author: taylor balfour | news writer
What does reversing this crown selloff mean?
In the spring of 2017, the Sask. Party released a controversial budget that was the topic of conversation for the months to come. At the end of October, however, the party began releasing reversals on many of the cuts they had made earlier in the year.
“They passed a very controversial budget in the spring, they passed changes to the surgeon health care system, the details of education finance, there was getting rid of STC, library funding cuts, there was a lot of stuff that was really controversial. They’ve been walking it back, which is kind of surprising,” Jim Farney, a political science professor at the U of R, explains.
Brad Wall, who has been premier of the province since 2007, reported in August that he was retiring from politics, but will remain in his position until the next Premier of Saskatchewan is chosen.
The various announcements made on Sask. Party reversals have been made in October, long after Wall’s resignation was made public in August 2017.
However, since the spring of 2017 when the Sask. Party released their budget, the party has been in hot water with many, regarding what was detailed in it. Due to the province’s $1.3 billion deficit, the Sask. Party made a variety of changes to tackle it.
One of these changes was that the PST would rise from 5 per cent to 6 per cent. Drawing more controversy, they claimed they would be cutting the Saskatchewan Transportation Company (STC) entirely, they would cut post-secondary funding by $30 million, and libraries would lose more than half their funding. Now, many of these are being taken back.
“I think probably what they heard from even their own voters is that they’re not happy about it. But it is a strange thing,” Farney explains.
One of these said changes was to Bill 40.
“Back in the 2003 election, I think one of the stories around why they lost that election was they promised to sell off the Crowns,” Farney explains.
“After that, every time Wall ran in an election, he promised that were such a thing to happen he would first have a referendum on it where everyone got to vote.”
“Then back in the spring they passed a bill in the midst of a lot of controversy that said ‘we will change that law so that we can sell up to 49 per cent of the Crown, so not privatize it, but sell almost half of it, without going through a referendum,” Farney continues.
“What they said in the Throne Speech is that they’ll double back on that and get rid of that provision and go back to the referendum rule.”
Farney says that listening to the people has always been a priority for Wall, but the changes still seem odd.
“It is true that that kind of communication has always been Wall’s government’s strength,” he explains.
“Seems now like an odd reversal.”