Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Leadership 2013 Roundup

With a couple of weeks' worth of developments to address, I'll take a slightly higher-level look at the Saskatchewan NDP leadership race than I normally do. (And for those worried about missing out, note that we should have an opportunity to revisit new issues in detail as the debate schedule gets underway this weekend.)

Most significantly, Trent Wotherspoon released three new policy statements, covering the environment, health and the economy. Most of Wotherspoon's proposals can be safely classified as safe but effective statements of non-controversial policy within the NDP, but his small business tax proposals sets up what may be the first stark policy contrast of the campaign: where Erin Weir has suggested that corporate tax rates should be applied to more small business income in order to leave room for incentives for investment and hiring, Wotherspoon's economic plan proposes to eliminate corporate taxes altogether on earnings up to $100,000.

Weir also introduced his labour policy - which goes beyond restoring the law as it stood prior to the Saskatchewan Party's attacks on workers, but also includes additional steps to ensure that collective bargaining achieves fair results with a minimal amount of disruption:
He is calling for Saskatchewan to adopt legislation enabling either management or the union to apply for binding interest arbitration to resolve strikes or lock-outs that last more than 90 days. Such legislation has proven effective in Manitoba since it was enacted in 2004.
“Prohibiting replacement workers during legal strikes and lock-outs would also make these disputes less acrimonious,” said Weir. “Such anti-scab legislation would ensure that employers have an incentive to bargain in good faith rather than using replacements for 90 days until they can request arbitration.”
Weir would implement a construction tendering policy to prevent contractors from undercutting wages negotiated through the Provincial Building and Construction Trades Council.
Weir also pointed out a spike in self-employment at the same time that actual jobs were lost in Saskatchewan - which at the very least raises serious questions as to whether the Sask Party is ensuring that a temporary boom provides as little security as possible for workers.

Ryan Meili responded to the Sask Party's liquor privatization plans with a focus on the social nature of problems caused by alcohol abuse (as found by the Parkland Institute and CCPA):
A couple of important points to keep in mind when weighing the government's recent actions:

Privatizing liquor sales leads to higher levels of alcohol consumption, which brings with it a host of social costs while increasing the burden on the health care and justice systems. Alberta, which became the first Canadian jurisdiction to privatize liquor sales in 1993, has the highest per-capita liquor consumption, while B.C., which began introducing private liquor stores in 2003, has higher-than-average consumption rates.

Private liquor stores replace quality, full-time jobs with low-paying, part-time jobs. "The studies agree there are more workers in liquor retail [in Alberta post-privatization], but they work fewer hours, have fewer benefits, and lower salaries than did Alberta government workers. So workers, by and large, are not better off."
Finally, Cam Broten offered his response to Scott's candidate questionnaire. And it's particularly interesting to contrast Broten's immediate priorities (which revolve entirely around party-building) against the policy issues he'd plan to tackle upon winning government. That hints at a noteworthy commitment to public engagement for its own sake on the path toward government - but may also provide fodder for the other candidates to question whether meaningful party-building is possible without highlighting issues as rallying points.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:07 p.m.

    To all,

    If he approaches "liquor privatization" correctly, the next Sask. NDP leader could reach many beyond the party & make an impression in the province.

    Meili is too much of an academic to realize the potent element lurking inside this argument: "Privatizing liquor sales leads to higher levels of alcohol consumption, which brings with it a host of social costs while increasing the burden on the health care and justice systems.".

    If such an argument is translated correctly, an NDP leader could make a successful appeal to the populations socially conservative (small "c") instincts.

    The political class has come to understand "social conservatism" as a political movement dedicated to sexual repression.

    Rather, it is a very human inclination towards order & prudence. It cherishes no political party, and welcomes any sincere appeal.

    On the issue of liquor privatization, Brad Wall & his "Sask Party" are in close embrace with Satan himself. They are overly gleeful about the wider distribution & exploitation of what is essentially...a drug.

    An NDP leader could successfully argue for the status quo, based on its promotion of moderation & dignity. He could also successfully paint his rivals as juvenile radicals out to degrade society for a quick buck.

    Dan Tan