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Editorial: Brad Wall and the Saskatchewan Party don’t deserve another term

Written by Think Forward Staff
Thursday, 24 March 2016

While the corporate media has been singing the praises of Brad Wall and his rightwing government ever since the Saskatchewan Party first came to power in 2007, the reality is that Wall and his conservative regime have done very little to help everyday Saskatchewanians over the last nine years. And the Saskatchewan Party platform suggests that voters can expect more of the same if the Wall government is re-elected on April 4th.

Despite the prevailing perception of Wall as a strong economic manager, the Saskatchewan economy is now struggling thanks to falling commodity prices and the government’s failure to support programs, services, and infrastructure that could help boost the economy. Indeed, rather than investing in the province’s future, the Wall folks seem to believe that Saskatchewan can cut its way to prosperity.

For example, in its effort to show that Saskatchewan is “open for business,” the Wall government has cut the corporate tax rate from 17 to 12 percent, while maintaining royalty rates on commodities that are lower than rates in other oil-producing jurisdictions like Alberta, Texas, and North Dakota. This has resulted in a major revenue shortfall for the province, but instead of taking steps to raise revenue through progressive taxation or an increase in royalty rates, Wall and his clan have cut education funding while privatizing services and adding to the public debt.

On the privatization front, the Saskatchewan Party has sold the Hospitality Network, Heritage Gas, and nearly 2 million acres of community pasture lands. The government has also enabled the well-to-do to jump the queue for MRIs by allowing people to pay out of pocket for the service at private clinics. Critics argue that this move has weakened the public health care system, but the Wall government doesn’t see it that way. In fact, the Saskatchewan Party is offering up more privatization by proposing to sell most of the province’s publicly-owned liquor stores and expanding the private-pay option to CT scans.

Then there’s the issue of climate change, which the Wall team has completely neglected. Not only has the Saskatchewan Party failed to take any meaningful action to reduce the province’s greenhouse gas emissions, but Premier Wall has also stated his government’s opposition to a national carbon tax. Even though there’s a growing consensus across Canada and much of the world that we need to reduce our emissions by slashing our fossil fuel consumption, Brad Wall wants no part of these solutions.

And what about Saskatchewan’s poor? At 15.3 percent, the province’s poverty rate is among the worst in Canada, and child poverty is alarmingly high. However, as John Warnock notes, in Wall’s Saskatchewan “there is no concern for people who want to rent, seniors, people who have...low incomes, the disabled, or the many with few resources who come to our urban centres from reserves.” For these people, all the government has to offer is more trickle down policies that – they are told – will eventually somehow benefit them.

If you thought the government might change course now that the province’s economy is stumbling, you would be wrong. While the opposition is proposing to raise the minimum wage, reduce tuition fees, turn provincial student loans into grants, and fight poverty and homelessness, the Wall government wants to cut more taxes and reduce health care spending (!?!?). After almost a decade in power, the Saskatchewan Party has demonstrated that it’s simply uninterested in helping the average citizen. And with Election Day fast approaching, it’s clear that the Wall government hasn’t earned another term.

 

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