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Legislative Report (22 November 2006)

Legislative Report

22 November 2006

Another NDP Slush Fund

We saw it recently in the Weyburn-Big Muddy by-election – the Calvert government desperate to win the seat poured $4 million dollars into the City of Weyburn on the eve of the by-election in a last-ditch effort to buy votes. Well it looks like the NDP are up to their same old tricks – this time on a much larger scale.

Last week, the government released its mid-term financial report – a report that gives a snapshot of the state of the province’s finances halfway through the fiscal year. One surprise announcement was that the NDP was stashing away nearly a billion dollars into an election slush fund.

The NDP are claiming they are doing this to be more “transparent.” Well, it is transparent in that the people of this province are sure to see right through it to what it really is – a slush fund set up to buy votes before the next election. It’s clear this is a government desperate to stop its slide in the polls. With their popularity plummeting, the amount of money socked away to buy votes increases by a staggering amount.

One provincial economist has called the move a “parlour trick”; while the Provincial Auditor says the fund actually “obfuscates transparency”.

It looks like the NDP didn’t learn a thing from the Weyburn-Big Muddy by-election. Even after dangling a $4 million carrot in front of voters, the Saskatchewan Party trounced the NDP by capturing nearly 50 per cent of the popular vote. The NDP finished dead last with their worst showing ever right in the home of Tommy Douglas.

Also announced last week was a brand new, $100 million Building Communities Fund that can be accessed for capital projects like ice rinks, museums and other cultural or sporting projects. While at first glance this may seem like a good idea, the NDP government has failed to come up with any criteria for how to access this money. The government has been nothing but irresponsible to announce the money without any type of criteria in place.

When questioned by members of the Official Opposition in committee at the Legislature this week, NDP Culture, Youth and Recreation Minister Glenn Hagel could not provide a clear answer as to how communities are supposed to access the money. A recent editorial in the Saskatoon Star Phoenix entitled, “‘Hagel’s fund’ public paid electioneering,” gets right to the heart of the matter when it says, “In turning loose the perennially jolly Hagel to play Santa in a business suit, the targets will be venues with the potential to provide maximum political payback.”

The fact that we are on the eve of an election year, there’s now $100 million dollars available for capital projects across the province, but absolutely no criteria is all a bit suspect. It looks more like the NDP is trying to lift its sagging fortunes by buying votes leading up to the election.

If you have a question about this report or any other matter, just Contact Glen.

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