Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Our Embarassing Nova Scotia Government

Let's talk about Bob. Bob earns $50,000 a year. He is currently in debt for $80,000, and he budgets to spend $60,000 over the next year. Can Bob survive indefinitely with this type of budget? Would we look at Bob and say,"Gee, Bob really has a plan to ensure he lives a high quality life in the future." No. Now let's say half way through the year of this budget Bob decides he could really improve his quality of life if he borrowed $10,000 to buy a jet ski. Anyone else think Bob has a serious problem?

And so it is with the Nova Scotia Government. As a whole we have an annual budget deficit of close to $500 million, a total debt of $13 billion, and revenues of just over $8 billion. These numbers alone paint a broad, yet alarming, picture. So what does our government do? They find a new project to spend more money on.

Today Premier Dexter announced to the province that the government would support a plan to build a new convention centre in downtown Halifax in partnership with the Halifax Regional Municipality and the federal government. The total cost to the Nova Scotian taxpayers, over the term of a 25 year capital lease, will work out to about $328 million. This is a government project, so the real cost will most likely be in the $500 million range (if we're lucky). $47 million of the funding is expected to come from the federal government.

Now, I could go on and on about how the tax payers in rural Nova Scotia and Cape Breton shouldn't be on the hook for a convention centre in Halifax. I could talk about how the province's finances are already in a mess. I could point out that we rely on 40% of our provincial revenues to come from the federal government (most of which come in the form of equalization payments). I could point out that its completely irresponsible for a whole province, essentially living on federal welfare, to undertake a project that our private sector will not fund for themselves. But that is not what bothers me the most.

Our government is supposed to lead, but unfortunately the only place they ever lead us is hat in hand to Ottawa. They've become experts at it. The Department of Intergovernment Affairs costs Nova Scotian taxpayers millions of dollars a year with the sole purpose of going to Ottawa to bring home the bacon. And to introduce a new project that requires Nova Scotians to beg the rest of Canada for funds once again? This has gotten to be embarrassing. Extraordinarily so. As a Nova Scotian, this is what bothers me the most. I don't beg for money to support myself, and our government, our representation to the rest of the country, shouldn't be begging to support itself. Especially when it just wants to buy a jet ski it can't afford on its own.


Christopher Furlong: said...

Social services are not like jet skis. Government spending is not like personal spending.

Chris said...

The government is not embarrassing, but business majors that compare apples to watermelons certainly are.

Furlong said...

Are you under the impression that a convention centre is a social service?

Chris said...

A convention center is not the same as jet skis.

Furlong said...

I think the analogy is fair.

Chris said...


Households do not control the money supply. Providing a place to gather is a fundamental role of government. Jet skis are a luxury, not a fundament.

Furlong said...

The provincial government doesn't control the money supply.

There is no function the government could perform which you would find unacceptable, and there is no matter of funding that government could use which you would find unacceptable.

Therefore, discussion over.

Chris said...

Nice rhetoric.

The provincial government is part of the Canadian government, which is a federal system. The government controls the money supply, be it federal or provincial.

Furlong said...

The Bank of Canada is a crown corporation which means the federal government owns it, but it is run by private bankers.

In regard to the provincial government being part of the federal government, most Canadians (the majority of Albertans, Newfoudlanders, and Quebecers) would be insulted by such stupid statement. The provincials and federal governments exist in a power sharing relationship, but that which the federal government has domain over, the provinces do not, and therefore the provinces have absolutely nothing to do with the Bank of Canada.

Declaring that the provincial government has control over the money supply is like saying a household has control over the money supply...they both use the same currency and neither has squat to do with who prints it.