In response to the provincial NDP’s call for an independent evaluation of the costs of the government’s proposed P3 school construction project, Minister of Highways and Infrastructure Don McMorris dismissed the opposition’s concern stating that “there will be an independent evaluation, not by government,” but by an independent “accounting firm, whether Ernst & Young or Deloitte.” Pressed by CBC Radio Host Sheila Coles regarding the independence of the evaluation process from government, Minister McMorris added:
Entries Tagged as 'Saskatchewan'
The Saskatchewan Party has appropriated the province’s name, flag and football team. More recently, it asserted a new symbol of Saskatchewan patriotism: the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Earlier this year, provincial energy and resources minister Tim McMillan had the following letter in Regina’s Leader-Post:
Province Needs XL (January 28, 2013)
I write in regard to recent Leader-Post coverage of the Keystone XL Pipeline. As Saskatchewan’s minister responsible for energy and resources, I strongly support this project as it has considerable benefits for Saskatchewan’s oil industry and the people of this province.
Regardless of the outcome in the City of Regina’s wastewater referendum being held today, there is one thing that is certain. We need to establish very clear rules for how City-wide referenda should be conducted in the future and we need very specific rules on how the City communicates with the voters on the referendum issue. The catalogue of controversial and borderline unscrupulous practices by the City during the entire life of the referendum are almost too numerous to list. Before the referendum was even confirmed we had the attempt by the City Clerk to raise the petition threshold, the disqualification of signatures that did not include the year in the date, and the strange use of two verification procedures for the petition signatures that appears to have contravened the Cities Act. Once the referendum was underway, we had city staff promoting the Vote No side, splash pages on the City’s website advocating for the No side, the City twitter feed used to promote the No side and even voter information cards emblazoned with arguments for the Vote No campaign. (Paul Dechene has an excellent run-down of the various incidents here).
As the referendum on whether to privatize Regina’s wastewater plant nears, the Regina Leader-Post is printing a column a day advocating the P3: John Gormley on Friday, Bruce Johnstone on Saturday, and Murray Mandryk yesterday.
Johnstone and Mandryk repeat three of the City’s key claims. Gormley only gets to one of these claims because he mostly just attacks the messenger, implying that a P3 would be good because CUPE opposes it (another common City tactic).
It does not make sense for governments, which can borrow at low interest rates, to pay private operators to finance public infrastructure at higher interest rates.
Regina is engaged in a controversial debate about a proposed public private partnership (P3) for the city’s wastewater plant.
Residents formed a Regina Water Watch group to keep the facility public. They collected enough names to take the issue to a municipal referendum on September 25th, despite attempts by the city to disallow signatures on spurious grounds. Regina mayor Michael Fougere launched an aggressive advertising campaign in support of the P3, spending over $300,000 in advertising and robocalls. (For its part he Regina Water Watch group has produced an excellent video, starring Eric Peterson).
Three issues haven’t received much attention in the public debate over Regina’s controversial wastewater P3 project, but they should give residents there and elsewhere cause for concern (although others have raised some of them here).
Perhaps the most ubiquitous justification for the P3 model is the notion of “risk transfer.” The City of Regina’s argument for the P3 wastewater treatment plant borrows heavily on this argument, regularly touting the transfer of risk from the public to the private sector as a primary reason for the superiority of the P3 model. More recently, the Minister responsible for SaskBuilds, Don McMorris, also highlighted the argument of risk transfer while championing the proposed P3 Long-term care facility in Swift Current:
Today marks the National Day of Action for Victoria Ordu and Ihuoma Amadi, the two University of Regina students that have spent the past 14 months in sanctuary to avoid deportation. Both students made the honest mistake of working at a local Wal-Mart for two weeks, thereby violating the terms of their student visas. As we speak, people from all over Canada, the United States, Europe and South America, are sending heart-felt pleas to Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to demonstrate a modicum of compassion and use his power to return these two women to their studies at the University of Regina for September.
Following last week’s troubling news about potash, the Saskatchewan government released its first-quarter financial report today. The headline seems to be “Oil Keeps Budget in Black”, with a forecast increase in oil revenue more than offsetting a forecast decline in potash and other revenues.
But the forecast West Texas Intermediate price is only up by a couple of dollars since the provincial budget. A larger difference is that the forecast exchange rate has fallen from 99 to 96 US cents.
In the continuing cavalcade of P3 proponents adorning the Leader Post’s opinion page, today’s edition comes to us from the champion privatizers at the Fraser Institute. Thankfully, authors Hugh MacIntyre and Charles Lamman promise to clarify three facts about P3s that will clear up any “misunderstandings that have clouded the debate so far.” Let’s take each in turn,
1. “P3′s are not privatization… The government still owns the infrastructure and is ultimately responsible for ensuring related services are up to snuff.”
Perhaps some of you have noticed a rather curious change in the nomenclature advanced by the City of Regina and adopted by both the Leader-Post and Star-Phoenix in the days immediately after city council approved the referendum for the wastewater treatment plant. You see, it’s no longer a wastewater treatment plant, it’s now a sewage treatment plant, and anyone who would suggest this has anything to do with water is - at least in the words of both the Star Phoenix and Leader-Post – “misleading” and “fear-mongering.” Just prior to the announcement of the referendum, the City of Regina seemed to have no problem calling the wastewater treatment plant a wastewater treatment plant (See here, here and here), even referring to it by the acronym WWTP in internal communications. So what happened? Why is the City of Regina so concerned that it now be referred to as a sewage treatment plant?