A Manitoba perspective on governance and the state of our nation

Interesting Times
We are living in interesting times… I am watching two governments (one national, one provincial) mirroring each other in their current tactics to reduce the public service, reduce departmental budgets, and and ultimately reduce services to Canadians or Albertans, depending on which government we are talking about…

Here are some things that I am noticing:

1. Our Canadian parliament was prorogued when there was no requirement to do so, other than the Prime Minister was not willing to take the heat of the day. A waste of $48 million is estimated for having to pay parliamentarians for not being in the House for the 22 days that Parliament is prorogued.  In my view, this is irresponsible, as elected representatives accountable to the people of Canada.  Proroguing was to be used for very special circumstances.  It has now been used twice by Prime Minister Harper, both times when the heat became unbearable.

2. Stockwell Day as the new head of the Treasury Board is going to launch a spending review, promising years of spending scrutiny to find cuts to slay the deficit, reduce government budgets, government services and government expenditures.  Unfair and un-necessary.  The current government cut GST twice – with no requirement to do so – we have now encountered a major deficit as a country, which Mr. Day is going to try to recover by reducing government spending, public servants, and public services. GST should never have been cut – as a value-added tax, GST is paid by those who spend, not those who do not spend (in other words, it taxes discretionary spending.)  We could have fared much better in this economic downturn had we not trimmed GST.  When the budget comes up for a vote in March 2010, I dearly hope that it will not be passed.  This is not playing fair ball.  Yes, that means an election – but the present government has had its chance, actually several chances.  They fumbled, badly.  The irony right now is that the government has promised to balance the books without raising the taxes.  If they had not cut the GST in the first place, we would not be having to “shrink the public service”, chop grants for valuable social investments, or reduce support businesses or non-profits.

3. Instead of investing in the new and emerging hot green economy like Ontario has done and the US administration and several European countries (solar, wind, other  alternative energy technologies, and new manufacturing in green technologies), the current government chose to use “bailouts” instead of investments into growing a sustainable economy for the future.  Their support to “big oil” is both short-sighted and unsustainable.  Even Shell sees the larger global economic pattern and is pulling out of big investments and planned expansions in the Oil Sands and moving to other countries.  Read…Shell to slow expansion in Canadian tar sands.

Now, to Alberta
The provincial government is, by all reports, set to bring down a budget that will include significant cuts to Alberta’s public service. Just like in the 90’s when Ralph Klein made hurtful cuts that Alberta is still reeling from, Ed Stelmach is set to do exactly the same.

Calgary news release: Albertans join together for public services

Last Updated: January 15, 2010 Print Comments (0)New campaign challenges government not to cut fabric of our communities…

It’s interesting to note citizen responses to these parallel national and Alberta initiatives:

The Conservative government has tumbled in the polls this January 2010, as Canadians begin to understand the deep irony in what is taking place, and as the present government carefully tries to filter out what it does not want us to know.  Fortunately, with social and alternative media, we are learning about what is taking place through other means that are both credible and helpful.

In Alberta, an amazing movement is taking place…While the Alberta government swears in a new cabinet, representatives from community human service organizations, teachers, parent groups, health professionals, students, faculty and labour organizations launched a new campaign in Calgary and Edmonton to get Albertans to join together for public services…..To help mobilize citizens and bring together people from various sectors, we are organizing 22 town hall events across the province.

The town hall meetings will start January 25 and will go to a number of cities and towns before the final two large events in Calgary (February 16th) and Edmonton (February 17th). “We are building an extensive movement to challenge the plan to cut $2 billion out of the provincial budget,” says Bill Moore-Kilgannon, Executive Director of Public Interest Alberta. “People need to deliver a very loud message to the government – deep cuts to public services are going to hurt people and our communities, and they are completely unnecessary given the continued growth of our economy and our billions in savings.”

This is not honorable
When a government makes bad decisions, invests in short-term tactics primarily for political gain, and does not respect some of the basic principles of sustainable economics, and then turns around and attacks the public service, reduces government services and budgets, expecting Canadians to support them, the people have to speak out.

This type of approach is not appropriate, not warranted, and definitely not honorable.  We, the people, will be the ones affected by reduced government budgets and services.  It is important to remember that public servants serve the people, but work for the government.  They are not in a position to object – their masters are the governing party.  It’s time to say… “enough is enough”.  We need both a more caring and economically savvy government.

For the record, this is a Manitoba perspective on the state of our nation!!

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