Saturday, October 17, 2020

On limiting partnerships

I haven't spent much time discussing the smaller parties in Saskatchewan's provincial election, and I don't see much basis to think any of them will be in serious competition to win any seats. But it is worth pointing out how a few aspects of their platforms fit into Saskatchewan's political picture - particularly as they may hint at weak spots for the Saskatchewan Party.

While the NDP has focused directly on the Sask Party's propensity for sending public money to out-of-province operators and workers, both the PCs and the Buffalo Party focus in on one of the possible causes of that trend in promising to leave the New West Trade Partnership. And that rejection of an existing regional trade deal is of course particularly striking in the case of a party whose primary message is one of western independence: even a party whose core goal is to be more closely tied to the West generally doesn't see the NWTPA as a desirable mechanism for that purpose.

Since the issue hasn't received a lot of recent attention, though, it's worth offering a reminder at how the NWTPA came to be.

The NWTPA itself is a repackaged version of the TILMA, a monstrosity of a deal cooked up between British Columbia and Alberta. 

The Calvert NDP government engaged in consultations as to Saskatchewan's position on the deal when it was first developed. And not only was it convinced to avoid the TILMA by strong local opposition, but even the Saskatchewan Party was forced to agree not to sign on.

Of course, once Brad Wall took power, he got away with slapping a new title on the same agreement - with the effect of severely limiting the ability of any provincial body to take Saskatchewan's interests into account in procurement and policy-making when a corporation thinks it could make more money off a different choice. And since then, the NWTPA has served as one of the excuses for the Sask Party's habit of shipping money out of province.

Based on that history, the NDP's opposition to the NWTPA (and the contrast between it and the Sask Party) is well-established. And the NDP's plans to boost local procurement may imply taking a critical look at structures developed to prevent that type of choice. 

That means that to the extent voters anywhere on the political spectrum recognize the problems with the NWTPA, they'll find that concern well represented by one of the leading parties, rather than needing to support the PCs or Buffalo Party to be heard. And we'll have far more space to discuss a full range of policy choices once we break the habit of letting foreign corporate interests limit the terms of our public debate.

No comments:

Post a Comment