The Provincial budget 2005

FTLComm - Regina - Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Wednesday March 23, Saskatchewan's finance minister Harry Van Mulligen read his 2005 Provincial Budget. He said that the over all intent of the budget is to make Saskatchewan an affordable place to live and raise a family, build a green and prosperous economy, provide the best health care in Canada and build a future for young people here.

Those are encouraging objectives and when I arrived at the Legislative building that afternoon it was clear that the media and press people assembled clearly understood that this was an important event.

As I walked up to the beautiful building (below) I had to wade through snow piles, the walks

had been left untended for the whole winter. When I rounded the approach to climb the stairs to the main entrance I could see that the Christmas decorations were still in place. It is always important to consider that what people say is of little value if their actions and their attention to detail fails to match even the best of intentions. In general the grounds of the legislature are a mess, no self respecting home owner or farmer would have his yard in such a condition.

In the lobby at the main entrance a television monitor depicted the events unfolding on the floor of the assembly and in the rotunda it was media central.

There were more than press on hand as people from interest groups like David Williamson (right) of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, representatives of student organisations, the mayor of Regina and labour representatives were on hand to give their opinions on the governments financial intentions.

The press had had since eleven in the morning to go over the budget documents and some were at 2:00 as it was being read still deep in study (below).

I realised that for me the real content of the budget is something that will unfold as it is or is not acted upon and that first impression of the uncleared walkways made a bigger impression than any black ink on stacks of neatly printed paper.
All of the commentators including the press expressed disappointment in the budget. While it talked of large expenditures in education no real money was earmarked for education as such while teachers had just voted overwhelmingly to strike. Perhaps the underlying disappointment was the cowardly nature of the budget. Instead of increasing or decreasing corporate taxation it talked of a commission to consider what to do. With loud proclamations of improving waiting list times echoing from last year's budget the same promise made yet throughout the province beds are being closed and there are serious staff shortages with nurses seeking better wages.

It is ever so easy to condemn a budgetary document and as the afternoon proceeded that was the order of the day. But underlying the complaints was a significant thread and that was that belief in entrepeneurialism, free market place and basic rampant unchecked capitalism is the ultimate goal of a society. Even the budget documents themselves have this underlying conviction and one wonders didn't this society live through the 1920s once before yet here once again are the same old failing concepts still flapping haplessly in the political world of self interest and blind faith.

In a couple of weeks I will discuss the political and social ramifications that the course outlined in this budget will ultimately create when it is applied to Saskatchewan's educational system.

Now to experience the scene in the legislative assemble rotunda last Wednesday afternoon
click here to see the two pages of pictures that tell that story.

Timothy W. Shire


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Editor : Timothy W. Shire
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