by Graham Lane
Published in the Winnipeg Sun, March 29, 2018
Ontario’s PCs have an excellent chance to push the exhausted Wynne Liberals aside after a lengthy scandal-ridden rule. Doug Ford will scrap Wynne’s carbon dioxide tax, joining Saskatchewan, New Brunswick and Alberta (when Kenny becomes premier), spelling a chaotic end to Trudeau’s climate tax grab. Meanwhile, Manitoba’s hapless Pallister Government stumbles along with its carbon tax plans, hitting consumers and industry with more expensive energy, supposedly to save us all from a ludicrous thing called the “Climate Crisis”.
The Pallister Carbon Tax (PCT) will deliver more play money for bureaucrats, and become a handy source of electoral slush funds. In the upcoming carbon tax central planning hodge-podge, primary agriculture will be exempted. But, it’s a shell game – for example, farmers’ hired trucking will be subject to the tax. And, there remains a huge question for how Manitoba’s fertilizer and chloride plants will be treated long-term, such are the self-flagellating non-problems of green central planning.
When it comes to suffocating opportunity for nothing, the PCT puts another avoidable nail into Manitoba’s coffin, likely driving a prospective soybean plant to Saskatchewan. Westman’s business leadership needs to visit the Premier and explain how his tax games jeopardize his PC electoral funding gravy train. In the last election, a PC fundraiser reputed personally raised sufficient donations to fund five riding campaigns. Not a chance in 2020.
Rural people need to join city folk and take off the gloves. Explain to Pallister just how vulnerable his leadership position is beyond last week’s hydro board meltdown debacle. While delivering a pea processing plant to Portage, he overlooks the rest of the province. Within the next 10 years, the Killarney-Turtle Mountain region was on track to secure over a billion of private sector investment. In the Virden area, there was hope for a comparable $1 billion of new private capital. And, in the Russell-Binscarth area, there is another $1 to $2 billion of private investment potential.
The investments would not require direct public subsidies, but need infrastructure investment in water supply, waste water treatment, natural gas supply and electrical systems (all essential infrastructure systems to enable communities to survive and thrive). Questions remain as to the clean water supply and waste water treatment for Portage’s pea and now expanded potato processing.
Instead of hidden tax increases (Hydro rate hikes and the PCT), Pallister should embrace a smart development agenda. The Deloitte report brought a devastating critique of the government’s incompetent industrial development process. It is fine to encourage home-based businesses and the artisan economy, but Manitoba needs to attract large-scale industrial investment.
Deloitte’s report highlights Pallister’s inept management of this major file (targeting significant investments).
“The province is unable to articulate a forward-looking vision for the Manitoba economy. As a result, industry, academia and peer governments are uncertain about how best to engage with the Government of Manitoba.”
Interviews with Manitobans said the Pallister government had:
– A “lack of vision”
– No framework for making economic development decisions
– No clear indication of what assistance is available to companies
– No plan to deal enhance “skills level and training of Manitoba’s labour force”
– A “lack of meaningful collaboration opportunities between industry and government”
This has to sting. What part of inept does Pallister not understand?