Sunday, July 22, 2018

On public interests

Plenty of others have pointed out the most direct lie in Jason Kenney's attempt to blame Alberta's NDP for the decisions of an Ontario court dealing with Carillion's Canadian bankruptcy. But it's worth taking a look at the much more fundamental lie at the core of Kenney's complaint.

As mentioned in the very article linked to by Kenney, the privatization of Alberta's highway maintenance operations took place under his Conservative predecessors.

It was the PCs who put a high-risk foreign operator in charge of maintaining a wide swath of the province's highways in the first place (PDF) due to their distaste for public services. And they further put the public at Carillion's mercy (PDF) just in time for the corporate house of cards to come toppling down. 

In response, Alberta's NDP has been criticizing (PDF) the PC's determination to push public-sector austerity as an excuse for privatization, and calling for decisions about infrastructure to be made by and in the interests of citizens.

Needless to say, that fault line remains between the two parties. The NDP continues to want public services to function under public control for the benefit of citizens and local businesses alike. And Kenney continues to be determined to undermine public services by selling them off or exposing them to corporate competition or control at every turn.

Of course, neither Kenney nor his corporate backers are about to let the facts get in the way of an attack on Rachel Notley. But voters in Alberta (and elsewhere) should note that there's only way to avoid having the public interest turned into an afterthought in business proceedings - and that's to make sure Kenney and his ilk don't get to lock governments into privatization scams.

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