Postmedia’s Ham-Handed Assault on Mulcair

Postmedia has posted Michael Den Tandt’s latest column, which will presumably appear in print tomorrow. He presents recent comments about Dutch disease as a departure from Tom Mulcair’s previous position:

. . . when Tom Mulcair was driving hard to become leader of the New Democrats, he took polite but pointed issue with his party’s historically reflexive opposition to resource development. . . . All of which leaves us scratching our heads, now, at Mulcair’s headlong rush into open warfare with the western premiers, or indeed anyone whose livelihoods depend on the oilsands, with his talk of “Dutch disease”

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 Mulcair’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 today’s Regina Leader-Post, the only thing it has printed on Mulcair’s side of the Dutch disease debate. Since I submitted my letter, The Leader-Post also printed John Gormley’s anti-Mulcair column. Today’s edition features three more items bashing Mulcair: Den Tandt’s latest column, Pamela Wallin’s letter, and a report on Christy Clark’s comments.

Mulcair: a good point

Your May 8 front page reported Premier Brad Wall’s criticism of federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair’s concern that resource policies are eliminating manufacturing jobs (“Mulcair ‘ashamed’ of west?”). 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 “Saskatchewan’s own manufacturing sector is thriving despite the high Canadian dollar.”

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 Resources’ 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.

Erin Weir
Weir is a Saskatchewan expatriate and an economist with the United Steelworkers.

3 comments

  • Great work yous all do…..

  • It wouldn’t matter what this columnist had said previously. He recieved the instruction or the cue to write something that supports the “Mulcair is pitting regions of the country against each other” theme and had to comply. That’s his job.

    Give the guy a some space. His children have to go to college too, don’t they?

  • It should be pointed out to Den Tandt that the next few months should provide an empirical test of the truth of Mulcair’s assertions.

    Europe is re-entering recession and Europe is China’s largest trading partner. The Chinese economy will cool due the Euro area slow down and Chinese commodity demand will decrease. This will have a negative impact on world commodity prices. The price of oil has already dropped to $95 from $105 at the start of May, a 10% drop in two weeks, and will likely continue to drop as the world economy continues to slow.

    Making predictions is difficult, especially predictions about the future, but watch the screams coming from anyone “whose livelihoods depend on the oilsands” as the slowdown deepens and tar sands producers begin to delay or defer projects. Watch what happens as declining tar sands demand blows a very big hole in Flaherty’s revenue projections. Watch what happens when the Canadian economy can no longer re-balance as all the manufacturing jobs in the east (such as CAT) have long disappeared. Watch as Harper and friends blame their gross miss-management of the economy on Mr. Dion.

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