from regina, saskatchewan.

Queen Elizabeth II welcomes visitors to Saskatchewan's Legislative Assembly.

I am in the rainy and windy city of Regina, Saskatchewan for the week. While taking a walk around downtown Regina this afternoon (and to the Legislative Assembly), I noticed a lot of buildings that are a rare sight in my home province of Alberta: a lot of crown corporation headquarters.

Regular blogging will resume soon.

8 replies on “from regina, saskatchewan.”

My family moved to Regina from small town Saskatchewan when I was 7 years old, and we lived there until I was 16, when we moved to Saskatoon. My father worked for virtually his whole working life for the Saskatchewan Power Corporation [SPC], and I worked full and part time while doing my B.A. at the U of S for the Saskatchewan Transportation Company [STC]. Growing up in both Regina and Saskatoon, I had friends whose parent worked for such as Saskatchewan Government Insurance [SGI] and Saskatchewan Government Telephones [SaskTel]; also while going to the U of S I had friends who worked for the Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan [PCS].

Every term, in the Sociology class I now teach at Grant MacEwan University, when it comes time to talk about monopolies I talk about the Crown Corporations in Saskatchewan. Because they truly are examples of monopolies.

But here’s the thing about those monopolies – they budget to break even – not to make a profit. And as a result, the citizens of Saskatchewan pay less for utilities (electricity and gas), telephone service, bus transportation, and home and (especially) auto insurance than citizens anywhere else in Canada. And by the way, any “profit” made by those Crown Corporations (and they almost always make a profit – defined as an excess of revenues over expenditures, since they budget to end up at 0 revenues over expenses) goes into the general revenues of the Province, and helps to provide funding for other programs like social services, education, and health care.

Yes, provincial taxes are higher in Saskatchewan than Alberta (and progressive), and there is a provincial sales tax – both of which mean far more stable funding of government services than in Alberta, where the level of government funding for needed services is subject to fluctuating energy prices.

So why am I living in Alberta? Well, I’ve lived in Alberta most of my adult life and raised my family here. I moved to Alberta because there were far more opportunities here than in Saskatchewan, as I was starting out my working life, and that remains true today for my children. As well, while Regina and Saskatoon are big cities when compared to small town Saskatchewan, they are really “barely” cities when compared with Edmonton and Calgary. I expect it will be in the coming decade that both Red Deer and Ft McMurray will pass Regina and Saskatoon in population.

Still, it seems ironic to me that the accepted ideology in Alberta is that Crown Corporations are somehow anathema to the public good. If one considers Crown Corporations to be corporations whose shareholders are the citizenry of the province, and whose sole purpose is to benefit the citizenry, how is that any different from any other corporation – whose sole purpose is to benefit its shareholders? The difference is that instead of a (relative) few benefiting greatly, all benefit some. If you are one of the relative few, I can understand not wanting to mess with that, but if you’re one oft the vast majority, how does that make any sense?

No. The difference is that crown corporations crowd out any other competitors and thus any innovation. They also become provincial senates that hire the people who are patsies to the government of the day.

Stop being so communist and wake up. Tommy Douglas has failed.

I disagree with Joe Albertan. Crowns are ways to allow for the public good to be a factor in what would otherwise be purely market-driven decisions, not all of which serve the public interest. Crown corporations can also serve markets that are unprofitable (e.g. rural electrical, phone or internet services), or they can introduce competition into a market that is otherwise too immature or too consolidated to support it. The difference is that to many right-wingers, the very concept of the public good is anathema. There is only the private good. They jealously guard the so-called “rights” of corporations, even though in reality only people have rights. The irony is that those same right-wingers are the first to clamour loudly for taxpayer support when large private corporations are in financial trouble, cloaking their arguments in concern for loss of jobs.

The Saskatchewan socialist model has failed. That is why Alberta’s economy is 5 times larger than Saskatchewan even though Saskatchewan has just as much oil, natural gas and oilsands resources.

Joe, don’t tell me you’re completely satisfied with the slow speed of your broadband and the high rates of your cable/cell phone bills compared to the rest of the world. Innovation my foot!

That’s up to the private sector to decide. Not the government. The socialist PC’s don’t get it, only the Wildrose Alliance does.

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