In a last minute attempt to lob the ball into the other court, Stephen Harper stood up in the House of Commons to suggest that the Liberals were responsible for annoying robocalls; citing the use of an American firm in North Dakota to place the calls during the last election. The Liberals quickly denied the claims, and the media eventually revealed the truth: The Conservatives had confused a similarly named Canadian company with the one in North Dakota.
As such, there should be an apology from Harper tomorrow...Or he'll continue to put his fingers in his ears and hum loudly to himself; or he'll pull a Vic Toews and say that he never said such a thing in the first place. Effectively, this robocall scandal is not going away anytime soon; and such a flimsy attempt by the Conservatives to cast suspicion on an opposition party shows just how desperate they are to shift the blame.
Also, a Quebec journalist is suggesting that the Conservatives may have reused the in-and-out campaign financing that got them in electoral hot water earlier in this last election. Several candidates have said that they provided money to the national campaign from that was chalked up to their riding coffers; that they provided money to the party and did not receive any services for the money that was provided. If these accusation are true (let's not forget, the Conservatives pled guilty to this type of behaviour before and made a plea bargain to avoid jail time for several top Conservatives, some of whom were involved in the last federal campaign as well.)
So, two potential scandals boiling under the Conservatives; we'll see how that turns out for them. I get the feeling that if the in-and-out accusation is true, Elections Canada will not take a plea bargain this time for it.
And that brings us to focus on a provincial issue, even though the federal issues have been dominating the news for the past few days.
Premier Brad Wall has come out and announced that the upcoming budget will be an 'austerity budget' and that we can expect to see some 'cuts' included in the financial document. Wall is attempting to say that the cuts are proactive, rather than reactive, but there's a problem with that.
Governments don't slash spending willy-nilly; rather, there is always a reason. Most times, it has to do with a question of cost and affordability. But, according to the Wall Government, Saskatchewan is booming and our economy has 'never been stronger'. So, the question of affordability is a moot point.
The second reason governments cut spending is due to ideological perspectives; look at the federal government who has more or less shut down Canada's Arctic Research Station, by denying it the $1.3 million needed to keep it operational. There is no question that this was ideologically motivated, as the station was used to study and prove the effects of global climate change.
Need more proof? Its come out that Jim Flaherty and the Federal Finance Ministry has spent over $12 million dollars promoting the upcoming budget. So, in a time of austerity, our government is spending $12 million to publicize an event that doesn't actually need advertising; while slashing spending to anything that challenges the government's ideological perspective.
So, are Wall's coming cuts ideological in nature? Well, that depends on what cuts end up coming when the budget is brought down.
What is more likely, is something we've been saying for years: The Wall Government has mismanaged our provincial finances and there needs to be some drastic spending cuts in order to keep that information from fully coming public.
Let's look at the facts to support that. Wall and team talked about paying down Saskatchewan's debt; when in reality they have added more to the debt then they have paid off. Furthermore, by reporting only certain accounts and not others, this government has been able to make those claims without the well informed knowing that the government is only presenting half the picture to the citizens of the province.
That's why there's still a debate going on over how the province presents its financial statements and the accounts that it presents when it makes its claims about paying down the debt and running a surplus.
When Grant Devine left office, no one knew just how bad the economic situation in Saskatchewan was until the opposition opened up the books and saw for themselves. We've been climbing out of that hole since the early 90s, and Saskatchewan can not afford to fall back into it again.