IMAGINE THE TRUTH
Your magazine's "On Track" article noted that it's not "entirely fair" to call me a liar when I told your reporter that our interest in resource royalties was not about the upcoming provincial election. In fact, I think it's not at all fair.
Simply put, I would have happily told your reporter that we are running an election campaign for our membership - as is allowable under the Elections Act. And it's not the "Imagine What We Could Do" campaign.
Our election campaign is called "Vote for Yourself". It's a non-partisan campaign of real information which urges CUPE's 30,000 members in Saskatchewan to ask questions of their candidates on issues like privatization and their pensions before they go to the polls.
You're more than welcome to check out the content of this campaign - all of which is online - at www.cupe.sk.ca/election2011.
Although this campaign is aimed at CUPE members, I would encourage your readers to talk to candidates prior to Nov. 7; by voting for a candidate who represents your views on issues which matter to you, you're voting for yourself.
President, CUPE Saskatchewan
ROYALTY HIKES WILL WRECK PROSPERITY
After reading the article "On Track" in the July 14 prairie dog, I have a question for the CUPEs and SGEUs: where was your voice in 2007 when the Lorne Calvert NDP government put in place the current royalty structure and tax incentive schemes? When people rattle off the $1.6 billion /$77 million dollar numbers, I always like to ask them if they know what those two figures were for 2007 and 2008. I like to ask them if they are aware that one reason why the current number is so low is because companies like PCS prepaid a part of their estimated future royalties, which happened to be greatly overestimated when that future actually arrived, and thus our government had to transfer cash back.
When it comes to royalty rates, why don't NDP supporters put a little honesty into their demands? Why don't they say, "Premier Wall, stop advocating royalty structures put in place by the previous NDP government!" (Also, why do they have to imply all of PCS's profits come from Saskatchewan? The reality is, of that $1.6 billion, $1 billion came from SK mining operations.)
Mr. Calvert's government put in place a scheme that allowed potash companies to divert royalty revenue into expansion and creation projects which, as the thought goes, will add more jobs and royalties for the province. Now NDP fundraisers and politicians are whining about it. Anything to get in the news, I guess?
I also have to wonder if I live in a different city than Ms. Petry, who was also interviewed in the article. Around Regina I've never seen as many self-employed people earning good money before. When was the last time our unemployment and bankruptcy rates were so low? When have provincial revenue streams ever been so large, even adjusted for inflation? Anyone who owned a home prior to 2005, and I suspect this is the majority, have seen the value of these assets double. Much of this has happened because potential big money has attracted big business, and big business needs little businesses and employees to flourish.
The idea that big corporations are hauling away all the money and leaving scraps for us is nonsense. Myself, my friends, my parents, all are more "On Track" now than we were six years ago, I can tell you that. And when I "Imagine" higher royalty rates, I picture the Saskatchewan I left.
CHUGGING DOWN THE WRONG CHOO-CHOO TRACK
If Saskatchewan is steaming forward, "On Track," then people like me are tied to the track and being mowed down.
Your "Track Attack" article didn't address what I think is a salient issue, which is where this track is headed. What do the collective chambers of commerce believe will be the result of how our resource-rich province IS handling the money?
The paycheques from my three jobs haven't increased enough to keep up with inflation (even though two of my jobs are unionized). I continue to have three jobs instead of one because a single job couldn't possibly feed my four wonderful kids plus register them for karate classes.
My family is staring down a future of privatized or two-tier health care in Saskatchewan (Surgeries in mini-malls? Really?!), no support services for average families (since the Wall government saved up for his budget by cutting things like the Children's Dental Sealant Program) and an ever-growing gap between people like me and people like Brad Wall.
The track we're on is one which terminates at a Bush-style free-market province in which businesses will be big and powerful and no one will be able to shop at them but big, powerful, rich people - of which I expect there to be very few.
If the chambers of commerce in this province want to do some good for the businesses they represent, I suggest they support a plan which ensures that people like me can afford to shop at businesses like their members'.
DON'T BASH YOUNG PEOPLE
I'd like to respond to Linda Channing's letter in the July 14-27 issue. Linda claimed youth are spoiled and entitled. I am deeply offended by her characterization of youth as being "unwilling to try and make a difference" because "[it's] easier to be a useless idiot and blame everything on someone or something else."
Her negative generalization of young people is an unproductive distraction from John Conway's discussion of the issues young people face.
I could introduce to Linda so many young people that are just the opposite of her description. Instead, I'll let her know my personal experience as a recent graduate who is underemployed and barely making ends meet. In the spring, I completed my bachelor's degree in political science with high honours. I've applied to dozens of jobs and have been unable to even get an interview. I realize that straight out of school one cannot expect a dream job or even a job related to your field, so I have been applying for everything from receptionist positions, clerical and data entry, hotel hospitality - really anything.
You may think the problem is that I have a poor resume or no experience in job searching. However I planned ahead for that as well. During my degree, I completed three work terms under the Cooperative Education Program to gain this experience. Now I work two part-time, minimum-wage jobs and cannot pay my bills despite the hard work I put in over the last five years. The icing on the cake for young people is the older generations complaining about "kids these days."
Linda claims young people want a big house and fancy car before paying our dues. All I want is a decent job so I don't have to move back to my hometown and live with my parents.