Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Campaign Update: Erin Weir

Moving along to Erin Weir.

The bulk of the information coming from the Weir Campaign thus far this week has been revolving around the early strategy of taking the fight directly to the government. Primarily, Erin has been busy challenging the current government's numbers on manufacturing in the province; but also on responding to the Premier's latest plan for the development of Saskatchewan's future.

Let's start with the manufacturing numbers.

Saskatchewan posted a 11.3% increase in sales for the month of August, but month to month sales languished below the national average at 0.8%. And while the government is touting these numbers, Erin has gone to challenge the complexities behind them.

For the second time in the campaign, Erin has called attention to the fact that manufacturing jobs in the province are on the decline. Erin points to the 32,000 manufacturing jobs that existed in 2007, to 26,500 in September 2012, a decrease of 5,500 jobs.

Adding his voice to this is Doug Elliot, of Sask Motor Trends, who agrees that employment in manufacturing has lagged behind the development of sales in the sector. Elliot points out that the bulk of manufacturing firms in the province are working 'below capacity' and are bumping part-time workers to full-time in order to adapt. (LINK)

Erin was also in Prince Albert this week, where he touted his plans to close loopholes across the board to increase provincial revenues. He also used the opportunity to add his support to the development of a second bridge in Prince Albert, calling it a 'major provincial priority.' (LINK)

Erin also took time this week to directly challenge Brad Wall's "Plan for Growth", presented Tuesday to the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce. Buckdog has a good posting of what Erin had to say directly, (LINK), and we'll also talk a bit about the comments here.

Firstly, on Wall's plan to reduce the corporate tax rate from 12% to 10%, Erin called it out as a multimillion dollar tax giveaway to companies. He pointed to the failure of lower tax rates in other provinces to spur on investment, and instead restated his plan to initiate tax credits and rebates based on investment within the province.

He also called attention to the fact that this plan would result in zero net benefit to Saskatchewan, while sending tax dollars flowing into the USA. Erin pointed out that repatriating taxes to the US is reliant on a 35% tax rate, minus the amount paid in Canadian/Saskatchewan tax. Companies currently pay a federal-provincial tax of 27% (12% SK, 15% Federal); and lowering the tax rate would mean more tax dollars are spent in the US for revenues raised in Saskatchewan.

Could there be a more perfect argument for not dropping the rate?

Erin also attacked Wall's commitment to a Heritage Fund, which was brought forward by the NDP last election, since Wall's plan doesn't seem to be on par with achieving that goal. Erin points out that Wall's plan will reduce revenues, which means less money to pay off the debt which is the first requirement in Wall's creation of the fund in the first place.

Finally, Erin questioned Wall's commitment to seeking out Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) given that the Premier is also fond of touting Saskatchewan's AAA Credit Rating. Rightly, Erin has pointed out that the government can fund projects at low interest rates due to their rating; and that entering a partnership with a private partner would result in higher costs and higher interest rates.

Effectively, Erin has rightly challenged the Premier on a lot of key issues here, and I think he's done so rather well. As I've pointed out before, Erin's campaign has been pretty quick to forge his candidacy directly against Brad Wall by challenging the government at every opportunity. And Erin's quick response to Wall's plan continues strongly in that campaign mindset.

Not only has Erin been able to challenge Wall's initiatives, but he's been able to do so with well reasons arguments and clear facts that the plans being presented are more detrimental than helpful. As a campaign narrative, it's a pretty good route to take, and one that Erin seems comfortable walking.

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