Postmediaâ€™s Ham-Handed Assault on Mulcair
Postmedia has posted Michael Den Tandtâ€™s latest column, which will presumably appear in print tomorrow. He presents recent comments about Dutch disease as a departure from Tom Mulcairâ€™s previous position:
. . . when Tom Mulcair was driving hard to become leader of the New Democrats, he took polite but pointed issue with his partyâ€™s historically reflexive opposition to resource development. . . . All of which leaves us scratching our heads, now, at Mulcairâ€™s headlong rush into open warfare with the western premiers, or indeed anyone whose livelihoods depend on the oilsands, with his talk of â€œDutch diseaseâ€
But less than a week ago, Den Tandt wrote the following:
Dutch disease due to high resource revenue? NDP leader Tom Mulcair has beaten this drum for months now . . .
So, which is it? Were Mulcairâ€™s comments a cynical change of tack or a repetition of what he has been saying all along? Surely Den Tandt cannot have it both ways.
UPDATE (May 14): I have the following letter in todayâ€™s Regina Leader-Post, the only thing it has printed on Mulcairâ€™s side of the Dutch disease debate. Since I submitted my letter, The Leader-Post also printed John Gormleyâ€™s anti-MulcairÂ column. Todayâ€™s editionÂ features three more items bashing Mulcair: Den Tandtâ€™s latest column, Pamela Wallinâ€™s letter, and a report on Christy Clarkâ€™s comments.
Mulcair: a good point
Your May 8 front page reported Premier Brad Wallâ€™s criticism of federal NDP leader Tom Mulcairâ€™s concern that resource policies are eliminating manufacturing jobs (â€œMulcair â€˜ashamedâ€™ of west?â€). The Leader-Post has also printed columns by Murray Mandryk, Michael Den Tandt and Barbara Yaffe repeating this criticism.
But Mulcair is addressing a genuine economic problem. While several factors have hurt Canadian manufacturing, an overvalued exchange rate has clearly undermined its competitiveness.
Yaffe claims that â€œSaskatchewan’s own manufacturing sector is thriving despite the high Canadian dollar.â€
But Statistics Canada reports that, since Wall took office, manufacturing employment has declined by 14 per cent in Saskatchewan compared to 12 per cent nationally.
Foreign investors have bid up the exchange rate by buying Canadian dollars to take over, or acquire shares in, Canadian resource companies. These corporations are so lucrative because they obtain public resources at low royalty rates and sell them at higher prices.
The Saskatchewan Ministry of Energy and Resourcesâ€™ most recent annual report indicates that it collected only $2.2 billion of revenue from $17.6 billion of non-renewable resource sales in 2010. No wonder foreign investors are driving up the loonie as they clamour to get in on the action.
Provinces should collect more resource revenue to fund public services and save for the future. Higher royalties would also temper the inflow of foreign funds, help moderate the exchange rate, and thereby facilitate manufacturing employment in Saskatchewan and other provinces.
Weir is a Saskatchewan expatriate and an economist with the United Steelworkers.