Call this one ‘Budget’ is a dirty word, part 3 … or ‘Brad and Brian revisited’.
Brad Wall has been Premier of Saskatchewan for almost ten years, and despite the collapse of world prices for oil and potash, his ‘approval’ rating is still remarkably high.
Ah but after this week’s provincial budget, he might want to hide for a while at the hacienda of his good buddy, Brian Pallister in Costa Rica. The Saskatchewan budget included something to hurt and offend just about everyone, including a tax increase, just like the one that killed Greg Selinger, Mr. Pallister’s NDP predecessor in Manitoba.
Provincial Sales Tax has a strange history on the prairies. Before the election of 2007 in Saskatchewan that brought Mr. Wall to power, NDP Premier Lorne Calvert had dropped the PST down to 5%, at about the same time that Stephen Harper was reducing the GST in Ottawa. Saskatchewan really didn’t need the money in Brad’s first couple of years, because world prices were wonderfully high for just about everything that the province produced. Who could have guessed that the roof would cave in quite so soon?
Wall hates deficits more than any provincial leader in this country, and he’s determined that the one in this week’s budget – $1.3 billion – will be gone within three years. Good luck Mr. Premier.
In Manitoba, Pallister and company will do their budget thing on April 11th, and it’s certain to be an occasion that will not generate very many smiles. Brian is not saying much about when the books might balance in Manitoba, and there’s nary a whisper about when he might drop Manitoba’s PST back to 7%, down from the 8% that Greg Selinger left behind.
Pallister’s deficit, which he blames completely on Selinger, is just under a billion dollars. Meanwhile, over in Alberta, Premier Rachel Notley of the NDP has just rung up a deficit of $10 billion.
Are you wondering when she might start charging a provincial sales tax?
Try ‘never’ , or maybe when hell freezes over.
Weird economics to be sure.
I’m Roger Currie