On St. Patrick’s Day, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce will host its State of the Province Address, featuring Brad Wall as guest speaker. (Sask Chamber of Commerce) Which is fine. That’s what the premier is supposed to do, and Lorne Calvert and Roy Romanow did it many times during their terms as premier. But when Brad Wall comes to speak, I can guarantee you that what Brad Wall says to Regina’s business community won’t matter as much as the fact that Brad Wall, leader of the Saskatchewan Party and Premier of Saskatchewan, is saying it.
There’s no way of sugar coating it: the provincial New Democratic Party can do whatever the business community wants — lower taxes, cut services, cut the minimum wage, build a domed stadium with a retractable roof, send the children down the mines — and the business community would still find reason to complain. It’s because of who’s doing it, not because of the message.
A friend of mine, who once took a kamikaze run for the Sask. Party in a suburban riding in the late 1990s, put it to me this way: Regina’s business community and right-of-centre politicians see the NDP like a case of Freudian projection: the business community secretly thinks that they are inadequate, so they subliminate that attitude and project it on the NDP. That’s why people who are supporting the proposed new domed stadium are smearing everybody who’s not on board — whether they’re opposed to it or, like me, have a lot of serious questions about the finances and sustainability of the project — as tree-hugging, pot smoking, Das Kapital-quoting left-wing pinkos. That’s even though the only real organized opposition to it, as of right now, comes from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, an organization about as socially progressive as … well, the Saskatchewan Party.
One thing Brad Wall certainly won’t be quizzed about on St. Patrick’s Day will be how the province will now have to give back as much as $200 million to the potash industry for over-estimating how much royalty money they were to collect in 2008-09. The Leader-Post’s Murray Mandryk, (LP) one of the few remaining voices of reason within the L-P, correctly notes that the province’s last two budgets now belong in the fiction category, and the province’s policy of letting potash companies pay royalties to the province on the honor system, is also now a joke.
So the Premier’s State of the Province address comes about on St. Paddy’s Day, it won’t be green beer that the people will be imbibing, but Sask. Party Kool-Aid. Sure, potash revenue is down, The books are no longer balanced, and there’s less reason than ever since 2007 that the government’s people care capable of minding the shop, but hey. It could be worse. The NDP might get in, and after Roy Romanow and Lorne Calvert doing ugly things like balancing the budget and paying down the accumulated debt, you know how bleak a time that was …