Saturday, October 27, 2007

Saskatchewan Party: Labour legislation and Crown corporations among targets for first Legislative session of a Brad Wall government

The Saskatoon StarPhoenix reported today that Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall told reporters Friday that a Sask. Party government would “reach out” to labour.

“We want them to join in the Enterprise Saskatchewan model,” Wall said. [Wall claims momentum with Sask. Party, SP Oct. 27, 2007]

Wall was responding to concerns raised by NDP Leader Lorne Calvert that the Sask. Party plan to create a public-private entity called Enterprise Saskatchewan to serve as the province’s central economic development agency raises flags for the future of Crown corporations and in areas such as labour laws because one of its expected tasks is “removing of barriers to growth.”

Calvert is absolutely right. That the Saskatchewan Party has a long history of suggesting that the Crowns and labour laws are barriers that need be removed is no secret.

It is interesting that Wall would even attempt to “reach out” to labour at this point or continue trying to ease people’s fears that the Crowns are safe when both will be targets in the first six months of a Saskatchewan Party government.

In a speech given at the Saskatoon Leaders Dinner on March 2, 2006, Saskatchewan Party Leader Brad Wall said:

“Most recently, I got into the specifics of [Enterprise Saskatchewan] at the North Saskatoon Business Association December meeting where I laid out the details of what we were proposing and the first 180 days of a Saskatchewan party government.

“This includes reforming the labour legislative environment in the first session of the House, implementing Vicq’s recommendations on lower taxes on growth, and stopping government intervention in the economy.”

With friends like that who needs enemies?

At the aforementioned North Saskatoon Business Association meeting on Dec. 8, 2005, Wall said that changes to labour legislation are “Non-negotiable and foundational to the terms of reference given to Enterprise Saskatchewan.”

Why on earth would Saskatchewan labour organizations want to be part of a process whose terms and outcomes are non-negotiable and pre-determined? The Saskatchewan Party’s Enterprise Saskatchewan scheme seems clearly flawed with little credibility.

(It should be noted that the NSBA were one of the business groups consulted when Enterprise Saskatchewan was being developed. Did Wall’s party “reach out” and consult labour?)

At the Regina Leaders Dinner on April 4, 2006, Wall told the audience that the purpose of Enterprise Saskatchewan was “to provide enterprise friendly leadership to our economy, to change our brand, and to warm up the business climate.”

No doubt the Saskatchewan Party’s close friends, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, were pleased to hear that. After all their agenda’s seem to mirror each other.

(Note: The 2006 & 2007 leaders’ dinner speeches given by Brad Wall appear to have been removed, without explanation, from the Saskatchewan Party website.)

Leader Brad Wall claims his party supports The Crown Corporations Public Ownership Act, yet past comments and the party’s current policy book seem to tell a different story.

The Saskatchewan Party has identified the Crowns and their policies as barriers to growth. Enterprise Saskatchewan, the cornerstone of the party’s economic vision, is designed to remove barriers to growth, many of which have been pre-determined thereby undermining the credibility of the Enterprise Saskatchewan board and its non-elected and as yet unidentified “sector teams” that will supposedly be tasked with studying each sector of the economy to identify barriers for removal.

Saskatchewan Party policy states that “all parts of government” (i.e. departments, agencies, Crown corporations, regulations and labour legislation) will be reviewed. It stands to reason this will include the four major Crown utilities that the party says will remain publicly owned. It also stands to reason should any so-called barriers be identified during those reviews the said barriers will be removed as per party policy. Just because the four major Crowns may be protected does not mean they are untouchable.

Despite assurances from leader Brad Wall that the Crowns will not be privatized or the operations of their subsidiaries wound down, the party policies still exist and are very real. It is reasonable to think that the party did not go through the trouble of undertaking a comprehensive review of its policies following its 2003 election defeat only to stand by and watch them sit idle should it form the next government.

It should be remembered that The Crown Corporations Public Ownership Act applies to more than just the four major Crowns that the Saskatchewan Party says it will protect – SaskTel, SaskPower, SaskEnergy and SGI. It also applies in part to:

Crown Investments Corporation of Saskatchewan
Liquor and Gaming Authority
Saskatchewan Gaming Corporation
Saskatchewan Telecommunications Holding Corporation
Saskatchewan Transportation Company
Saskatchewan Water Corporation
SGC Holdings Inc.
TransGas Limited

The Saskatchewan Party is silent on the fate of these Crowns, as well as others like the Saskatchewan Research Council and the Saskatchewan Communications Network. The media, many of which donate to the party, don’t seem too eager to talk about this or challenge party leader Brad Wall on its alleged support of the Act.

The party is also silent on whether it has any plans to amend the Act, since it too appears to be a barrier to the advancement of the Saskatchewan Party’s policies.

Below is a brief snapshot of the Saskatchewan Party’s views and policies regarding the Crowns:

“[W]e would put an end, an unequivocal and absolute end to the amazing practice of this government of using the Crown corporations to compete with small-business men and women. You bet we would do that.”
Brad Wall, Saskatchewan Party MLA for Swift Current, in the Legislature, March 25, 2002

“[W]e believe all but four of the major Crowns should be dispensed.”
Brenda Bakken, Saskatchewan Party MLA for Weyburn-Big Muddy, Weyburn Review, June 19, 2002

“The major initiative appears to be an attempt to enshrine the Crowns to ensure they will be the engines of the economy. We have not seen the legislation so whether that means all 87 crowns or just the 4 major Crowns (which we support) will be looked at when the bill is introduced.”
June Draude, Saskatchewan Party MLA for Kelvington-Wadena, commenting on the Province’s Speech from the Throne, March 2004

“The terms of reference of Enterprise Saskatchewan also include the end of government picking winners and losers in the economy.

“These initiatives are non-negotiable and are hard wired right into Enterprise Saskatchewan. Legislative changes where necessary will be readied for the first Legislative session.
– Brad Wall, Saskatchewan Party Leader, in a speech to the North Saskatoon Business Association, December 8, 2005, one year after voting in favour of The Crown Corporations Public Ownership Act.

“A Saskatchewan Party government will maintain Saskatchewan’s four major utilities (SaskPower, SaskTel, SaskEnergy and SGI) as government-owned Crown corporations and they will play a key role in the implementation of the Enterprise Saskatchewan Plan.”
Brad Wall, Saskatchewan Party Leader, The Promise of Saskatchewan (September 2004), which is now part of the Saskatchewan Party Policy Book (February 2007) p. 45

Enterprise Saskatchewan will develop a systematic and ongoing process to identify and remove barriers to growth in each of our key economic sectors.”
Brad Wall, Saskatchewan Party Leader, The Promise of Saskatchewan (September 2004), which is now part of the Saskatchewan Party Policy Book (February 2007) p. 43

“[N]on-tax barriers that will require the attention and diligence of Enterprise Saskatchewan include direct competition to business from various government agencies and Crowns attempting to diversify from core functions, as well as policies of the Crowns themselves.”
Brad Wall, Saskatchewan Party Leader, The Promise of Saskatchewan (September 2004), which is now part of the Saskatchewan Party Policy Book (February 2007) p. 48

“Most recently, I got into the specifics of [Enterprise Saskatchewan] at the North Saskatoon Business Association December meeting where I laid out the details of what we were proposing and the first 180 days of a Saskatchewan party government.

“This includes reforming the labour legislative environment in the first session of the House, implementing Vicq’s recommendations on lower taxes on growth, and stopping government intervention in the economy.”
Brad Wall, Saskatchewan Party Leader, Saskatoon Leaders Dinner, March 2, 2006, p. 6

“[Enterprise Saskatchewan] will be organized by sector teams whose job it will be to identify barriers to growth in each of the economic sectors that we know will attract investment and create jobs.

“It will report them publicly to the government and then hold the government accountable for how it is doing.”
Brad Wall, Saskatchewan Party Leader, Saskatoon Leaders Dinner, March 2, 2006, p. 7

“CC05-1. Keeping the Major Crowns Public – Be it resolved that a Saskatchewan Party government supports The Crown Corporations Public Ownership Act and will retain public ownership of our major Crown corporations as important tools in the provision of utility services to Saskatchewan families and businesses and important partners in the economic development of Saskatchewan.”
Saskatchewan Party Policy Book (February 2007) p. 11

“EC05-2. Rethinking Direct Government Investment and Intervention in the Economy – Be it resolved that a Saskatchewan Party government will replace direct government investment and intervention in the economy with…Enterprise Saskatchewan…and…The removal of barriers to private sector investment in Saskatchewan’s key economic sectors.”
Saskatchewan Party Policy Book (February 2007) p. 13

“EC05-3. Establishing the Right Economic Development Priorities – Be it resolved that the economic development priorities of a Saskatchewan Party government will be to…Maintain public ownership of Saskatchewan’s major crown utilities focused on the provision of power, telecommunications services, natural gas transmission and distribution and insurance services to Saskatchewan families and businesses at the lowest possible cost.”
Saskatchewan Party Policy Book (February 2007) p. 13

“EC05-9. Reviewing Regulations to Remove Barriers to Sustainable Growth – Be it resolved that a Saskatchewan Party government will mandate Enterprise Saskatchewan to review all government regulations every five years to eliminate barriers to environmentally sustainable economic growth.”
Saskatchewan Party Policy Book (February 2007) p. 15

“CC05-6. Stopping Provincial Government Competition With Private Sector Businesses – Be it resolved that a Saskatchewan Party government will immediately review provincial government competition with the private sector through government departments, agencies and Crown corporations in the delivery of services to the people of Saskatchewan.”
Saskatchewan Party Policy Book (February 2007) p. 30

“EC05-8. Performing a Service-Based Review of Government Operations – Be it resolved that a Saskatchewan Party government will perform a service-based review of government operations to ensure all parts of government are…Removing barriers to the development of an entrepreneurial and enterprising economy.”
Saskatchewan Party Policy Book (February 2007) p. 30

2 Comments:

At 1:12 PM, Blogger mooner said...

Joe........something I don't understand.

Both you Larry Hubich go on about Brad Wall's plan to dismantle the crowns or limit their influence in the business commuity, and re-jig labour laws due to the fact that the Sask Party sees them as a hinderance to a "business friendly environment" in Saskatchewan.

Well rather than going on and on about what's wrong with the Sask Party's plan, why don't you spend the the time and energy in telling us why it's a good idea NOT to do that. In your opinion why don't the crowns contribute to a "non-friendly" business climate in Saskatchewan, and why doesn't the current labour laws contribute to the same??

Is it possible for you to put aside you're left leaning philosphy and take a critical look at the situation and if necessary admit that there might be a problem? I would hope you are not so hide bound as to not be able to weigh both sides of the question.

Why would I want to keep the status quo in Saskatchewan...."if nothing changes-nothing changes"!

I think most people can see why it would be a good idea, why is it so bad??

 
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