by Ken MacDougall
This was supposed to be the week in which I FINALLY put to rest the tearing apart of the Descendants of Devine Party, alias the Saskatchewan Party, for their ongoing mentions of “152 hospitals and 178 schools closed” during the Romanow / Calvert era of restrained yet effective fiscal policy. Mind you, they did this for no other reason than the fact that they had no well-defined policies that would restrict their continued plundering of the provincial treasury, were unwilling to cite the many reasons as to why then-Premier Romanow found such action both urgent and necessary, why the DoD hasn’t done anything in the past thirteen years to reverse Romanow’s changes, if they were so draconian, or why they hadn’t gone through the same review of the deteriorating state of education and health care costs when they were provided such opportunity during the ACTUAL Devine reign.
Now, however – or at least until Premier Moe calls another election – we can temporarily “forget” about fact that the DoD has no access to a Thesaurus in order to properly describe the process Romanow’s Cabinet went through, that being “restructuring” as opposed to “closure”, as the Supreme Court has now given the premier another “poor Saskatchewan, the rest of Canada is against us (TROC)” moment by concluding in an not-even-close verdict of 6-3, that the federal government’s imposition of a carbon tax, in the absence of the DoD doing NOTHING in a five year warning period to develop a plan to help this province reduce its carbon footprint, was in fact constitutionally correct.
The March 26th edition of the Herald provided me with ample fodder by which to rip this government’s position on the carbon tax to shreds, not the least of which were the lame and utter banal choice of words spoken by the Premier. The “I will never, ever apologize for standing up for what Saskatchewan people believe in” headline kicker was particularly nice, considering the fact that as a Saskatchewan-born resident living here for over forty years, I certainly didn’t agree with the government’s plan to oppose carbon emission regulation and ignore his own government’s foot-dragging on tackling this issue, along with a few hundred thousand more who, unlike the climate deniers, voiced similar objection.
I’m also getting a little bored at the premier constantly using the “standing up for the province of Saskatchewan” as the major descriptor of the government’s action in taking the case to the Supreme Court.
It also galls me that the same people keep acting as Premier Moe’s personal lapdogs, especially when their being in a position to help formulate a carbon reduction policy that would have met the federal government’s criteria, their inaction signifies their indifference to the very problem itself. SARM President Ray Orb, for instance, fails to differentiate how this tax is “unfair to Saskatchewan’s rural municipalities, farmers and ranchers, and will continue to put Saskatchewan producers at a competitive disadvantage.” What’s the “difference” between Saskatchewan farmers and, say, Manitoba’s farmers, ranchers and rural municipalities, especially when Manitoba first was a part of this same fight, but decided in the long run that it was better for them to collectively come up with a policy that met the federal government’s guidelines?
But, hey, the DoD court case has already cost every Saskatchewan taxpayer the next four years of their federal carbon tax rebate. What we really need is a translator who will interpret Premier Moe’s own words, “I will never, ever apologize” into Prairie English. Mad Magazine’s own Alfred E. Neuman has the perfect translation: “What, me worry?” – as the provincial debt approaches $26 billion…
Even people who are instinctively “pro” in support of DoD policy keep stumbling over the problem without realizing its obviousness. For instance, CEO of the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce, Steve McLellan, makes the point that “we really need climate change policy where emission-intensive and trade-exposed industries, the foundation of Saskatchewan’s economy, are not penalized by one-size-fits-all carbon pricing.” Isn’t the point of the carbon tax legislation to LOWER the output of “emission-intensive” industries, such as, say, the province giving tax incentives for industries to equip refinery stacks with algae scrubbers? How about using subsidies to the oil industry to instead be directed towards helping farmers on the brink of fiscal disaster reorganize their practices to smaller “market garden” enterprises where their crops are guaranteed sales, even as the principal California sources find their operations scarred by the effects of climate change and increasingly dangerous summer fire seasons diminishing their crop sizes?
Come to think of it, why isn’t the Chamber of Commerce putting more pressure on the Moe government to diversify our economy? Isn’t that the problem that got us into this economic mess in the first place, namely, that we have grown fat and used to feeding upon non-renewable resource royalties?
The truth is, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives already knows what the outcome of this decision will be in enabling the DoD to continue its foot-dragging in developing a more sustainable and carbon-free market mentality – blame it all on the feds. Simon Enoch, its Saskatchewan director, maintains that “The carbon tax debate has proven far too useful to Conservatives as a cudgel to bash the federal Liberals at every moment, and certainly our premier and the premier of Alberta have been more than happy to use that cudgel.”
I find it remarkable that the Conservative Party of Canada, having just gone through a policy convention in Alberta premier Jason Kenney’s back yard, STILL haven’t gotten the message, particularly from its younger members, that IF the party had a better and more INCLUSIVE climate change policy and agenda, the prospects of Erin O’Toole replacing western Canada’s favourite dart board covering picture, that being one Justin Trudeau, as the next prime minister of Canada. However, with Alberta and Saskatchewan still all-too-willing to vote “Hate”, and the three playboys of the Saskatchewan Party, founders of the Koch-like Canada Growth Council and its PAC offshoot, WestWatch, will be right there, insuring that both provinces elect only “true” Conservatives, turning off the more climate-enlightened cabal of central Canadians whose beliefs are “conservative”, and thus guaranteeing Mr. Trudeau a third term in aimlessly managing the economy.
Back in 2018 when the DoD was making a big fuss about the carbon tax and promising to fight it in the Supreme Court, I couldn’t stop laughing at how absurdly self-righteous the party’s Justice spokesperson at the time, Don Morgan, in outlining their intentions.
Having on occasion being assigned the Grade 11 Law course to teach, and recalling only vaguely the shared responsibilities of the federal and provincial government’s taxation duties, I decided to make a point of expressing that knowledge, and put into bold print in my December 14, 2018 column the following challenge:
Should the Saskatchewan Party inevitably win this case in court (after appeal), I will donate $1,000 to Mr. Morgan’s favourite charity.
Having now had it confirmed that my initial prediction was correct, I have decided to provide the money to my granddaughter, so as to pay a part of her university tuition fund.
Mr. Morgan, I hope you don’t mind.