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Monday, May 10, 2010 

"The Saskatchewan Party Government Has Become Its Own Worst Enemy"

One of the best political bloggers in Saskatchewan is Joe Kuchta who writes on his Owls & Roosters blogsite. He has a great post today, worthy of being read far and wide. Here it is in its entirety:

"The Saskatchewan Party government has become its own worst enemy. The air of confidence that ushered in the young government just 30 months ago has turned to one of arrogance, contempt and superiority. The end result is the almost regular beating the Wall government takes in the newspaper.

In his May 5, 2010, column, the Leader-Post’s Murray Mandryk unloaded on Health Minister Don McMorris and the Wall government’s behaviour over its decision to allow hospital foundations to send fundraising letters to former patients. At issue is McMorris misleading the legislature on April 12, 2010, saying that he had consulted with the privacy commissioner four different times on the new legislation when it turns out he hadn’t.

Here is a snapshot of the words Mandryk used in describing the major players and their actions: “dishonest” “refuse to listen” “mislead the public” “alarming” “narrow-minded” “obstreperous” “insular” “out-of-touch” “dishonest” “deception” “arrogance” “lying to the house” “unbelievable” “misleading the people of Saskatchewan” “defending the indefensible” “didn’t consult” “misled citizens” and “creating a bogus argument.” [Premier needs to take stock (StarPhoenix, May 5, 2010)]On May 8, 2010, Mandryk took aim at Advanced Education, Employment and Labour Minister Rob Norris, who has been engaged in a non-war stop with labour almost since the day he was sworn in on November 21, 2007.

Norris’s latest attack on working people is with Bill 80 – the government’s controversial and unwarranted legislation affecting the construction industry. According to Mandryk, Norris had recently met with Terry Parker, the business manager for the Saskatchewan Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council, and confronted him over an encounter Premier Brad Wall had had with angry Building Trades Council members when he and his family were checking into a Regina hotel for the Saskatchewan Party’s convention in March.

“Suffice to say, things didn’t go well,” Mandryk said.

This is how Mandryk described Norris and the Wall government in general: “pompous” “partisan” “annoying” “controversial” “not listening” “doesn’t like union members” “retaliation” “woeful performances” and “ineptitude.” [When last become first, worry (StarPhoenix, May 8, 2010)]

And then there’s the premier himself spinning a web of deception and hypocrisy over the government’s recent signing of the New West Partnership agreement with Alberta and British Columbia.

Wall is certainly not doing himself or his government any favours by associating with seemingly extreme and nasty people, either.

Tom MacNeill is the founder, president and CEO of 49 North Resources Inc., a Saskatoon-based, Saskatchewan focused investment company with strategic operations in financial, managerial advisory and merchant banking. The company provides diversified exposure to oil & gas, potash, uranium, diamonds, coal, base & precious metals, and rare earth elements.

In an interview with the StarPhoenix last year, MacNeill described himself as a “right-wing, private industry capitalist.” [Expansion of mining predicted (StarPhoenix, May 11, 2009)]

49 North is a supporter of the Saskatchewan Party. Since 2008, the company has donated $2,092 to the political party. Tom’s brother, Ken MacNeill, is the president and CEO of Shore Gold Inc., and is a former member of the Enterprise Saskatchewan Minerals Sector Team.

MacNeill abhors socialism. That message comes through loud and clear on the 49 North website.

MacNeill appears to blame the people living in cities for electing a succession of “socialist” governments, which he says “have shaped, and in some instances, profoundly hindered the Province’s economic development path.”

“Although the Province’s population is relatively conservative by nature, polarization between left and right factions in urban and rural areas respectively, has often led to election results that run counter to the generally centrist popular sentiment. In fact, the left wing New Democratic Party and its predecessor, Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, have held the seat of power approximately 75% of the time since World War II with the right wing Conservatives 16% and Liberals 9%,” the website states.

This seems like an odd way to promote a company to potential investors – denigrate and insult half the people living in the province where your business is headquartered.

The last conservative government in Saskatchewan left the province in ruins.

The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan notes that the Grant Devine Tory’s ran consecutive deficit budgets, accumulating a debt of over $1.5 billion its first four years in office. The PCs ran up a deficit of over $1.2 billion in 1986–87, a far cry from the deficit figure of $389 million that had been presented in the 1986 pre-election budget.

The fiscal crisis led to cutbacks in services, cancellation of programs, and firing of employees, the encyclopedia states.

By the end of the 1980s it was running a surplus on operating expenses excluding debt charges, but interest payments drove the province deeper into debt each year. By 1991–92 the accumulated debt was over $15 billion, and annual interest payments exceeded $500 million, the third-largest item in the budget after health and education.

The greatest failure of the Devine years was the accumulation of an unprecedented debt, much of it attributable to tax cuts and unwise election spending. The government lost power in 1991, winning only 10 seats and 25% of the popular vote. After the election, a scandal came to light, resulting in the conviction of several former Conservative MLAs on fraud charges. [James M. Pitsula; The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan]

This is the world that Premier Brad Wall, who served as a ministerial assistant in the final years of Grant Devine’s Tory government, grew up in but the 49 North website acknowledges none of it.

The 2010 Saskatchewan Investment Conference held May 6-7, 2010, at the Saskatoon Inn Hotel and Conference Centre was sponsored by 49 North.

Organized by Vancouver-based investor conference specialists Cambridge House International, the two day event focused on investment opportunities in energy and agriculture in Saskatchewan. Attending the conference were over 10 market resource analysts participating in panels, workshops and keynote presentations, and over 40 public companies representing the world’s top mineral exploration and development management teams. Among the exhibitors was Enterprise Saskatchewan.

The agenda for May 6 included a luncheon Q & A and panel discussion with Saskatchewan Energy and Resources Minister Bill Boyd. The dinner itinerary featured Premier Brad Wall fielding questions from a panel of industry analysts.

Earlier in the day, MacNeill gave a corporate presentation entitled Saskatchewan Politics and Economics… Why Growth Was Stunted. It showed that Saskatchewan’s resource industry supplies one third of the world’s potash and one quarter of the world’s uranium. It’s also the second largest oil, third largest natural gas, and third largest coal producing province in the country. Saskatchewan has significant oil sands potential and has the world’s largest diamond bearing kimberlite field.

One slide asked the question: “If we have all of this then why were we a have-not Province?” The answer: “Socialism.”

MacNeill’s presentation went on to compare the post-World War II differences in development between Saskatchewan and Alberta, slamming the supposed evils of socialism, things like Crown corporations, higher taxes, government oversight, and focusing on jobs not wealth creation.

Covering the event were StarPhoenix reporters Jeremy Warren and Jeanette Stewart who said MacNeill told the crowd that socialists are good for one thing.

“The one thing socialists are good at is building things: Power lines, roads, infrastructure,” MacNeill said.

But socialism’s positive contribution to society stops where the pavement ends because the political and economic philosophy has impeded the growth of Saskatchewan’s natural resource sector, MacNeill said.

Socialism killed private investment in Saskatchewan’s mining and oil and gas industries, he said.

“Socialism is an active enemy of business,” said MacNeill. “It changed our economic landscape forever.”

MacNeill would like to see 10 times more mines operating in Saskatchewan, but the province has to first shed its socialist past, he said.

After six decades, Saskatchewan’s resource sector is poised to catch up with the rest of Canada, MacNeill said.

“All that stuff that socialism kept in the ground is there for the taking now,” he said. “We’ve only scratched the surface in regards to resource extraction in this province.” [Sask. stalled by socialism, CEO says (StarPhoenix, May 7, 2010)]

Saskatchewan’s Crowns sure came in handy this year, though, when the right wing Wall government stripped them of nearly all their profits (except for SaskPower) to help offset the government’s $2.1 billion potash miscalculation, the biggest financial mistake in the province’s history. [Gov’t avoids best explanation (StarPhoenix, April 30, 2010)]

Wall Street was only too happy to accept a bailout of $700-billion in public funds when socialism came to its rescue in late-2008.

Never mind that taxes help build the schools, libraries, swimming pools, sports fields, local hockey arenas, museums, affordable housing, playgrounds, community centres, roads, transit, hospitals, and public parks that residents hold dear.

Never mind that “government oversight” protects peoples’ rights, culture, health, the environment, and help provide better wages, working conditions, worker safety, and a decent standard of living.

For people on the far right like MacNeill, the idea of the public good is way down on the list of priorities, which always begins with profit and wealth. It’s a survival of the fittest mentality driven by greed with little social responsibility or being a good corporate citizen.

The scary thing is the Wall government embraced the conference with fervor sending two of its biggest names along with its flagship economic development agency as an exhibitor.

Canadian Cynic's prediction of Nov 7, 2007 turns out to have been prophetic!

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