Friday, November 2, 2012

Campaign Update: Trent Wotherspoon

 Trent's Website: LINK

Moving right along, today also saw the release of another policy plank from Trent Wotherspoon. Referred to as "Putting People First in a Prosperous Saskatchewan", the plan is summarized as a blueprint to capture Saskatchewan's economic prosperity for all.

Included at the top of the post is the link to the page, so you can take a look at what Trent has to say and the plan there, and we'll go over the planks here as well. So, let's dive in and take a look at the proposals.

The first plank revolves around creating a thriving small business economy. Trent's plan calls for the creation of the Saskatchewan Small Business Development Corporation (managed by a board of business experts) to provide venture capital, matching grants and loans to small businesses in strategic areas (film & culture, renewable energy, tourism, etc.) and support for business succession in rural Saskatchewan and small communities.

The plan also calls the elimination of the small business tax on the first $100,000 of income, working with arts & cultural industries with the province and restoring the Film Tax Credit, establish a Council on Agriculture to monitor input costs and provide recommendations for when costs increase, support the clustering of similar businesses in a single geographic area by enhancing infrastructure and providing incentives.

Furthermore, work with business communities to establish new centres of excellence on our universities and colleges that are focused on innovation, including the creation of an Aboriginal Economic Development Centre of Excellence (which would affirm Aboriginal culture and recognize the social and economic value of educational outcomes and labour participation of the Aboriginal community, and provide leadership, direction and action.) Finally, to create conditions that allow small business to thrive and fosters a strong middle-class, which would start by the implementation of Trent's plans on poverty and education reform.

The second plank revolves around strengthening and modernizing our Crown Corporations. Trent's plan calls for an end to the SK Party's "Saskatchewan First" investment restriction on the crowns and calls for Crowns to be allowed operate with greater independence through the use of a sound business model. The creation of a maximum dividend structure to protect the crowns against dividend 'raids'. Finally, the creation of a Triple Bottom Line that focuses on: People, Environment, and Finances.

The third plank focuses on protecting the middle class and the working rights of all Saskatchewan residents, new and old. Trent's plan calls for the immediate repealing of Bills 5, 6, 43, and 80. The expansion of the number of Occupational Health and Safety (OH&S) officers, the re-establishment of the Farm Safety Council, and including farm workers in Victims of Work Place Injuries Day of Mourning Act. A review of employer dominant unions and pseudo-unions, support constitutionalization of labour rights, and work with the federal government to provide enhanced parental leave benefits for the self-employed and small business owners and employees.

The plan recalls Trent's education and poverty reforms on providing an aggressive training and hiring program for Aboriginal youth, workers and communities, newcomers to Saskatchewan, and women in a non-traditional field. The plan furthers development for newcomers to Saskatchewan by calling for improved immigrant settlement services, fair immigration laws through consultation, work to achieve a grandfathering provision to recent changes in the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program, and better education for immigrants regarding their labour rights coupled with a Temporary Foreign Worker Advocate.

Finally, embark on a balanced and inclusive approach to labour law through the creation of a Labour-Business Council, that will bring together labour, business, and government to provide input in the crafting of policy.

The fourth plank focuses on investment in Saskatchewan infrastructure, namely roads and highways. Trent's plan calls for a Northern Saskatchewan Road Building Strategy, that would enhance access to northern areas while also providing employment, skills training, and greater safety. Re-establish the Calvert Government's Roads to Prosperity program to build year-round access roads to resources, communities, and First Nations reserves. Finally, increase the capacity of public road crews and re-instate public inspection of road building.

The fifth plank focuses on fair resource rates and development. Trent's plan calls for the re-development of a sovereign wealth fund, similar to the Blakeney Heritage Fund, to ensure non-renewable resource wealth affects future generations. Finally, the establishment of an independent body of resource experts to hold public hearings, conduct reviews, and make public recommendations every two years to provincial cabinet on the state (and fairness) of the current royalty rate and ensure that the people of Saskatchewan are receiving a fair return.

Certainly a lot of information to take in there, and some interesting policy ideas as well. I'm a bit fuzzy on these 'centres of excellence' to be established on campus, and will ask Trent about them when I see him next, and hopefully clear up any confusion about what exactly their goal is and be sure to pass it along here on the blog.

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