Sask Party Putting People Out of Work

The Sask Party has hit a new low.

Province laying off 251 custodial workers, “lowest paid government employees,” says union”

A tender for cleaning services at SGI’s head office was sent out last week.

Those being laid off work in government-owned properties, like the Legislative Building and the T.C. Douglas Building in Regina.

“Unless the public will stand up and tell the government what they’re doing is wrong, or there is backlash, they’re going to do it and that is too bad,” said Bymoen.

There is concern from SGEU that the 251 employees, who currently earn a living wage, will take lower paying positions with the company or companies who may be contracted by the province to do the work.

He said when you go into non-government buildings, it is often minimum wage employees doing the maintenance and cleaning.

“They’re working odd hours, minimum wage, and whoever is hiring them is taking a premium for hiring them and managing the contract,” he said.

A friend of mine calculated the “savings” the province is seeking in doing this privatization:

“The province says it is exploring the option to determine if there would be savings…” B.S. 251 employees at a living wage costs about $10.4M at $20 an hour. To contract it out to the private sector that cost would go down to a minimum of about $5.6M, and only if the employees got minimum wage and the contractor (read: business friend of the Sask Party) didn’t take a premium for the service. In other words, the actual savings would be less than $4.4M and people who rely on being paid a fair wage would be screwed. Take my $4 a year and treat people with respect!

Those Profane Twitter Goofs

What’s the account “libslikdik” doing in the Premier’s Twitter timeline anyway? He took the time to unfollow me last year, but he wants to read homophobes and retweet their anti-carbontax nonsense?

It was a good Holiday

I had a good New Years and Christmas holidays. A shipping error, in my favour, was perhaps the most notable event. The weather was cold, and it’ll be -25 or colder at night this week, which hasn’t happened that long since perhaps last January.

Was too busy to blog, but there was a letter in the local paper that summed up the state of Saskatchewan politics very, very well. The big problem may be that there’s no perception out there that anyone else would do much of a better job than Wall, even though the contrary is probably the case.

leaderpost .com/opinion/letters/wall-government-is-failing-to-govern

Just remind me again why Brad Wall is so popular?

Regina and Saskatoon have the highest crime rates in the country. The overall provincial crime rate is twice the national average. We have the highest homicide rate in the country. Our rate of incarceration is double that of every other province in Canada. Our criminal justice system ranks ninth among the 10 provinces. Racism is rampant and street gangs are on the rise.

We have the highest rate of impaired driving in Canada, and the highest rate of domestic violence in the country. Saskatchewan teenagers perform worse in science, math and reading tests than their peers in all other provinces.

There are not nearly enough child care spaces to accommodate the needs of working parents, and unfair taxation methods severely hamper those few in existence.

Last month 7,200 construction jobs were lost. The number of people needing social assistance has doubled in the past year.

The GTH is a putrid scandal and Wall refuses to explain how Sask. Party supporter Anthony Marquart made $5 million, and Robert Tappauf made $6 million on the deal. Auditor Ferguson has stated unequivocally that she “did not conclusively state there was no conflict of interest, fraud or wrongdoing with respect to land transactions related to the GTH.” It is clear that Wall’s challenge to the federal carbon tax is simply a way to deflect attention away from the GTH fiasco.

The privatization of MRIs is contrary to the Canada Health Act. We have more doctors from India, Nigeria and Pakistan than any other province in the country. We spent $50 million on a “lean” program sold to us by an American who imports Japanese instructors to increase employee productivity, as they purportedly did in a Toyota automobile plant. Health care in Saskatchewan is a mess. Home care is non-existent.

Although Saskatchewan has the highest per capita carbon emissions in the country, Wall refuses to acknowledge that climate change is a reality and our greenhouse gas emissions are a problem. We have spent more than $1 billion on a coal carbon capture plant that is not fully operational, and countries that Wall says we can sell to already get 25 per cent of their energy from clean sources with plans to achieve 50 per cent in 15 years. Due to the plant’s failure to provide enough CO2 to Calgary’s Cenovus Energy we have paid them more than $20 million in penalties. The Sask. Party has received more than $3 million from Alberta oil companies, and Cenovus is their biggest donor.

The privatization of liquor outlets was conducted in a shameful partisan manner, with Sobeys getting the lion’s share. Sobeys is a Maritime company and that’s where their profits will go.

The cost of failed SaskPower smart meters was $47 million, and now we’re going to try them all over again.

Wall refuses to release Husky oil spill records in spite of the privacy commissioner urging him to do so.

We have a $1-billion deficit and have borrowed another $4.6 billion just to cover operating costs. The 2016-17 budget is titled “Keeping Saskatchewan Strong.” The only thing strong in Saskatchewan today is the corrupt stench of a government’s failure to govern.

Sandra G. Mitchell, Regina

Predictions That Aren’t Fun

“Asia ramping up coal use. US returning to coal. Lets focus on tech like CCS not tax harming econ w/o real GHG impact” – Premier Wall

The Premier, on down to his Twitter troll army defend Saskatchewan pollution because “China and India” do more pollution.

Well I have news for you, China and India do more of everything. They are the biggest ever in… name the category.
“I can’t get into good shape right now, because China and India”. A SaskParty/Conservative excuse generator would be a funny app.

Wall Took Money From Who?

Who has the Saskatchewan Party accepted donations from? The UofR, City of Regina, Regina Public Library, etc.

Most of the cash came from oil companies such as Crescent Point, Cenovus, Encana and PennWest, though the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association, the Canadian Western Bank and construction company PCL also contributed.

…The NDP last year campaigned on getting big money out of politics, and Bill 1 passed by the new government banned corporate and union donations.

…“Alberta has some of the best election finance laws in the country, but Saskatchewan is still the Wild West,” Kinney said.

How does Wall get away with it?

Presumed Albertan Joel Teeling  explains:

“Brad Wall stands up for Alberta’s interests more than our own Premier, so I have no problem with this.”
Fans of Petrostates are who run Alberta and Saskatchewan, for the most part.

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Too Much Climate Change Truth

Brad Wall’s “plan is laughable“. That’s because it isn’t a plan to address climate change, it’s a plan to sweep it under the rug for another decade. Too bad we’re short of time and marching toward oblivion.

Clearly, Wall now thinks we’ve fallen a long way as a province since the early days of his tenure in office — in terms of not only our fiscal situation, but also our generosity as a community.

This week, as part of his laughable excuse for a climate change plan, Wall started demanding that Canada’s federal government strip desperately needed resources away from some of the poorest people on the planet in order to preserve Saskatchewan’s standing as the world’s most reckless air polluter.

If Wall were to get his way, Canada would stand out as the most callous and irresponsible developed country on the planet.

Brad Wall is ignoring reality, for the benefit of greed.

When it comes to climate change, Saskatchewan’s plan is akin to an ostrich sticking its head in the sand.

Premier Brad Wall literally wants to bury our troubles. He wants to dig up fossil fuels and then bury them in another form. Carbon capture and storage might work, for a while. But it will not work near as effectively as just leaving the carbon in the ground in the first place.

A price on carbon will help us slow the rate at which we dig up our future and might enable us the time and opportunity to find a better way to build a sustainable and just society.

The great political theorist John Dryzek labels people like Wall as “Prometheans.” In Greek mythology, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to mankind. He symbolizes progress. Prometheans such as Wall believe that the story of human history is the story of progress.

They argue that nature has no limits, because once a resource runs out, clever people will find a new resource. Or, in the context of CO2 emissions, if humans hit the upper limit of emissions, someone will figure out a way to solve the problem without actually having to recognize limits. This is because those such as Wall recognize no limits to growth.

This is a rather hubristic position for a premier who oversees a province in which the economy is shrinking and natural resources — from grasslands to migratory birds to fresh water — are disappearing.

Most scientists agree that human generated CO2 emissions are changing the Earth’s climate. Economists, policy-makers, and politicians across the globe agree that a price on carbon is an effective way to reduce human-caused CO2 emissions. This is not a case of either-or. We do not require either technology or the economy. We need both.

We need every tool in the tool box. Saskatchewan needs to continue investing in technology that might help to mitigate climate change. And we all need to invest in adaptation strategies. But we also need to start paying for the environmental externalities associated with CO2 emitting behaviours. A price on carbon is one tool.

This is not an “economy versus the environment” issue, as Wall suggests. The economy is the environment. If Saskatchewan cannot grow lentils anymore because of unpredictable rain patterns, its economy cannot be strong. If there is no water left for hydraulic fracturing because of drought, the economy cannot be strong.

We do not choose between the economy and the environment because they are intertwined.

Wall warned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the other provinces that Saskatchewan “will fight for our interest, in the court of public opinion and, if need be, in the courts of the land.” Wall might win the battle on principle, but Saskatchewan will lose the war on climate change and environmental degradation.

The costs will be greater than we can bear. Now is not the time to bicker over technology or the economy. It is too late. We need to invest in technology and we need to invest in the environment. A national price on carbon will cost real dollars, but it is a small fee for standing on the right side of history.

Andrea Olive is an assistant professor of political science and geography at the University of Toronto. She’s from Regina and has a summer home in Saskatchewan.

What’s Really Going On With Climate Change

There are too many people espousing their uneducated, or simply malicious views about the problem of climate change. There are enough of them in some places as to have totally halted progress against one of the greatest threats facing not only our species, but countless others. It’s equivalent to having spotted an Earth-directed asteroid with perhaps 50 years advance notice, but the urgency to solve the similar problem of climate change is no where close to what we’d expect for that pending disaster.

If you want to understand the problem, there’s this useful guide. Bill McKibben also provided this easy to understand summary of the magnitude of the problem.

[If] our goal is to keep the Earth’s temperature from rising more than two degrees Celsius—the upper limit identified by the nations of the world—how much more new digging and drilling can we do?

Here’s the answer: zero.

That’s a lot of not digging. Most people grew up with the idea of oil prospectors and the image of Jed Clampett getting sprayed with Black Gold is seared into the brains of everyone older than 35. Yet if we don’t stop digging in short years, we all might as well be at the bottom of a see-ment pool.

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