My thanks to PC Party President Grant Schmidt for a different way of looking at Saskatchewan's political scene over the last three weeks. I'm sure many of you appreciate Grant's direct way of problem solving and telling it like it is. He has devoted his life to being part of the public-policy process in our province and his commentaries certainly reflect that ongoing thirst to make our province a better place in which to live. I am sure that Grant and others will continue to contribute to this commentary over the next year.
Over the past three weeks, I've certainly had my fill of American politics and the ongoing drama around the Trump presidency. It's exhausting to watch! Many of my American acquaintances are beginning to feel the same way and would like to turn on their television sets to get some "real" news instead of this daily saga. It was good to see America's law makers pull back on the dismantling of their so-called Obama care medical system until they can come up with something better that will not take medical benefits away from tens of millions of their citizens. They will need some type of all-party initiative to make that happen or face the wrath of voters in 2018. Even Donald Trump has figured that out.
Because of the world-wide abilities of electronic communication and social media, I didn't totally leave the world of Saskatchewan and its politics while being away. That would be too much for a person like myself to do without going through some kind of massive withdrawal process. Like everyone else who pays taxes in this province, I was wondering how Mr. Wall and his Sask Party government were going to stop their big spending habits, poor policy decision making and an over-reliance on non-renewal resource revenue.
Many of those answers came down in last week's budget and I believe, once again, that Mr. Wall got a few things right and a whole bunch of things wrong. My congratulations to Trent Wotherspoon for finally getting up his courage as Leader of the Opposition and doing the right thing by finally calling the Premier on the lies he has been telling to the Saskatchewan people for the last few years. He lied to us about the state of our economy and the spending of his government before the last election campaign. He did it during the last campaign when the PC Party stood on the steps of the Legislature and pointed out the truth about our government's spending and he did it in the budget immediately after the election campaign. So once again, congratulations Mr. Wotherspoon - it was worth losing a day's pay on behalf of Saskatchewan's taxpayers.
For a long time, the PC Party has been saying that Saskatchewan needed to move to a tax regime that was more consumption based and one that would leave personal income taxes low. We believe the incentive to work hard and to work smart and to work cooperatively with our fellow citizens should be the foundation of our society. A phased in approach to harmonization of our federal and provincial sales taxes would keep our businesses competitive and employing people. That should be the long term goal of any Saskatchewan government. Mr. Wall based broadened sales taxes and kept personal taxes low but did not take the final step. What he has done is left in place the hodge-podge of special deals where some industries and businesses can claim the PST back like the GST while others cannot. The potash industry has been getting the special deal for years as have other large businesses. I wouldn't doubt that some of the ones working on the south Regina bypass are getting a special consideration on PST. Other business people are telling me that their bidding and building processes are now very uncompetitive because of the changes.
Half measures and policies built around four-year election windows are not what Saskatchewan people want from their government. I haven't had time yet to go through the entire budget book like some others have already done that shows that this Sask Party government is hacking and slashing in a whole bunch of areas that don't make a lot of sense for very little monetary gain. In other areas, like the Regina bypass, they are having to borrow more money quicker than expected to pay the bills.
I see a definite trend in this budget to pit rural and urban people against one another and that will not benefit this province going forward. I'm sure as the weeks unfold and more people get a look at this document and our government's direction, that there will be a host of issues that rear their ugly heads. Hopefully our government will take the opportunity to step back and have some sober second thoughts and then proceed with long-term policy options that will get us out of the mess that falling commodity prices and Sask Party over-spending have gotten us into.
Watch carefully because I certainly will be.
These issues must be debated for “The Right Reasons”