October 8, 2021

Premier Lorne Calvert finally called the provincial election. But this had
to wait until he had completed his usual fall fund raising speeches to the
business communities in Saskatoon and Regina.

Prior to this, the NDP government launched a major "feel good" advertising
campaign, "Saskatchewan is Wide Open," funded by the taxpayers. This
carried over to their pamphlet mailed to all households.

In the weeks leading up to the campaign, the premier presented a long list
of new projects and buildings to be paid for by the next government. He
appointed seven right-wing businessmen to a new board to manage Crown
Investments Corporation. He announced another new
public-private-participation project for Sask Power.

A range of taxes were cut over the past two years, resulting in two
straight provincial budgets with big deficits. Then he announced even more
tax cuts for the oil and gas industry and the northern mining industry.

Who is this premier? Is he really from the New Democratic Party? Or is he
the old Grant Devine of the provincial Tories? What is the difference?


NDP Government In Saskatchewan

by John W. Warnock

The NDP has now been in office in Saskatchewan for twelve years. The outline below summarizes the major thrust of the government in the implementation of the global program for the restructuring of capitalism. In this process, the NDP government has followed the patterns set by the Labour governments in New Zealand and Australia, but fear of defeat at the polls has prevented them from going as far as the Labour government of Tony Blair in Great Britain.

(1) Taxation policy. The stated goal has been to reproduce the tax structure that exists in Tory Alberta. There have been income tax cuts, particularly for those in the highest income brackets. Business and corporate taxes have been cut. Users taxes have been increased. Cutting provincial grants to school boards and municipalities has resulted in higher property taxes and users fees. They removed the municipal business tax. Royalties and taxes on resource industries have been steadily reduced to about one-third the level they were during the Blakeney government. To try to make up for some of the lost revenues, the NDP introduced government-sponsored gambling.

(2) Privatization and deregulation. The NDP government sold the remainder of the government’s equity in the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan, Sask Oil, Cameco, and the Lloydminister Heavy Oil Upgrader. It sold Sask Forest Products to MacMillan Blodell Corporation. It removed the limits on foreign ownership for the privatized corporations imposed by Grant Devine’s Tory government. It has privatized most of Crown Investments Corporations. The NDP has carried out a piecemeal privatization of the Crown utility corporations, the introduction of public-private-partnership programs, and has increased contracting out. Since 1982, the number of government employees has fallen from 12,000 to 9,000. Environmental protection services have been hit hard by budget cuts. At the municipal level, the lack of city planning has enhanced urban sprawl and the changes brought by large shopping centres and box stores. Deregulation has promoted more monopoly control by large transnational corporations.

(3) Agriculture and rural development. The NDP government endorsed the closing of grain elevators, the abandonment of branch RR lines and the construction of large elevators. It strongly supported the move by the management of the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool to become a private grain company raising capital on the stock market. It expressed no opposition to the move by Archer Daniel Midland to take over UGG and the Alberta and Manitoba pools. It welcomed the expansion into Saskatchewan of foreign agribusiness giants Cargill, ConAgra and Dreyfus. It abolished the GRIP program to assist farmers in need. It abolished the hog marketing board and has actively promoted, supported and financed corporate hog megabarns. It has provided large subsidies and other supports for the huge foreign-owned chemical corporations developing genetically engineered crops. It gave additional grants to Intercontinental Packers and then stood aside as it was bought out by U.S. giant Smithfield Foods. It gave Cargill a grant to build an oilseed crushing plant. The NDP announced it would put up 40 percent of the capital to help Broe Industries of Denver to establish four ethanol plants in the province.

(4) Northern development. In spite of promises made while in opposition, the NDP government has refused to share resource royalties with the Aboriginal communities in northern Saskatchewan. Northern development centres on the extraction and export of uranium, owned and controlled by two corporations, Cogema and Cameco, both heavily subsidized. U.S. giant Weyerhaeuser bought MacMillan Blodel, a move endorsed by the NDP government. The new Forest Resources Management Act grants the forest giant access to over 12 million acres of forest land with virtually no regulation or monitoring by public servants. Royalties are minuscule, far smaller than the costs of maintaining the forest. Massive clear cutting remains the mode of wood extraction. The NDP has refused to implement the principles of the Forest Stewardship Council.

(5) Downsizing social programs. With the cuts to government revenues, it was inevitable that programs would be slashed. Spending on K-12 and higher education was cut. There was a major streamlining of health services, cuts to the budget, and a decentralization of services with a centralization of budgeting power. The minimum wage fell to one of the lowest in Canada. Basic social assistance rates were frozen. Food bank dependence increased. The one exception to downsizing has been the corrections services. The province has the highest crime rate in Canada, and it also has the highest rate of incarceration. It has the highest rate of youth incarceration. Unemployed Aboriginal people fill the jails.

(6) The environment. The NDP government abolished the Tory’s Energy Options Panel, and in 1995 abolished the Saskatchewan Energy Conservation and Development Authority. They had both produced studies advocating soft energy paths rather than the use of coal. The NDP opposed the 1997 Kyoto conference on global warming, refused to send a delegation, and announced that only voluntary guidelines were necessary to deal with global warming and climate change. Recently, the NDP government has been refurbishing coal generating plants rather than introduce energy conservation and efficiency measures. Water pollution remains a serious problem outside major urban centres. While the NDP government has been praised by the Fraser Institute, it has regularly been given a failing grade by the Sierra Club and the Pembina Institute.

John W. Warnock teaches sociology and political economy at the University of Regina. This is an extract from a longer paper to be released soon by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Saskatchewan. Warnock is the candidate for the New Green Alliance in Regina Elphinstone-Centre for the November 5, 2021 election.