Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My heart bleeds for you

I would also be pissed off if my gravy train was coming to an end. Ripping off poor immigrants can be quite lucrative.

Immigration recruiters are not needed. They offer very little in terms of services for immigrants. And if a business chooses to recruit overseas, they should pay the cost, just like they do when they are looking for domestic workers. Why should we treat immigrants any differently?

It’s also nice to see other provinces are slowly joining Manitoba’s efforts to deal with this issue.

UPDATE: Ontario has announced that they will in fact follow Manitoba's lead and introduce legislation.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Making inroads into yellow dog

Well nobody can accuse the NDP of being politically motivated with this move. New schools in Steinbach, Winkler and La Broquerie?? It is reassuring that decisions are being made based on need and not on politics. Let the whining begin in South-west Winnipeg.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

CBC cuts

CBC English services announces program, service changes

Don't worry everyone HNIC and the National are staying put. If you go down the list I can't really find one show that I will miss...and I'm a supporter of the CBC.

It's too bad that the Thompson office will close. This region is already all too often ignored by the media.

Lazy post-budget analysis

I bet you thought I was talking about Hugh. Nope. I'm going to take the easy way out and let the banks do the talking.

“A Rare Show of Balance
Manitoba’s FY2009/10 budget takes a balanced approach against a weakening economic backdrop…. Longer term, the Province is committed to keeping the bottom line in the black, with another small surplus projected in FY2010/11. Though the Province will tap its reserve fund for $110 min, Manitoba will be one of the select few to balance the books this coming fiscal year.

This budget also builds on the Province’s infrastructure spending program, with capital investment increasing to $1.6 bin. This reflects a $625 min boost, with a continued focus on transportation, social housing health care infrastructure.

Manitoba’s economy will continue to fare relatively well amid the downturn thanks to its diversified range of sectors, still-buoyant capital spending and strong population growth.”

BMO Capital Markets
March 25, 2009

“Manitoba’s 2009-10 Budget – Focused on a Steady Course
Despite the economic slowdown, Manitoba forecasts a small consolidated surplus of $48million for fiscal 2009-10 (FY10)….

Manitoba presents a carefully managed plan to further its longer-term policy objectives, aided by its diversified economy that is noted for its resilience. In FY10, the government will continue to pursue fiscal repair, enhance key services and trim the provincial tax burden, albeit at a sharply slower pace given the soft economy and the need for fiscal stimulus.

One noteworthy change will be dropping the small business corporate income tax rate to zero on December 1, 2010. In light of the financial market turmoil, efforts to provide financing for Manitoba businesses through loans, loan guarantees and venture capital are increased this year.

In the near-term, several factors offer Manitoba a fiscal cushion, including the four-year averaging period in its balanced budget legislation, a healthy balance in its Fiscal Stabilization Account and interest charges that now absorb just 6¢ of each revenue dollar.”

Scotiabank Group, Global Economic Research
Fiscal Pulse, March 25, 2009

“Manitoba will be rare among the provinces in staying in surplus in 2009/10, as its diversified economy sees a smaller hit from the global downturn, although capital spending will boost the debt/GDP ratio somewhat.

Manitoba will be rare among the provinces in planning to stay in surplus for 2009/10,despite facing a small 0.4% drop in revenues, largely owing to a 4.4% drop in income taxes.

A planned increase of $709 mn in the coming year would take net debt to 23.0% of GDP, an uptrend we have seen in all provincial budgets this year.

CIBC, Economics & Strategy
Provincial Budget Briefs, March 25, 2009

“The province’s economy outpaced the nation as a whole in 2008 with an estimated 2.2% real GDP growth and 6.3% nominal GDP growth.

Given the deterioration in the economy and the significant downward pressure on revenues, the Manitoba government could have taken the easy way out. Notably, it could have opted to run a deficit, as has become the norm across Canada and around the world in 2009, or it could have elected to postpone previously-announced tax cuts. However, the government chose not to take either of those paths…. Over the short term, the infrastructure spending and tax cuts will provide some much-needed stimulus to the economy. From a longer-term perspective, the province’s sound fiscal management – not to mention its steadily improving tax competitiveness – will stand it in particularly good stead.”

TD Bank Financial Group
TD Economics, The 2009 Manitoba Budget, March 25, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

By-election results

I’m going to claim victory on my by-election predictions. I got the winners right (easy) as well as the order of the second and third place finishers. I was right on the money on Blaikie’s popular vote at 54 % and was quite close in guessing the overall turnout (I was off by only 2 % in both cases 29 % vs 31 % in The Pas and 39 % vs 37 % in Elmwood).

The only thing I was off was the margin of victory for the NDP in The Pas. I guess the north hasn’t forgotten about these Tory pledges.

And what a weak quote by Hugh .

Now, budget time.

Monday, March 23, 2009

"Lies, damned lies and statistics"

Looks like Brodbeck has "slipped up" again.

“The problem with politicians and their hacks trying to spin, craft and fudge information about controversial issues in hopes of softening the political fallout is it usually comes back to blow up in their faces”, Tom Brodbeck Feb 6th.

Well said Tom. Looks like this logic should also apply to journalists/columnists.

Tom of course would know all about spin. Over the years, he has provided his readers with his own dose of number fudging, fact twisting and pretty much making things up in order to make the “facts” fit his point of view.

Fortunately BB has already documented a few cases which will save me the dreadful task of having to go back and re-read more of Broedbeck’s work to make my point.

My predictions

I’ve never done this so let’s see how close I get. I’m using the past few election results (general 2007, 2003 and recent by-elections) to base my predictions. I've done this mainly because I haven’t paid any attention to the local campaigns and also because local candidates only play a very small role in influencing the results anyway. I’ve stayed away from 1999 since I don’t think the results would be especially helpful.


Things to consider:
-NDP's Jim Maloway received 65 % (2003) and 62 % (2007) of the vote.
-Tories finised second in both elections.
-Libs finished third in both elections.

-Doer is still well liked in Winnipeg
-The governing party’s popular vote tends to slip a bit in by-elections.
-Blaikie’s change from federal to provincial politics may have pissed off some folks.
-Blaikie is still very well regarded.
-This is a traditional NDP seat.

Winner -NDP 54 %
First loser –Tories 28 %
Second loser –Liberals 18 %

All things considered I don’t think Blaikie will hit 60 % but it will still be an easy win for the NDP. The Lib candidate seems to be working hard but I don’t think it will translate into much. The Lib brand is just too weak.

Turn out:
Things to consider:
-Turn out for the 2005 Fort Whyte by-election was 21 % lower than the 2007 general election. 59 vs 38 %.
-Turn out for the 2004 Minto by-election was 3 % lower than the 2007 general election. 50 vs 47 %.
-Turn out for the 2004 Turtle Mountain by-election was 7 % lower than the 2007 general election. 54 vs 47 %.

Elmwood has had a turn out of 47 % (2003) and 50 % (2007).

Final verdict on turnout: 39 %


Things to consider:
-NDP has won the last two elections by landslides (69 % in 2007).
-Tories were second in 2007, while Libs placed second in 2003.
-Doer is still well liked in the north.
-The governing party’s popular vote tends to slip a bit in by-elections.
-NDP candidate seems to be quite strong but won't have the same kind of name recognition as Oscar Lathlin did.
-This is a traditonal NDP seat.

Winner-NDP 59 %
First loser-Tories 25 %
Second loser- Liberals 15 %

Turn out:
-Things to consider:
The Pas has had a turn out of 40 % (2003) and 37 % (2007)

Final verdict on turnout: 29 %

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Worst idea ever

I thought the CTF's job was to reduce duplication. Craig wants to create an "all-party committee to review provincial spending”. Great idea. Except for one thing. We've got one already. It’s called the committee of supply. You know the one that's part of the estimates process. The one that's been around forever and sits every year.

I can’t believe I’m going to say this but can we have Adrienne back.

COMMITTEE OF SUPPLY - Committee comprised of all Members of the Assembly chaired by the Deputy Speaker. This Committee meets to consider the Spending estimates of all government departments.

The Committee of Supply does have the ability to defeat a supply resolution, or entertain a proposal to reduce its amount.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My dog ate my homework

Hopefully the CTF did their homework this time before handing out the hardware. We wouldn't want another embarrassment like this following story. And they blamed the Sun for it too. Classy. I know there is waste in government and they should be called on it but I just like poking a little fun at my absolute favorite taxpayers group.

Wasteful spending award withdrawn
Winnipeg Free Press
Friday, March 10, 2006
Byline: Gabrielle Giroday

THEY'RE used to embarrassing politicians, but yesterday members of an outspoken advocacy group said they were embarrassed after not doing their homework.

And they blamed a rival Winnipeg newspaper for misleading them.

Yesterday, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) withdrew an award for wasteful spending given to the Manitoban government last week for publicly funding Botox and tummy tucks.

On March 1, the CTF awarded Manitoba its top provincial prize for spending $918,000 on tummy tucks and $10,900 on Botox from 2003 to 2004.

Following the awards' release, Manitoba Health officials defended the spending and told the Free Press the procedures were not used for cosmetic purposes.

Botox is a common cosmetic procedure to smooth fine wrinkles, they said, but it's also used to stop muscle spasms for sufferers of multiple sclerosis. The 218 publicly funded tummy tucks were used to treat patients with chronic skin infections on their stomachs, health officials added.

"It makes it out that all of these procedures are cosmetic and that's not true," said Jackie Sul, director of insured benefits for Manitoba Health, last week.

After about a dozen complaints to the CTF, the organization decided to withdraw the award for the first time since the annual campaign began in 1999.

"Frankly, we had not done our homework on this," said Troy Lanigan, National Taxpayers Federation communications director.

"We were under some misinterpretation about the nature and scope of those procedures, and we felt (withdrawing the award) was the appropriate thing to do."

Yesterday, the CTF released a statement apologizing to burn victims and patients with cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis and cancer that had Botox or tummy tucks because it was medically necessary.

CTF said in a release that when it first heard of the tax expenditures for the treatments it was "implied that the said amounts were for cosmetic purposes," in an article published in the Winnipeg Sun in December 2005.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Another one bites the dust

It has been an awful year for media layoffs. To view the latest, check out CanMediaLayoffs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Batting .500

I called that reporter Mary Agnes Welch was leaving her beat at the legislature but I got her replacement wrong.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

To Iceland and beyond

Curtis' favourite Minister is unfairly getting criticized for going to Iceland to recruit skilled workers through the Provincial Nominee Program. Now there are huge holes in the arguments put forward that the province should train Aboriginal people or recruit out of work Ontario auto-workers instead of looking overseas.

Manitoba needs highly skilled workers in certain specific professions. We are talking doctors, engineers and geothermal installers. These workers are key to helping Manitoba businesses grow and keeping the economy out of a recession. It is a complete oversimplification to suggest that we should use Aboriginal labour or Ontario workers to fill these jobs.

Of course training Aboriginal people is important and the province has put a lot of effort and funding to train this largely untapped resource. However, Manitoba businesses need these high skilled workers now. It’s not like you can take a person and train them overnight to work as an engineer. It just doesn’t work that way.

It also doesn’t make any sense bringing auto-workers to Manitoba. Firstly, has no one noticed we don’t have an auto industry? Secondly, it’s not like you can say “hey buddy, you used to put cars together, how about installing these geothermal heat pump thingys”. They are both skilled jobs but with completely different technical requirements that require special skills. It's like asking a dentist to do a lung transplant.

Iceland has a huge geothermal industry and many highly trained workers possibly willing to relocate here. That’s why the province is recruiting there. Businesses have looked locally and couldn’t find people to fill the jobs (it’s a requirement under the Provincial Nominee Program that businesses prove that they have made an effort to fill the jobs with local people).

Manitoba needs immigrants for population and economic growth. Let’s not get caught up in the anti-immigration rhetoric now.