Halifax, Nova Scotia – Today’s launch of the interim report of the government’s “independent” review of the province’s finances is an exercise in cynical political manipulation, says a new report issued today by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Nova Scotia Office. NDP governments have a history of releasing dire financial reports immediately after their election in order to dampen the expectations of their own members, the public, social movements and trade unions, says the report’s author, Saint Mary’s University professor Larry Haiven.
“We are in the middle of a serious recession, which is a trying time for any government, but if history is any guide, the NDP government will use the situation to exaggerate the crisis, especially in the long term, to permanently shrink the role of government.” The CCPA-NS report harkens to the Romanow NDP government in Saskatchewan. Taking office during in 1991 during another recession, it commissioned a similar 'independent' report to convince its progressive and left wing supporters that the government could not fulfil historical NDP promises.
The report, issued a few months after the 1991 election, predictably argued that Saskatchewan's finances were far worse than expected. That report was later found to contain serious faults in a study by Prof. Jim sentence, an economist at the University of Prince Edward Island.
“It seems likely that there is a political game being played designed to kill people's expectations of the government,” says Haiven. “Janice MacKinnon, a member of the Romanow Cabinet later wrote that it was necessary to arrange ‘…the appointment of an independent body to report on the magnitude of the fiscal crisis so that their would be support for the solution.’”
“The Saskatchewan NDP proceeded to do what nominally more right wing governments could only dream of doing,” maintains the CCPA-NS report. “Indeed it was able to do this precisely because it was the NDP.”
The government closed 52 of 132 hospitals in the provinces, eliminated hundreds of civil service positions, reduced health care and education spending and cancelled many vaunted social programs. Within three and a half years, the crisis had magically disappeared. The government was the first in Canada at the time to deliver a budgetary surplus. Ten years later, long after the crisis had passed, the NDP government had not restored what it had cut and had permanently shrunk government by ten percent, even as the economy was booming.
“Rather than kicking off its first major discussion of economic policy with a closed technical exercise by a mainstream accounting firm that will deaden spirits,” says Haiven, “the Nova Scotia NDP government should have opened up the discussion with a democratic forum that drew its inspiration from the NDP’s greatest strength — its connection to the grass roots, that balanced economic realities with the real needs and aspirations of the people of this province.”
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For more information or to obtain a copy of the full report go to www.policyalternatives.ca;
For media inquiries please contact Larry Haiven at (902) 240-2782.