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Alternative speech offered

WINNIPEG — Recently, Premier Greg Selinger gave his annual State of the Province speech to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

It was full of the usual boasts about spending money on various projects, but it also lacked innovative ideas and empathy with everyday taxpayers. So here’s an alternative speech the premier could have delivered (and the following are real numbers.)

“Ladies and gentlemen, I want to begin today by noting that our government has heard you loud and clear. We understand that families across Manitoba are feeling the pinch from the PST increase, big school tax increases as well as municipal property tax hikes and large hydro rate increases.

We know that many families are struggling as inflation and taxes are going up faster than people’s incomes. Plain and simple, government needs to be more affordable for people.

We’re not too proud to acknowledge that we made a mistake with the PST increase.

That’s why the PST will be going back down to seven per cent as of April 1, 2014. Some will say it can’t be done, but the amount of money brought in by the PST increase only represents a couple per cent of total government spending. We can easily be two or three per cent more efficient.

After all, our government’s total spending has doubled since our party took office in 1999. It’s time to aggressively review spending to find savings options.

Tomorrow, I’m striking an all-party committee to find savings and advise on how government spending can be more sustainable. Yes, I’m going to try to work with both opposition parties.

And to show that I’m serious about savings, I’m going to start doing a better job of leading by example.

My predecessor, Gary Doer, only had 16 people in his cabinet. Currently, there are 19. We all know that every provincial politician who is put in cabinet receives a pay increase, a government vehicle, more staff and other benefits. That’s why I’m going to cut my cabinet back down to 16 members.

I’m also going to enforce the 40 per cent pay cut that cabinet ministers are supposed to take when we run deficits. As many know, we changed the rules to make it only a 20 per cent pay cut, but that’s not right. We need to get our deficit and debt under control; the doubling of the debt over the last decade cannot continue.

Those two moves will help send a strong signal to the bureaucracy that I’m serious about belt tightening so that we can save Manitobans money.

Upon further review, we’ve noticed that there is a lot of room in the bureaucracy to trim savings.

While I have already announced a reduction of 600 bureaucrat positions, it looks like we actually increased the bureaucracy by 1,200 positions leading up to that announcement. Thus, we need to do better.

Our government will also be looking at more partnerships with the private sector. Saskatchewan is going to save $93 million by having hospitals partner with a business to clean hospital linens. We’re going to look at more partnerships like that, too.

Our roads and highways need a lot of work. That is why proposals for discretionary projects like new stadiums or convention centres will be turned down for five years. Instead, we’re going to put the savings toward road and highway repair.

To improve confidence in our democratic system, I am announcing that Manitoba will soon have recall legislation, just like British Columbia.

My government will also be giving our provincial ombudsman the power to force government departments to release information.

Clearly these ideas represent a big shift for our government, but I have heard you loud and clear. The next State of the Province speech will be celebrated with lower taxes, better roads and services, and a more transparent and accountable government.

Thank you.”

» Colin Craig is the Prairie Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a non-partisan citizens’ advocacy group fighting for lower taxes, less waste and accountable government.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 17, 2013

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WINNIPEG — Recently, Premier Greg Selinger gave his annual State of the Province speech to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

It was full of the usual boasts about spending money on various projects, but it also lacked innovative ideas and empathy with everyday taxpayers. So here’s an alternative speech the premier could have delivered (and the following are real numbers.)

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WINNIPEG — Recently, Premier Greg Selinger gave his annual State of the Province speech to the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.

It was full of the usual boasts about spending money on various projects, but it also lacked innovative ideas and empathy with everyday taxpayers. So here’s an alternative speech the premier could have delivered (and the following are real numbers.)

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