Saskatchewan - Commentaries
Saskatchewan Environment Minister Nancy Heppner just upgraded a terrible policy goal to simply bad. Prior to the 2007 election, her Saskatchewan Party pledged to uphold the NDP's target of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Thankfully, however, Heppner recently abandoned the plan that would have reduced GHGs by 32 per cent by 2020, noting it would have placed “a pretty heavy burden on industry.” If only it had ended there.
In 2004, company officials said the risk was too great to even think about. But on November 19 last year it happened anyway. Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) started its first new route in 30 years. Since then, four times a week, a bus spends 14 hours on the road making the 1,136 km round trip from Prince Albert to La Loche, population 3,000. Unfortunately, the route is doomed to add to STC’s ever-increasing losses.
So, just how did this happen? Access to information requests by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation help tell the tale.
No one, save the Saskatchewan Government Employees Union (SGEU), can tell us why the government should still be in the liquor store business. Since when do citizens elect politicians to sell them booze?
Well, since prohibition ended, actually. The 1925 version of harm reduction made liquor legal again—but only in government stores. Call it political inertia, but apart from some timid tinkering, that policy has remained intact the 84 years since.
It’s been some years since we heard about tax revolts in Saskatchewan. However, if Fred Weekley has his way, those days may soon return. Mr. Weekley, mayor of the District of Katepwa, publicly suggested that, illegal or not, withholding school taxes may be called for.
In recent months, the Saskatchewan government has made three small but significant changes in how it relates to the private sector. Fortunately, the announcements of less government investment in the economy, the introduction of semi-private specialty wine stores, and more public-private partnerships were positive developments for taxpayers.
Few people today realize that income tax was introduced in Canada in 1917 as a temporary war measure. The finance minister at the time, Sir Thomas White, called the bill the War Tax Upon Income Bill, reflecting the hope that this bill would be repealed once the war was over. Almost 100 years later, Canadians still pay income tax.