Tuesday, September 24, 2013

On sucker's bets

As the old saying goes, if you sit down at a poker table and can't spot the sucker, you're it.

And there shouldn't be much doubt that when the City of Regina sits down with an interconnected group of consultants and privatization advocates to decide who stands to be handed hundreds of millions of public dollars, the patsy won't be found in the group of corporate participants.

Of course, the original plan for a privatized wastewater treatment plant allowed for a slightly cleaner process. Instead allowing the public a seat at the table, the City originally planned to ante up to a high-stakes game with our money.

But fortunately, enough citizens insisted on having some say in the decision to force Council to allow us a referendum vote - a single chance to leave the table.

Which isn't to say the City has actually done anything to make the game any more fair.

The No side has insisted that we go all in without being allowed to see our own cards. It's tried to bribe us with a few complimentary chips which are dwarfed by what's actually at stake. It's tried to distract us by changing the rules without warning; it's hired outside goons to intimidate us into staying at the table.

And all the while the corporate sector has encouraged the City's diversions and deceptions - while gleefully awaiting its opportunity to divide up the spoils.

But the No side hasn't been able to avoid the most important reality about the wastewater treatment referendum.

Reginans remain the suckers in the game being played by the City and its corporate benefactors. And if we don't walk away while we have the chance, we'll be paying off the debts for decades to come.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

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