It’s time we did

The Manitoba legislature opened on Tuesday. The election is 11 months away and so we are in for an 11 month campaign. The NDP are running ridiculous attack ads on TV. It’s too bad that governments get tired and old but that’s what’s happening here in Manitoba. The NDP, without Gary Doer, and with 11 years of governing have basically run out of ideas. Actually, as was outlined in last week’s column, they have run out of money. It’s sad really, as the Manitoba government needn’t have run out of money. We could be in a balanced budget and have had lot more done than what has been accomplished.
Here’s some examples:
• Did we really need to build a Human Rights Museum? This luxury item is not something that really means much to the average citizen. The irony of a Human Rights Museum located at the The Forks is that it means many millions of dollars could have been diverted to providing clean water to every home in Manitoba. Having clean air and clean water is a basic human right that’s being ignored in Manitoba. Small rural communities, First Nations communities and other remote communities don’t have clean water. That they will now be able to see a picture of a Human Rights Museum on TV is small comfort when a child is suffering from a gut infection because of bacteria-laden water.
• Consider this. We pay the premier of Manitoba about $150,000 per year. That’s the top job in Manitoba’s government. Its a pretty good salary even by today’s standards. Why then do we pay dozens of people in government twice and three times that amount of money. Those in government will argue that we have to pay, $200 or $300 thousand to people or we won’t get the “best” people for the job.
I only have one question.”How’s that workin’ out for us?” Not so good I would say. Not only are we over paying hundreds of people, we aren’t getting very good decisions out of them. Case in point, last week’s column example of how the province wasted $16 million building a care home in Neepawa. The high priced help we have around are the same people that have given us a long list of bad decisions that have lead the province into a deficit. And for that over spending, we don’t have clean water, great roads or the best education and health care system
• Consider what we have to show for our over spending. Water systems are horribly deficient. Many First Nations communities are in disarray in many cases. Many rural villages and towns are dying. Our beef industry is in a mess. Our hog industry has largely disappeared from the smaller farms. Our business community is frustrated with the lack of progress. Roads are a shambles, our health care and education systems are slipping and there doesn’t seem to be any leadership that, pardon the expression, “gives a damn”.
• The real problem is two-fold. First, we lack articulate and effective leadership in our government. Second, if we so much as whisper a word about being more efficient or effective in government, the unions are all over it with media negativity. We need articulate and effective leadership but we also need another leadership trait. It’s called courage.
• Courageous leadership would say no to a new football stadium. Courageous leadership would have said no to a Human Rights Museum and cancel the west side Bi-Pole III  hydro line. Courageous leadership would give all the civil servants notice that salaries will be brought down to a level below the premier’s wages in two to three years. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth but we simply have to, as Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said, “Stop the gravy train.” If the civil servants that earn $200,000 a year are that good, surely they can find a private sector business that will hire them. If they can’t, the it’s proof positive that they are over paid.
• Consider this advice coming from this 62 year old publisher, former mayor, farmer and auctioneer and a political candidate in several elections: It’s time for the young people to step up and be heard. Yes, we need some age, wisdom and experience in government. But when we have people holding down jobs at $200,000 per year with all the perks of expense accounts and job security that comes with a high ranking civil servant position, we have gone way too far. Hire some 25 and 30 year olds to get the job done, encourage them, pay them a reasonable wage and save money at the same time.
• In summary, no position in government should earn more than the premier. No civil servant should earn more than the cabinet minister. It just doesn’t make sense. We are paying for way too much government and getting inadequate results. We might be able to tolerate the waste if we had clean water in every home, good roads to every town (we don’t even have roads to some communities) and if we had the best health care and education system in the world. We have none of those four simple conditions. It’s time we did.

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