Friday, October 21, 2011

Scott Muses: Choose Your Saskatchewan

I'm still digesting the NDP platform release, as well as the announcements and headlines that have been made over the past week...I'm also dealing with one hell of a cold that is getting worse by the day and robbing me of a lot of free time and earmarked time for political involvement.

As such, this won't be a recap or facts post, but rather one of rather humdingers of an editorial. First thing, I'd like to thank The Jurist for his recent 'shout out' to my last post regarding the Sask Party's attack ad on Dwain Lingenfelter. As many of you are aware, a Nexen former CEO has stepped forward and said that Lingenfelter wouldn't have had the authority to make the decision to move the Wascana Energy office from Regina to Calgary. Despite this, the Sask Party continues to make their claims and have Bill Boyd suggesting that he was personally lobbied by Lingenfelter back in 2001...

Yes, because we're going to believe a man from the party who created the attack ad. Boyd either needs to produce some proof that Lingenfelter lobbied him back in 2001, or the Sask Party is going to have to let this issue come to a gentle rest...Though their current actions suggest that they plan on locking their jaws on this issue and putting fingers in their ears and humming very loudly when someone tries to tell them differently.

No word yet on the other points I made from that post; from either the mainstream media or the two parties, if only because they don't wish to dwell on this commercial any longer than we have to. But as stated before, that ad is filled with half-truths manipulated to sell a specific story; but when you have the full truth, the story becomes a very different thing altogether.

Now, I'd like to talk to you all for a moment about the future of our province...Since that seems to be the argument both political parties are focusing on. Hence, the name of this post. This election is about more than personality, it is indeed about choosing the road for Saskatchewan's future. Like the Robert Frost poem, we may find ourselves a few years older reflecting on the road not taken.

So, let's talk some substance, shall we?

In the slew of campaign releases, we have seen a very different approach between the NDP and the Saskatchewan Party in this election. The NDP has put forward programs and ideas, along with the means to pay for them. While the SK Party has introduced a series of 'mail-in rebates' (as I like to call them) that tend to only benefit people who can already afford an initial investment.

Allow me to explain on that one. For the most part, the SK Party has not really put forward any new initiatives or ideas in this campaign. And the ideas they have put forward, well, they usually leave a lot left to be desired. I say so because the SK Party has put forward ideas that are not having a major impact on the broad spectrum.

The majority of their spending promises comes in the form of tax rebates and credits. If you spend $____ on in this area, the government will give you $_____. A perfect example is the Registered Education Savings Plans, or RESPs. The SK Party will chip in an extra $250 if you max out a one year RESP to help pay for your child's college tuition in the future.

The problem with this is that there are many families in the province struggling to get by; and these families cannot afford to invest in RESPs, which leave them out in the cold. And then there's their consolation prize, a $2,000 one time scholarship for eligible high school graduates to put towards their college tuition.

How much does the SK Party think it costs to go to college? Well, allow me to inform you. I took 1 semester, or half a year, of university last year to get some prerequisites to a program I'm applying to. The cost of that half year was a $2,400. That means these eligible high school students aren't even getting enough to buy 1/2 a year of study at Saskatchewan universities. Keep in mind, that's only half a year. All in all, with textbooks, a student is likely to pay close to $5,200 a year for just a bachelor's program.

And that's not including cost of living (housing, food, clothes, etc.). So, this program is effectively useless as it provides no real help to those who are already struggling to pay to afford university.

This is in direct contrast to the NDP plan to put a freeze back on tuition (which the SK Party let die in 2007). Also, the NDP would raise the maximum allowed income of parents when children apply for Saskatchewan student loans (effectively, getting rid of the 'hell of the middle-ground' where parents are still too poor to be able to pay for their childrens' education, but too rich to qualify for government backed loans).

Effectively, what does this highlight?

What it highlights is the very different realities that NDP supporters and SK Party supporters exist in. The SK Party believes its own hype; that Saskatchewan is booming and everyone in the province is better off now than they were ten years ago. If that's true, then why was food bank usage up last year in our province? Why, to the best of my knowledge, did the Saskatoon food bank run out of food last Christmas?

Why are people in this province having to choose between having a roof over their head or food in their belly? Why are people having to choose between buying medications or making a home heating payment? Why are renters continuing to see massive rent increases, but no major building modifications to make their living atmosphere reflect the rent they are paying?

Saskatchewan is booming, in some regards, but not for everyone. And it's a reality that the SK Party refuses to accept.

Whereas the NDP is willing to say that things are going well, but they could be going better. Franklin Roosevelt once said, 'The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.' And that is the mindset the NDP is using.

Saskatchewan deserves to boom for everyone who lives here; not just those who already exist at the top. More needs to be done to make sure the people of Saskatchewan get to experience the best possible quality of life that can be afforded to them. The NDP wants this to be a reality for everyone in Saskatchewan; while the SK Party wants to help those who already have the means to help themselves.

As mentioned, this election is about choosing your Saskatchewan. You can live in the land of sunshine and lollipops the SK Party believes in; or you can accept reality, roll up your sleeves, and help make that delusion a reality.

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