Monday, August 11, 2008

Ralph Goodale Speaks Candidly About The West's Prospects

Ralph Goodale is an MP with a huge wealth of experience in Saskatchewan politics. In the 1980s - as leader of the Provincial Liberal Party, Ralph was the LONE VOICE OF REASON in the Legislature, as both the NDP and governing conservatives were on spending binges. Both the NDP and PCs were presenting platforms of excessive spending in a time of fiscal uncertainty (sound familiar?). I still recall Mr. Goodale's incredibly honest and intellectual assessment of the Saskatchewan fiscal situation presented in local papers (in a legislature dominated by the free-spending PCs and Dippers, poor Ralph's only resort was a "letter to the editor"). That editorial received accolades from economists and journalists - but the public still voted Tory. In the years to follow, the Saskatchewan public lamented their populist votes being wasted on "that nice regular guy" - Grant Devine - as they saw a province with an economy in the dumps, and a huge chunk of conservative MLAs under the threat of prison or other forms of justice...

Fast-forward to 2008, and time seems to have stood still. Conservatives once again have their clutches on Saskatchewan (both federally and provincially - as it was in the 80s). Instead of Devine and Mulroney, we have Wall and Harper. Still all "tax-and-spend" Tories. Still brash, populist provincial Premiers pretending their economically "solid" province is impregnable to a slumping national economy. Still, a PM who would rather give the rich - and his oil-financed backers - tax breaks, while the middle class swallows the brunt of national expenses and debt.

Fast-forward to 2008, and you STILL have Ralph Goodale as one of the few elected voices of reason in Saskatchewan.

Reading Ralph's weekly emails this morning, I just could not hold back from that nostalgic trip down memory lane. I was only in Grade 9 when I read his editorial, but the common sense and wisdom of this man stuck with me... Here is Ralph's latest bit of wisdom:


The western Canadian economy is booming right now, thanks to world-wide inflation in prices for basic commodities like oil.

That good fortune is not the result of any government policy. It’s simply our long-awaited turn to cash-in on rising global markets.

But be cautious. The commodities boom – as enjoyable as it is, while it lasts – is masking fundamental weaknesses that Stephen Harper’s Conservatives continue to ignore, or even make worse.

Mr. Harper has recklessly increased federal spending by more than $40 billion, to try to buy voters with their own money. Prudence has been thrown to the wind.

He has also eroded the tax-base – pushing Canada to the brink of a deficit once again, while failing to provide meaningful reductions in personal income taxes.

Independent monitoring agencies, like the Conference Board of Canada, are reporting a sub-standard performance by this country in such fields as productivity growth, innovation, literacy skills and environmental integrity.

In four of the last six months, despite western resource wealth, the economy not only stalled overall, it actually shrank. Sectors like manufacturing, forestry and tourism are in particular trouble.

The Bank of Canada and all major private sector forecasters are now predicting a pathetic annual growth rate of barely one percent.

In July, 55,000 Canadian jobs were lost. The last time we saw that sort of setback was in the early 1990’s under Brian Mulroney.

Remember, the Harper Conservatives are the people who failed to tell the truth about Income Trusts or Equalization.

They are the ones who raised Personal Income Tax Rates, while claiming to cut them. They are the ones who proposed investment policies that encouraged foreign takeovers of Canadian enterprises.

Incompetence and dishonesty are their hallmarks.

That’s why Tory times are always, ultimately, tough times. And it’s happening again!


This summer, Canada marks a significant 10th anniversary.

It was during the summer of 1998 that the Finance Minister of that day, Paul Martin, sent the financial statements of the Government of Canada for the 1997-1998 fiscal year to the Auditor-General for final examination.

This audit showed that for the first time in a generation, the federal government had actually balanced its books.

Federal spending had been brought under control. Annual deficits of $40 billion had been eliminated. In fact, Canada had a small but historic surplus that year of $3.5 billion. After 27 years of continuous red-ink, the nation’s fiscal paradigm had recently changed.

The “new normal” became a decade of balanced budgets, rapidly declining federal debt, and taxes reduced year after year.

As consequence, Canada achieved impressive annual growth – the strongest period of economic expansion since the boom right after World War two. Job creation was the best in 30 years. Consumer and business confidence were high.

Canada’s fiscal standing shot-up to Number–One among all G-8 countries

But after just two-and-a-half years of Harper government, there are worrying signs of economic and fiscal trouble.

Independent rating agencies say Canada’s overall economic growth has stalled. High-paying full time jobs are being shredded. Canadian productivity is down. So is our capacity for innovation.

Forty percent of our workforce lack sufficient literacy skills. And Canada’s environmental performance is poor.

Conservative spending is skyrocketing. Stephen Harper has become the biggest spending Prime Minster in history. At the same time, he has eroded the tax base and eliminated all the budgetary safeguards that used to keep this country solidly in the black.

Last Friday, the Harper government reported that at the beginning of this current fiscal year it actually recorded a deficit once again.

Not a good sign!

1 comment:

bocanut said...

Did you hear about your Communications Guru's bonehead move to-day?
The senior killer T's- Turner and Thibeaut