Bills damaging to all Manitobans

The corridors of the Manitoba legislature are getting mighty crowded these days. Normally the hallways contain one or two MLAs or civil servants moving from office to office. Not these days as dozens of Manitobans are lining up to be heard, mostly in opposition to a wide range of government bills.
A host of bills have passed second reading in the legislature and now they are at the committee stage. That means MLAs from all parties listen to presentations from the public and from organizations as to the merits and shortcomings of the various bills.
Bill 37 amends the Elections Finance Act. As The Banner goes to print about two dozen of the over 100 presenters have appeared at committee. The predominate stumbling point of Bill 37 is that it takes $500,000 of taxpayers money and doles it out to the political parties at the rate of $1.25 per vote. The NDP have fallen far behind the PCManitoba party in fund raising from their donors in the past year or so and this bill serves to bolster the NDP coffers in proportion to their votes in the last election so they will get well over half the tax dollars in this scheme. And worse yet, it will happen every year, at least until the next election if Bill 37 passes. Bill 37 also sets up a situation where MLAs won’t be able to send out advertising and letters to their constituents until it has been “approved” by the government dominated editing committee.. Yes, you read that correctly, your next information piece from your MLA will have to be approved by the government if Bill 37 passes. One would think that Manitoba was in to Russia of the 1950s.
Bill 17, the hog moratorium bill, has yet to come to committee. It may be heard on Monday. If and when it comes to committee, there will be over 300 people awaiting to speak. At the time of this writing, over 300 people have signed up, mostly in opposition to a bill that basically forbids building hog barns just about anywhere in Manitoba east of Portage La Prairie.
That’s scary enough for Manitoba’s agriculture industry and the economy, but even worse Dauphin MLA and minister of Conservation Stan Struthers has said in the legislature that the government plans to move “sector by sector, case by case” on restricting agricultural development.
The fear among farmers is who is next?. The government already has the power to shut down any sector of agriculture in spite of the strong rules in place with planning boards and the Clean Environment Commission rules. All that and common sense, has been over ridden in this bill and agriculture is in real trouble in Manitoba. Even crop growers and forage growers are being threatened as more and more rules are being imposed.
Bill 38 is the one the NDP government really wants to get through. According the Wednesday edition of the Winnipeg Free Press, the NDP offered to delay Bill 37 and Bill 17 in order to get Bill 38 through. The reason Bill 38 is their priority is that it means the NDP don’t have to balance the budget in the future. Bill 38 means they will be able to take all the profits from Crown Corporations, plunk them into the operating budget and carry on spending like drunken sailors. (my apologies to the sailors). No longer will Finance Minister Sellinger have to pretend he’s balanced the budget and that the net debt is way below the actual debt, he’ll just be able to say it’s all good as long as Hydro, MLCC, the Lotteries Commission and Autopac keep pouring dollars into the government’s books.
The reason the NDP want Bill 38 passed is that under current legislation, if the books don’t balance, the cabinet ministers are fined $20,000. By the end of this fiscal year, at the current rate of income and expense and without Bill 38 the cabinet ministers could be facing big fines. No wonder the cabinet ministers have a pained expression their faces.

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