fbpx
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

Opinion

Poll shows Tories led the pack into Monday Senate election, but PPC support doubles from September

42% said that they plan to vote for the Tory slate, 18% for the PPC slate, 24% for independent candidates, and 17% for a combination of candidates across parties and independents.

mm

Published

on

A Mainstreet Research poll conducted exclusively for the Western Standard shows the three Conservative Party of Canada candidates for Alberta Senate nominee are on track to win Monday’s election, but the PPC vote share set to double its Alberta results from the September federal election.

Among decided respondents to the poll who said that they intended to vote, 42% said that they plan to vote for the Tory slate, 18% for the PPC slate, 24% for independent candidates, and 17% for a combination of candidates across parties and independents.

Albertans can vote for three candidates on their Senate nominee ballot across all parties. Of Albertans surveyed in the poll, 67% said that they intended to vote.

Source: Mainstreet Research, Western Standard

Including undecided voters however, the Tory lead is less daunting. Fully 28% of respondents indicated that they didn’t know how they would vote.

Mainstreet President and CEO Quito Maggi said while he “expects a slate of Conservatives to be elected”, he “was surprised at the number of people who were going to select a mix.”

The poll was conducted between October 12-13, 2021, among a sample of 935 adults with automated telephone interviews using both landlines and cellphones. The results are weighted for demographic and geographic balance and contains a margin of error of plus-or-minus 3.2% at a 95% confidence level.

In addition to the full CPC and PPC slates, seven independents are on the ballot, some with ties to leftist parties.

The Liberals and NDP have not traditionally contested Senate elections, however the Liberals did run a candidate in Alberta’s first race for the upper chamber in 1989, which was won by the Reform Party’s Stan Waters.

Until 2021, all previous Senate votes were held between provincial parties, however the Alberta UCP government changed this practice in recent legislation, making it a federal contest.

Stan Water’s win in 1989 was actually fought under the banner of the “Reform Party of Alberta”, which was registered for the sole purpose of allowing the Reformers to contest the race against the Progressive Conservatives.

The change from provincial to federal parties for the Senate election excluded the Wildrose Independence Party and Alberta Party from the ability to run candidates.

The change is likely to buoy Tories fortunes, with the federal Conservatives vastly ahead of the Alberta UCP in all opinion polls.

The winners of the Senate election are unlikely to take their seats in the red chamber anytime soon however, as Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has indicated that he will continue fill vacancies with his own handpicked appointments to sit as largely unofficial liberal independents.

Federal Senate voter intention falls largely along provincial party allegiances with some notable exceptions.

Among provincial UCP supporters, 75% intend to vote for the federal Tories, 7% for the PPC, 3% for independents, and 4% for a combination of candidates.

Among Alberta NDP supporters, 5% plan to vote for the Tory slate, 2% for the PPC, 34% for independents, and 16% for a combination, with a huge 44% undecided.

Without a federal cousin party, 43% of Wildrose voters plan to vote for the PPC slate, 20% for the Tories, 6% for independents, and 12% for a combination. A relatively high proportion of 19% are still undecided.

The Tory slate is strongest in Calgary (33%) and in the rural north (36%), and weakest in Edmonton (20%) and the rural south (32%).

The PPC slate was strongest in the rural north (20%), rural south and Edmonton (both 15%), and weakest in Calgary (7%).

There are two Alberta vaccancies in the Senate.

Hoping to fill those positions are the Conservative Party of Canada’s Erika Barootes, Pam Davidson, and Mykhailo Martyniouk, and the People’s Party of Canada’s Kelly Lorencz, Nadine Wellwood, and Anne McCormack.

Independents on the ballot are Rick Bonnett, Doug Horner, Duncan Kinney, Jeff Nielsen, Karina Pillay, Chad Jett, and Sunil Sookram.

Continue Reading

Opinion

EDITORIAL: On Monday, vote ‘Yes’ to end equalization

“A big ‘yes’ vote to kill equalization will not end those payments overnight, and frankly, they are unlikely to yield any reform whatsoever without a clear “or else” option for Ottawa and Quebec to ponder; but without it, we are endorsing the status quo of an exploitative federal system that is unworthy of Canada’s history.”

mm

Published

on

Jointly written by the Editorial Board of the Western Standard

Albertans are a generous and patriotic people, but the exploitive nature of Canada’s fiscal federalism is turning many away from an unquestioning salute of the maple leaf. 

Since Canada’s centennial year in 1967, Alberta has contributed a net $600 billion more to the rest of Canada than it has received back in transfers and spending, despite our relatively small size.

Albertans make a net contribution of $15-27 billion in an average year, over $3 billion of which goes toward the $20 billion equalization program. Albertans pay another$3 billion (net) in the Canada Health Transfer and Canada Social Transfer more than is returned back to the province. 

All in, the average family of four in Alberta pays $20,000 a year in extra taxes that are sent directly to Quebec and other recipient provinces, after being laundered in Ottawa.

Many Albertans may not have minded this kind of charity in good times, but in tough times, Canada has not been there for Alberta beyond token trinkets. When Alberta needs to build pipelines to tidewater in order to keep producing the wealth that gets sent to others, many of those others stand in the way. 

Quebec – which receives more than $12 billion a year – has rejected the construction of pipelines that would transport what its premier calls “dirty oil” across her territory. The federal government – which is supposed to be the guarantor of the free movement of goods, services, and capital across all of Canada – has barely lifted a finger. In fact, the Liberal, Conservative, NDP, and Bloc Quebecois leaders have all promised voters in Quebec that no pipeline would be constructed there without their support. 

And what constitutes support? In British Columbia, the clear majority of people support pipeline construction, but governments have kowtowed to a vocal, radical minority. 

This is because Alberta simply doesn’t matter politically. Our economy is big enough to pay the bills, but our population is too small to decide elections. 

Alberta is underrepresented in the House of Commons and wildly discriminated against in the Senate, where we hold almost half the seats of tiny New Brunswick, but have twice the population of all four Atlantic provinces combined. When we try to elect our own senators, the federal government more often-than-not ignores the democratic will of Albertans. 

It’s time to fight back. The first big step in this is voting ‘yes’ to remove equalization from the Canadian constitution on October 18. To be clear, this will not actually result in the removal of equalization from the constitution on October 19. What it will do, however, is trigger a constitutional obligation on the part of the federal and other provincial governments to negotiate the issue, as the Supreme Court ruled in the Quebec Secession Reference case of 1998. 

In that case, the court ruled that if a clear majority of Quebecers voted ‘yes’ on a clear question of independence, then the rest of Canada would be constitutionally obliged to negotiate in good faith. Unspoken however, was the threat that in the event that the rest of Canada did not negotiate in good faith, that Quebec could make a unilateral declaration of independence; something that could only be circumvented by a military invasion of the province and the forceful deposition of its government; a prospect laughable in its improbability.

Alberta is not voting on independence however. It is voting on removing a confiscatory policy principle from the constitution. But what unspoken threat does Alberta have if the rest of Canada fails to negotiate in good faith? As yet, there is none. The Alberta government has pre-emptively taken more dramatic options off the table. This is a mistake. 

There are several organizations across Alberta that have done excellent work making the case for abolition, reform, and alternatives, including Fairness Alberta, the Alberta Institute, Project Confederation, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, FightEqualization.ca, and others. 

Missing in the campaign was Alberta Premier Jason Kenney. He has wisely decided to keep a low profile, knowing that his unpopularity could jeopardize a successful ‘yes’ vote. While some Albertans may wish to send the premier a message by voting ‘no’ to what they perceive as his pet project, this would be a grievous error. It would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. 

The project of an equalization referendum goes back well before Kenney even considered going into provincial politics, to a report from the old Wildrose Party’s Equalization Fairness Panel in 2016. 

There are positive signs that Albertans are putting the fight for a fair deal above partisan politics. A Mainstreet Research poll conducted for the Western Standard found that a 66% majority of Albertans intend to vote ‘yes’ on October 18. That poll saw that a majority in every region of Alberta – Edmonton, Calgary, rural north, and rural south – all intend to cast a ballot for change to the status quo. And while a majority of NDP voters intend to vote for the status quo, a sizeable minority of them intend to break ranks and vote with the rest of Alberta. 

A big ‘yes’ vote to kill equalization will not end those payments overnight, and frankly, they are unlikely to yield any reform whatsoever without a clear “or else” option for Ottawa and Quebec to ponder; but without it, we are endorsing the status quo of an exploitative federal system that is unworthy of Canada’s history. 

On October 18, we encourage Albertans to send Ottawa a message. On October 19, we encourage Albertans to make sure that our provincial government doesn’t let Ottawa forget it. 

Jointly written by the Editorial Board of the Western Standard

Continue Reading

Opinion

MORGAN: We can no longer trust the government’s COVID death statistics

“After the Alberta government lied about the cause of death of young Nathaneal Spitzer, we have good reason not to trust what they are telling us.”

mm

Published

on

When it was announced a 14-year-old boy had succumbed to COVID-19 in Alberta, the tone from Dr. Deena Hinshaw was somber. The mainstream media dutifully reported the death of a child and how this means the virus clearly threatens us all, not just the old and vulnerable.

The response from COVID-19 lockdown proponents and the NDP was morbidly welcoming, in a sense. None of them would celebrate the death of a child, but they could not contain their excitement they now had evidence to indicate that COVID-19 was deadly to children. Their moment of glory was short-lived.

Simone Spitzer is the older sister of the child who passed away. She was horrified her brother’s death was being used as a political football and she took to Facebook to call it out. Spitzer exposed her brother Nathanael had been in the hospital for months and had passed away from terminal brain cancer, not COVID-19, as had been reported by government and media alike.

Spitzer’s post went viral on social media, but remained entirely ignored by the mainstream media. When the Western Standard began reporting on the AHS misrepresentation of the cause of Nathanael’s death, Hinshaw was forced to apologize and retract the statement.

The apologies, tweet deletions, and retractions then began to come in fast. NDP leader Rachel Notley had ghoulishly used Nathanael’s death as a hammer with which to attack the UCP. Notley had even attacked AHS for their daring to have mentioned “other complicating factors” when they announced the death. She dismissed those “other complicating factors” as an excuse from the UCP as a way of cleaning the blood off of their hands. She wanted to make it sound as if a perfectly healthy child had been killed by COVID-19, and Jason Kenney was directly responsible. Notley deleted her tweets and apologized to the Spitzer family, but the damage has been done.

As we near the two-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t pretend any longer we don’t know much about the virus. We should recognize and be thankful healthy children are almost entirely immune to the effects of COVID-19. While kids have tested positive for the virus leading to virtual evacuations of schools, they usually demonstrate no symptoms and suffer no ill effects. Rarer still are healthy children suffering severe effects.

Since the beginning of the pandemic — out of hundreds of thousands of Albertans under the age of 19 — only one has been listed as having died of COVID-19. In light of the Spitzer debacle, the cause of that lone death has now become a legitimate question of the government.

We have to thank the Spitzer family for speaking up in this time of tragedy and mourning to call this out. We should let them grieve in peace now, but media must also pick up and carry on with the issue this brave family has exposed. We can’t trust AHS’s numbers when it comes to COVID-19 death statistics.

How many times has this happened?

Almost 3,000 deaths in Alberta have been attributed to COVID-19 since the pandemic began. With a population of 4.6 million and during nearly two years, that is a long way from the sort of numbers the Spanish Flu posted, though our governments are acting as if today’s pandemic is just as lethal. Now we have to ask ourselves: how many of those 3,000 deaths were actually caused primarily by COVID-19?

We do know 86% of the COVID-19 deaths in Alberta had comorbidities. That statistic needs some more detail filled in if we are to interpret the data correctly. Diabetes, obesity, and asthma are serious comorbidities, but they’re also manageable conditions. COVID surely robbed people of years of life despite their having serious conditions already. We want to prevent this as much as possible of course. What we need to figure out is how many of the people who died of COVID-19 were going to die at approximately that time anyway.

How many fatalities that had been attributed to COVID-19 were cases such as Nathanael’s, where he was about to pass away regardless of a positive COVID-19 test? How many cancer patients, people with heart conditions, or pending renal failure died and were added to the list of COVID-19 deaths, despite the virus actually being a secondary or even tertiary contributor to the person’s death?

The average age of a person dying from COVID-19 has dropped from 82 years, to 79 years. This is not a disease that is prone to taking people long before their time in most cases.

We need accurate numbers as we model government responses to the pandemic. We have set aside critical rights under the Charter and have justified this based on the risk the pandemic presents to the general public. Every restriction comes with costs – both social and fiscal. We need to do a cost-benefit analysis when making policies, and we can’t do it accurately if we are not getting truthful numbers.

We have to get realistic about who’s at risk from COVID-19, as well. The fearmongering with regards to risks presented to children is reprehensible. Not every disease puts everybody at risk equally, and we can’t properly model policies to battle the disease if we don’t use accurate facts. When I finished high school at the end of the 1980s, we were all taught HIV was going to spread rapidly throughout all communities and that we would all be losing loved ones to the disease. In reality, HIV remained contained almost exclusively among the gay male and IV drug-using communities.

HIV is now considered a manageable condition and its spread is well under control. How many more could have been saved had we targeted the truly vulnerable communities rather than pretending for years the virus put everybody at risk?

There are likely a not an insignificant number of cases of mislabeled COVID-19 deaths out there. Not every family is as brave as the Spitzer’s have been and they can’t be blamed. Upon losing a loved one, nobody is eager to jump into a political hornet’s nest. Alberta needs to do a full audit of the fatalities that have been attributed to COVID-19 so far. We can release a great deal of the medical details without compromising the privacy of the victims and their families.

We already have enough distrust of the government and its motivations in this pandemic. True and full transparency in the fatality statistics will help regain some of that trust. We can then start modeling our policy responses to the pandemic based on the real risks, rather than what clearly appear to be exaggerated ones.

Cory Morgan is the Alberta Political Columnist for the Western Standard and Host of the Cory Morgan Show

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.

530 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.