all payouts to media companies.

**your signature**



The Western Standard will never accept government bailout money. By becoming a Western Standard member, you are supporting government bailout-free and proudly western media that is on your side. With your support, we can give Westerners a voice that doesn\'t need taxpayers money.

Share this with your friends:

Trending

Copyright © Western Standard New Media Corp.