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By Laura Bohnert
Our Prime Minister is (jokingly) challenging former Friends star Matthew Perry to a fight, and our Premier is ready to tear Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall a new one: forget our “peacekeeping” roots; it looks like Canadian politics is headed for the boxing ring instead.
Granted, Canada’s political turmoil looks mild compared to the southern soldier boy and his apparent attempts to upset all the heavily-armed and war-prepped countries by throwing bombs at them, but nonetheless—especially in the wake of the recession—the skiff between Notley and Wall is nothing to sneeze at.
What’s the dispute all about? Essentially, it’s about one Premier scouting out a saving grace following the recession—by snaking big businesses away from the other. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has decided to use Alberta’s carbon tax as a means of recovery from Saskatchewan’s own recession by inviting the Calgary businesses who have been hit hardest by the carbon tax into Saskatchewan instead.
It’s one way to boost business in your province: steal businesses out from under another province. Wall is offering royalty incentives, corporate and personal income tax reductions, office space in government buildings, and help with relocation costs. And of course, the even more tempting lack of a carbon tax (at least until Trudeau implements his carbon plan next year).
Notley’s response? Condemnation for a Premier who is “trying to steal business from other provinces.”
“What we see here is the notion that the way to build economic prosperity is to steal businesses from other provinces rather than growing your own,” comments Notley.
Whether or not Wall’s move was an appropriate one, the truth of the matter is that the dispute between premiers points to a growing tension between two economies that results from an ongoing struggle with the recession.
Alberta’s recession resulted in major economic losses on the business front—from the loss of thousands of head office jobs to the international companies who’ve pulled out—and Saskatchewan isn’t doing much better.
And then, of course, there is the problem of the budget. Notley’s solution to the economic downturn involves redistributing funds through the carbon levy and borrowing heavily to continue support for public services and infrastructure developments. Wall, on the other hand, is increasing sales tax, decreasing government funding for public services, reducing wages for 40,000 public employees, and canning the provincial bus company (complete with its 224 jobs). And, of course, trying to capitalize on the businesses who are still considering fleeing Alberta’s tense market.
It’s a business savvy move—but we’ve all seen the damage that can come about when a ruthless businessman is given political control (hopefully, this case won’t result in a nuclear war, though).
In other words, maybe it’s time to re-invest in the values that should probably continue to separate our political leaders from our business tycoons.