Monday Morning Commentary is a day late because I wanted to further check on some issues that have been lying under the surface of the government’s dealings with the potash industry and some of their friends in big business.
I have known about this issue for sometime but did not want to go off half cocked. Even most of the media has not paid attention to what I think is a gross misuse of taxpayers’ dollars in Saskatchewan. Everyone is aware that the potash industry has been going through a major expansion phase for sometime now. There were a number of announcements by the various companies that currently have mines here and companies such as Billington (the huge Australian multi-national) which have made announcements on new green field projects. There has been enough growth in demand worldwide for these companies to make good corporate spending decisions in Saskatchewan and its potash resources.
It now appears that the government is going to give corporate tax credits in the amount of $100,000 per new office job in Saskatchewan created by the potash industry. This is being made retroactive to January 1, 2010. So the potash companies have been going to dramatically increase production and ramp up their mining operations because they see potash as a money maker. Why is the government now giving away tax credits for jobs that would have been created anyway?
I think the answer lies in a couple of other areas that this government seems to be involved in. It seems that a new office tower in Regina is being built by the Hill companies and coincidentally, the Mosaic potash company is taking the top half of this sixteen story building. It is also rumoured and I believe it to be fact, that the government i.e. the taxpayer, is taking the rest of the building for government office space. So in affect, the taxpayer of Saskatchewan will be paying for Mosaic’s new office jobs in Paul Hill’s building and the taxpayer will be paying for the rest of the building directly.
I’m wondering if this won’t also help convince Mosaic to take their name off Taylor Field and put it on the new proposed new domed stadium in downtown Regina. If the taxpayer were helping to training workers in small towns around Saskatchewan so that people could find jobs in the potash industry, no one would complain. But giving suits $100,000 tax credits to help fill a new office building in Regina for friends of the government, doesn’t seem like a good use of taxpayers’ money when so many of our citizens across this province are crying out for help in their time of need.
Does this government really have compassion? Their House Leader,
Mr. D’Autremont, was quoted last week telling people in rural Saskatchewan that they either had to choose highways or health care. Maybe he should have added $100,000 tax credits for suits in downtown Regina to the equation.
My final comment for the week is on the very recent announcement that
Chris Dekker has beaten out 79 other applicants to be the new head of Enterprise Saskatchewan. I know Mr. Dekker very well as he served in the former PC government as a media relations/speech writer and even served for a short time as my chief of staff when I was Leader of the Opposition. He is a fine fellow who always had good one-liners but quite honestly, does not have an economic development bone in his body. What he does have is a close buddy-buddy relationship with Messrs. Wall, Cheveldayoff, Doherty, Harry and Downs. Need I say more. So now the prime economic development agency of the Sask Party government is safely ensconced in the Premier’s office and it can go on wasting taxpayers’ dollars as it has for the last number of years but can now be safely directed to friends of the government without anyone saying boo.
This type of politics is why the NDP was defeated in 2007 and why Saskatchewan has not had any significant economic development since the last Progressive Conservative government in the 1980’s and early 90’s. This system must be removed and people put in place who are there for the right reasons. I am sure there will be much more unfolding on both of these stories so stay tuned.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”.