13 AUGUST 2010
Published Wednesday August 11th, 2010
By Jack MacDougall
As we lurch from election to election, I feel certain voters are wondering where we are getting the money for the daily announcements. We know we just came through the worst financial crisis in our history, the worst in Canada.
We have adopted and seemingly accepted an election-year spending spree strategy for our province. Regardless of the financial situation, governments go way over the top in spending months before an election and begin the belt-tightening speeches following the election. Sadly, there is evidence that it works.
This has a terrible consequence for us as a society. For example, take road builders. This year, because it is an election year, there is going to be another record amount spent on roads. One might think road builders would be happy. They would be wrong. While they cannot bite the hand that feeds them, the government, road builders would much rather operate on a continuous five-year plan, such that when one year is finished then the next fifth year's budget is announced. This allows the local industry to build to meet the demand.
Under the current strategy, next year will probably be one of the worst years for spending . We will have small contractors with payments to make and no business. Some will go bankrupt.
We have to look at subsidies as well. We currently buy or produce power at a certain cost and turn around and sell it cheaper than it costs to profitable industries. We are not anti-industry, but it is a fundamentally flawed strategy. If a company is profitable then it does not make sense for taxpayers, who are hopelessly in debt, to incur that cost. We have the best power rates in the Maritimes and Maine.
We have to look at new revenue sources, such as the four-lane highway. In what may be the stupidest decision any government has ever made, the former Conservative government eliminated the tolls on the four-lane highway, costing us now close to one half a billion in lost revenue and counting. Our unique strategic advantage is now our strategic disadvantage.