Privatization Poker: Monday’s Medium-Stakes Fight Over Casinos Regina And Moose Jaw

Politics-casino privatization scrum_small
Photo by Darrol Hofmeister, sharpshooter photography

As reported on CBC, in the Leader-Post and CJME, and mentioned earlier on Dog Blog, a plan by the provincial government to sell Casino Regina and Casino Moose Jaw fell apart today.

Fell apart? More like fell off a motorcycle, landed on a banana peel, bounced over a hedge and face-planted in a pile of yellow snow.

It was an epic wipe-out, and it left everybody mad at everyone else.

The drama started this morning after the Opposition NDP sent out a media alert saying that the Saskatchewan Party government had negotiated a memorandum of understanding to sell the casinos to the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations — and that the NDP had been in the loop on this development for a couple of weeks.

NDP leader Cam Broten said that because the M.O.U. between the government and the FSIN was only brought to the Opposition’s attention two weeks ago; and because details of the sale are not yet determined; and becauuuse the whole affair gave him an icky feeling in his tummy (that’s just a guess); the NDP would NOT give the government the pass it wanted on following privatization rules laid out by the Crown Corporations Public Ownership Act.

“We were given a very clear ultimatum,” said Broten at a 1 p.m. press scrum. “We needed to support this legislation being fast-tracked in the spring sitting in order for this M.O.U. to go ahead. And that’s a position in violation of the Crown Ownership Act, which has been supported by Mr. Wall — when he voted for it, and in two elections.”

“Selling Crowns is an important matter, because the benefits are for everyone in the province,” added Broten. “And to fast-track, to be pressured to urgently pass legislation in violation of the Crown Ownership Act — that game is not on. I will not agree to do that.”

In a second scrum just over an hour later, Premier Brad Wall painted a different picture of the NDP’s role in l’affair casino incroyable.

“I’ve listened to Mr. Broten’s scrum; it is full of things that frankly aren’t true,” said the premier. “And you don’t have to take my word for it, because Chief [Perry] Bellegarde was dealing with him and his party as well.”

Well, nyah nyah nyah!

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Sask Party Selling Casinos: NDP

From the Leader-Post:

It appears the provincial government is cashing in its chips and selling Casino Regina and Casino Moose Jaw. According to a news release from the NDP this morning, the government has made a deal to sell the two casinos to the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority. NDP leader Cam Broten is calling on the government to release the full details of its agreement and says he will not support the rushed, secret deal to sell valuable public assets.

This seems like a worthy public debate to have, since there’s something awful about governments profiting from casinos, which are a blatant tax on the poor. Maybe this particular alleged privatization is for the best. I dunno. We’ll have to wait and see what the details are.

That said, I think everyone remembers that the Saskatchewan Party vowed they wouldn’t privatize crowns, but they’ve been selling off public assets since they got elected. Only a naive child would believe that SaskTel isn’t on the hit list, too. Oh, not today. But as soon as it’s politically possible. Maybe after they win their third term. Just watch.

It’s all about permanently weakening government, right? Starving it of revenues so it can’t do interesting things like bring in universal daycare, public dental care or low tuition. A weak government can’t defend ordinary citizens from business interests.

And that probably sounds good to some people.

Of course, as voters we have a say in government. We don’t have a say in private business. But this no-say future seems to be the future people want.

It’s a mistake.