Tuesday, June 30, 2020

On backward thinking

I've previously discussed the telling social budget which saw Scott Moe prioritize golf and pedicures over human well-being. But even if we look only at the Saskatchewan Party's pre-election fiscal budget, that too speaks volumes about a painfully warped set of priorities - even before Moe goes into slash-and-burn mode if he gets the chance after an election.

At the outset, it's worth noting that governments have had a choice where to put their dollars in responding to COVID-19. And the Saskatchewan Party chose to be exceptionally stingy among Canadian provinces in keeping people and local businesses afloat - while offering up an unusually high money for infrastructure spending in areas where the effect of COVID-19 was relatively light.

Even if a government was bent on infrastructure spending, though, few infrastructure expenses could possibly be less forward-thinking than a bevy of passing lanes which increase carbon pollution by encouraging more highway traffic travelling at higher speeds. But that's the centrepiece of Moe's capital plan. (And any argument about safety rings hollow given that Moe is simultaneously taking steps to eliminate regulations and licensing requirements.)

Likewise, one could hardly imagine a big-ticket capital expense with less social value than a $120 million remand centre - especially when the Saskatchewan Party has been forced to somewhat acknowledge the pointlessness of avoidable incarceration. Yet Scott Moe has chosen to spend more on that than on capital expenses for the province's entire education system.

And I've already highlighted the folly of betting on nuclear power as an industry of choice, in the face of both strong public disapproval and a glaring lack of any plausible path to success.

While there's certainly reason for concern in the Saskatchewan Party's determination to destroy much of Saskatchewan's commonwealth, there's no more reason for confidence in the few areas they've chosen to prioritize in spending public money. And we'll pay the price for a long time to come if we don't put somebody more forward-thinking in charge to chart the course toward recovery.

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