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Archive for 'Saskatchewan'

PotashCorp Projects Low Royalties

Today’s fourth-quarter report indicates that PotashCorp paid “provincial mining and other taxes” of $194 million on potash sales of $3 billion in 2013. In other words, Saskatchewan’s resource surcharge and potash production tax amounted to just 6.5% of the value of potash sold. Adding the basic Crown royalty (which PotashCorp includes in “cost of goods […]

Dutch Disease, Prices and Wages in Saskatchewan

Jim Stanford recently pointed out that many of the conservative economists who had defended the overvalued loonie have quickly shifted to applauding its depreciation. The Government of Saskatchewan may be making a similar conversion on the road to Damascus. When federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair expressed concern about Dutch disease, premier Brad Wall denied that […]

Canada-Europe Deal Not About Trade

I have the following letter to the editor in today’s Prince Albert Daily Herald: Canada-Europe Deal Not About Trade In their letter of Dec. 3, Darryl Hickie and other Sask. Party MLAs back away from his previous claim that the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union (EU) would be […]

Weir vs. Wall on Potash Profits, Dividends and Royalties

Earlier this week, PotashCorp laid off 440 workers in Saskatchewan. Here are the closing paragraphs from today’s front-page story reporting a letter from Premier Brad Wall asking the company to consider reducing its dividend payments to shareholders in order to maintain jobs in Saskatchewan: Regina economist and former NDP leadership candidate Erin Weir said if […]

A Nuclear Error: Uranium Royalty Cuts

On Thursday’s Lang & O’Leary Exchange (at 24:45 in this CBC video), I noted that while the Government of Canada just signed a deal with Kazakhstan allowing Cameco to invest more in that country’s uranium industry, the Government of Saskatchewan recently slashed its uranium royalties to encourage Cameco to invest in the province rather than […]

The Perils of Passivity

Almost a year ago, Paul Krugman wrote a blog post entitled “Inaction is the Greatest Risk.” He was addressing American monetary policy, but the same theme applies to Saskatchewan politics. Much as Krugman warned readers upfront that his post was “wonkish,” I’ll admit that the following is “hackish.” For several months, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall […]

This is Not the Saskatchewan NDP’s Official Position

I have the following opinion piece in the latest (September 2013) edition of The Commonwealth, accompanied by this disclaimer: “The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the official position of the Saskatchewan NDP.” Comparing the NDP and Sask. Party Employment Records Right-wing politicians often win elections by presenting themselves as good economic […]

Royalties should be the Keystone of Saskatchewan’s Petroleum Policy

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 […]

Sask. Party Spin Outstrips Population Growth

Sask. Party spin appears to be growing even faster than the province’s population. Today’s Saskatchewan government news release quotes Premier Wall as saying, “We have the strongest job growth and lowest unemployment in Canada.” By what measure does Saskatchewan have the strongest job growth? Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey indicates that employment grew by 2.9 per […]

Regina’s P3 Columnists

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 today. Johnstone and Mandryk repeat three of the City’s key claims. Gormley only gets to one of these claims because he […]

What’s the real risk and cost for Regina’s wastewater P3?

The City of 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 […]

P3 or No Federal Funding: A Third Option for Regina Wastewater?

The Queen City’s water debate has boiled over since I last blogged about it. City Council decided to build a new wastewater-treatment facility as a public-private partnership (P3), but a group of concerned citizens gathered 24,000 signatures to force a referendum on whether to “publicly finance, operate and maintain the new wastewater treatment plant for […]

Saskatchewan Budget Saved by Falling Loonie

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 […]

PotashCorp Reports Inadequate Royalties

PotashCorp reported today that it paid $81 million of “provincial mining and other taxes” on $975 million of potash sales in the second quarter of 2013. In other words, Saskatchewan’s potash production tax and resource surcharge amounted to 8% of potash sales. Adding the basic Crown royalty of just over 2% (which PotashCorp includes in […]

A Ralph of Many Trades and a Master of At Least One

Federal political candidates register their occupations with Elections Canada. I was recently looking through some election results and noticed that my old friend, Ralph Goodale, has had quite a varied career during his time as an MP. In every federal election he contested prior to 1993, Ralph identified himself as a lawyer. That changed to […]

Sask Party Employment Math: From the Great Wall to the Berlin Wall

Last week, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released my policy brief on Saskatchewan job-creation. Using Statistics Canada figures, it demonstrated that “workforce growth has been almost identical during the premierships of Brad Wall and Lorne Calvert.” Unsurprisingly, the main explanatory variable for Saskatchewan employment appears to be commodity prices rather than the party in […]

The Great Wall Ties Chairman Calvert’s Five-Year Plan

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has released my policy brief (PDF) on Saskatchewan employment growth. It generated front-page coverage in today’s Saskatoon StarPhoenix and Regina Leader-Post business sections as well as this snazzy online infographic. The press release follows: Premier Wall’s Employment Record Lags Calvert and Blakeney Regina – A new policy brief from […]

Regina Hosed by P3 Waste Water

Regina City Council has voted to proceed with a 30-year public-private partnership (P3) in which a private company would design, build, finance, operate and maintain the city’s new waste water treatment facility. The municipal administration’s rationale has been that, although a P3 will be more expensive than traditional public financing, it is required to access […]

Don’t Privatize ISC

My op-ed in today’s Saskatoon StarPhoenix (page A11): Privatizing ISC is a poor deal for Saskatchewan The provincial government estimates that selling 60 per cent of the Information Services Corporation will raise up to $120 million for infrastructure investment. Is that a good deal for the people of Saskatchewan? Last year, ISC generated $20 million […]

Raising Saskatchewan’s Minimum Wage

Saskatchewan Federation of Labour president Larry Hubich and I have the following joint op-ed in today’s Regina Leader-Post (page A10). It’s been fourteen years since I first wrote into The Leader-Post advocating a minimum-wage increase. UPDATE (August 31): The op-ed also appeared in today’s Saskatoon StarPhoenix (page A11), Wednesday’s Estevan Mercury (page A7) and Swift Current’s […]

No Vale on the Plains?

I had the following comments in yesterday’s front-page story on Vale’s decision to postpone its proposed $3-billion potash mine at Kronau, Saskatchewan: Regina economist Erin Weir, who is widely expected to run for the leadership of the provincial NDP, said in a statement Friday that the Vale announcement “represents a failure of the Saskatchewan government’s […]

1% Potash Royalties: Typo or Foreshadowing?

Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Energy and Resources has released its 2011-12 Annual Report. The potash table (page 36) incredibly shows “Royalty/Tax” revenue of only $62.5 million in 2010-11 and $38.4 million in 2011-12. These figures amount to just 1.2% and 0.6% respectively of the value of potash sales. I have long argued that Saskatchewan’s potash royalties […]

Labour Minister Wrong on Manufacturing Jobs

Saskatchewan newspapers report: “Certainly in professional, scientific and technical areas and in the mining and the manufacturing sector (the job numbers) are very strong,” Don Morgan, minister of advanced education and labour relations, told reporters at news conference Friday. On Friday, Statistics Canada reported that Saskatchewan manufacturing employment dropped by 900 last month and declined […]

Agrium Halves Potash Royalties

Agrium reports that it paid half as much to the people of Saskatchewan in the second quarter as it had in the same quarter of last year. The company’s quarterly “potash profit and capital tax” payment dropped to $8 million from $15 million a year ago. Agrium’s only potash mine is in Saskatchewan. The value […]

Taking Over Nexen

The China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s (CNOOC) bid to acquire Nexen is a large and complex proposal. Canadians should call for a more thorough and transparent review than other foreign takeovers have received under the Investment Canada Act. A preliminary outline of possible costs and benefits follows. The Downside: Chinese Consumer Interests A company like […]

Saskatchewan’s Rising Cost of Living

Today’s Consumer Price Index provides further evidence of Saskatchewan’s rising cost of living. Among the provinces, Saskatchewan is tied for the second-highest annual inflation rate: 2.0%. Consumer prices decreased in June from May in nine provinces (all except Alberta). But Saskatchewan was tied for the smallest monthly price decline: -0.3%. Compared to the rest of […]

Mosaic Profit Argues for Higher Royalties

Today’s Mosaic quarterly report provides further evidence that the Government of Saskatchewan should improve its royalty and tax structure to collect a better return on the province’s non-renewable resources like potash. Quarterly Comparison Despite higher potash prices, Mosaic paid lower royalties and resource taxes to Saskatchewan last quarter than in the same quarter of last […]

Investing in the Green & White – Why Not in Green Power?

At yesterday’s Saskatchewan Roughrider game, Premier Wall announced provincial funding for a new stadium: an $80-million grant and a $100-million loan to be repaid over time through a surcharge on tickets. While it’s unclear why a stadium should be anywhere near the top of the priority list, a readiness to invest in public infrastructure is […]

Randy Hoback’s Pulp Fiction

Last week, Conservative MP Randy Hoback had another letter in The Prince Albert Daily Herald blaming the NDP for the pulp-mill closure in 2006. He still has not addressed my main point about resource royalties. I have the following response on page 4 of today’s Herald: Pulp mill saga proves Mulcair’s point Notwithstanding MP Randy […]

Right to Work, again

In case anyone was wondering about the effectiveness of right to work laws in suppressing unionization, here is a chart of Union coverage rate by State (the percentage of all employees that are covered by a collective agreement) as of 2010.  Right to work states have an asterisk, and are outlined with a black dotted line. (Chart […]