Friday, January 30, 2009

NDP takes Sask Party govt. to task as it offers help.

This is from the Leader Post.
Although Premier Wall has been a loyal supporter of Harper, Saskatchewan seems to have received little in the federal budget. If the Sask. Party is to avoid losing political capital it will no doubt have to change its stance with respect to the federal Tories. Harper has helped out areas where he wants to make political gains. In areas where he is safe or where he has been rebuffed such as Quebec and Newfoundland he offers little or reduces spending. This policy is part and parcel of Harper's principles!

NDP takes Sask. Party government to task as it offers help

By James Wood , Saskatchewan News NetworkJanuary 29, 2009

REGINA -- The Opposition NDP is offering a helping hand — as well as the back of its hand — to Premier Brad Wall as he presses the federal Conservative government for more money.
NDP finance critic Harry Van Mulligen offered Thursday to join Premier Brad Wall and Finance Minister Rod Gantefoer in meeting with Saskatchewan’s 13 Tory MPs.
A day earlier, Wall had graded the big-spending budget a D for its five years of deficits, bottlenecks for infrastructure spending and neglect of the livestock sector and said he wanted to meet with the MPs.
While the NDP news release takes several swipes at Wall — deriding him as “out of touch” and saying he had supported the Conservatives “at every turn” — Van Mulligen said his offer is serious.
“There’s a tradition here that when we see a lack of attention on the part of the federal government — whether it’s in areas of agriculture, equalization or now, funding for infrastructure projects — that the Opposition proposes to the government in a constructive way that we present a united voice to the federal government,” he said in an interview.
Gantefoer said it was too early in the process to bring in the Opposition.
“I appreciate the gesture from Mr. Van Mulligen but I think we’ll soldier on and do the very best we can and we’re quite capable of dealing with the federal government,” he said in an interview.
Gantefoer said no meeting with MPs has yet been scheduled but he expects one to take place, as well as discussions between provincial cabinet ministers and their federal counterparts.
Federal Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz, the MP for Battlefords-Lloydminister, said Wednesday he would be happy to sit down with Wall and “walk him through” the budget to show him that Saskatchewan was well-served.
“I’m pleased to see Mr. Ritz is so confident that we would be very supportive if we got walked through the budget line by line. I’m willing to be overwhelmed but I’m a bit skeptical,” responded Gantefoer.
Perhaps the most notable “united front” of recent years was formed in 2005 when then-NDP Premier Lorne Calvert was joined by the Saskatchewan Party Opposition and the province’s Tory MPs, then in Opposition federally, in pushing the federal Liberal government for a new equalization deal for the province.
The makeshift alliance quickly fell apart under the weight of bickering among the strange political bedfellows. And the equalization deal sought was not achieved under either the Liberals or the Conservative government that took office in 2006.
The provincial NDP ended up in a bitter fight with the Tories over equalization while Wall has been viewed as one of Harper’s closest provincial allies with his policy of “give peace a chance.”
Van Mulligen acknowledged that the popular front on equalization was not a great success but said there were better results from working together on areas such as BSE and agriculture support.
Calvert, now Opposition leader, would take part in the meetings with the MPs as well if the government wished, said Van Mulligen.
© Copyright (c) The Regina

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