Economic reality raises its ugly hand

Having to keep up with rightwing perspectives on political issues these days can be tiring. It’s also occasionally amusing. Once in a while, however, they say something that makes perfect sense, even if it is something they should have thought about more than 15 years ago.

In this case I am referring to how previous generations of Saskatchewan Party trolls and MLA’s were contending that starting in 1992, former NDP premier Roy Romanow closed over 50 hospitals, leaving our rural health care system in turmoil. Suddenly (PA Herald, February 17, 2024, p. 6), along comes Canadian Taxpayer Federation columnist Gage Haubrich maintaining that the province is so deep in debt that if the Saskatchewan Party’s next budget does not create a surplus, we’re heading for a 1990’s scenario repeat when Romanow “was forced to take drastic measures” to deal with the Devine financial nightmare.

During the Romanow era, Haubrich maintains that “the government was in such dire straights” that their only course of action was to introduce radical “spending cuts and tax hikes.” Unfortunately, he still tries to sell his message by repeating the Sask Party’s campaign lie that “52 hospitals were closed or converted”, when in reality only 3 were closed (P.A.’s second hospital, due to asbestos contamination and two others due to shrinking populations and better facilities nearby), while the remainder had their facilities upgraded, were reopened and RETAINED their hospital status, and now provided government services that were first only found in our larger urban centres.

Haubrich also attempted to try to paint Romanow as the “typical tax and spend NDPer”, noting that his actions still resulted in his being forced to raise gas, business and provincial tax levels. However, pretending that the Sask Party’s fiscal woes were only starting to become concerning in early 2014 (when we were allegedly only $6 billion in debt) ignores two now well-known facts. First, in 2023 Haubrich maintains that the province had gradually “drifted” towards a $19 billion deficit (in actuality, it’s closer to $30 billion, which exceeds even Devine’s excesses), when in reality Romanow’s successor, Lorne Calvert, had left the Sask Party government of Brad Wall with surplus budgets. Still, Haubrich maintains that if retiring Minister of Finance, Donna Harpauer, were to leave her final budget in surplus country, this could eventually save the SP from extinction come October. 

In other words, reality is again raising its ugly hand, emphatically telling Haubrich “we’re already bankrupt.”

Premier Moe must know this, but by emphasizing marketing forays to such places as India, he can build even larger markets for Saskatchewan’s embattled farmers facing critical financial considerations. For instance, will the hope of increasing the export of lentils to the sub-continent’s market mean that they’ll have that increased tonnage available in a year where drought and expectation of hotter than normal summer temperatures may slash crop yields to minimalist levels.

As to his government’s decision to stop collecting carbon tax premiums on home heating fuels, and even possibly no longer relinquishing that tax to the feds but using it to stem the hemorrhaging of his own treasury, how does he intend to handle a public lashing back due to their no longer receiving much needed carbon tax rebates from the federal government?

Unfortunately, it now appears that the Sask Party is going to forget about every other matter on its agenda, including dealing with housing and affordability issues is to try and use child-based “concerns” and incorrect financial musings to enhance some form of public perception that they are still battling and “protecting” everyone from federal government overreach.

How this will be developed poses some seriously mind-blowing distortions upon reality they will have to get voters to swallow, including a continued painting of Justin Trudeau as “bad” and climate change “not supported by the facts.” They will then bend the conversation around towards having voters believe that protecting our children is a far more dangerous and laudable problem to address on the campaign trail.

The Saskatchewan “United” Party initiate this trend when during the Saskatoon Meewasin campaign their candidate maintained that hundreds of children have either died or been physically harmed by “the jab” (receiving Covid vaccinations). In Lumsden Morse, it was the party of “Karens” again upset that their children knew more of the meanings on the Planned Parenthood flash cards than did even these members of the “free love” generation. This introduction of child-focused challenges to parental authority have now led right wing media outlets such as the Western Standard to believe that we’re now involved in a “war on children”.

This child-driven war is focused upon two things: a parent’s “right” (actually, an obligation) to raise their children and provide moral leadership and “concerns” at what appear to be children being “groomed” by society, especially in schools, to accept the possible changing of sexual identity merely to overcome emotional conflicts they encounter on a daily basis dealing with their birth designations. 

Personally, I find the hysteria raised by children allegedly “wanting” to transform their sexual identity to another form, be it of the opposite sex or to consider themselves to be nonbinary as moderately insane. In our schools, it is bullying practices that almost always cause children to question their own sexual role in life, and yet even when they are finally satisfied with the changes that they’ve made in understanding their own sexual feelings, the problem still remains. Witness, for instance, the story of Nex Benedict, a non-binary 16-year-old student attending Owasso High School in Oklahoma. She/they were set upon by three girls in a washroom and severely beaten earlier in February, only to die the next day. Neither her friend accompanying her nor her satisfaction of being able to utilize they/them pronouns could protect her.

Even so, our rightwing parties will continue to ignore the inanity of their parenting concerns, while simultaneously failing to introduce them to the decisions they must make when they become adults. So, if you’re aged 18 to 30 and still think voting isn’t worth the effort, look forward to an ever-decreasing way to participate in the democratic process. It’s good to see people concerned about the province’s finances, columnist Ken MacDougall writes, even if their concerns should have been raised 15-20 years ago.