Tuesday, September 13, 2011

On nuclear testing

One of the obvious questions facing Saskatchewan voters in the lead up to this fall's election is that of how much credit (if any) Brad Wall and his government should be able to claim for economic gains based mostly on favourable resource prices. So let's take a look at a couple of ways of testing whether the Sask Party has had anything at all to do with Saskatchewan's success.

For now, let's consider how Wall has done when it comes to the single industry that his government has made its top priority from day one.

In its 2007 platform, the Sask Party singled out uranium development as its most-touted industry. It followed that up by paying $3 million to have the sector develop a wish list as to how the province could hand it money and resources. And after public consultations pointed out plenty of concerns with those plans, it extended a middle finger to the citizens who disagreed with the push for nuclear development.

So has that willingness to ignore public opinion in favour of what business wants translated into economic gains?

Well, uranium exploration and development...is down by half from the level it reached under the NDP (and in the final year before the Sask Party's Uranium Development Partnership started defining the industry's future).

The Sask Party was reluctantly forced to put off nuclear power for now - though I'm sure we can count on a second term seeing some effort to dust off Bruce Power's proposal to contract out another chunk of Saskatchewan's power needs. And its efforts to lobby the Harper Cons for an isotope reactor were soundly rejected.

So after four years under Brad Wall's watch, the industry he singled out for its private-sector growth potential has seen somewhere between zero and negative progress - at least other than a smattering of publicly-funded research projects.

Which should make it glaringly clear that what's going right for Saskatchewan at the moment has precious little to do with anything the Sask Party has done.

Update: See also (via Jaime Garcia).

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