Monday 15 August 2011

2011 Manitoba provincial election platform

If you elect me as Premier, this is what I will do:

- balance budget ahead of schedule
- strengthen balanced budget legislation, including requirement to balance gross budget incl. crown corps on 3 year moving average basis.
- reduce dependency on equalization payments
- end defined benefit pensions for public employees in favour of defined contribution (grandfather basis).

- reinstate a 1% income tax for small business (is 1% really too much?)
- phase out the payroll tax
- enact legislation to require the indexing of all income tax brackets. (see here)
- raise basic personal exemption 20% per year for first term.
- reduce education component of property tax & eliminate operational and capital funding for cities/municipalities. (see here)

- allow school divisions to close underutilized schools and redeploy resources
- consolidate school divisions
- lift university tuition freeze

- remove requirement for City of Winnipeg to remove nitrogen from wastewater (save $350m)
- fast track & help fund improvements to reduce the release of raw sewage into the Red River by the City of Winnipeg.
- review management of water levels and improve drainage, especially in the Interlake region.
- assess cost and practicality of replacing Hecla causeway with a bridge.

- immediately stop development of west-side Bipole III route and re-start assessment process for east-side route.
- direct PUB & Hydro to reduce electricity costs for base residential levels, and charge market rates for everything above that (inverted rates).
- reduce red tape allowing small private generators to feed electricity back into the grid.

- encourage private clinics to operate in MB
- review effectiveness of the regional health authorities and hospital bureaucracies and eliminate redundancies in administration.
- fire 1000 nurses and doctors. (just kidding. yeesh.)

- review building and electrical codes for hog barns and other animal barns.
- re-evaluate hog farm moratorium based on best scientific evidence.

- restrict scope of taxi cab board to safety-related concerns only. Open up taxi industry to competition.
- open up rural bus service to competition, eliminating Grey Hound's monopoly. Allow companies to bid on routes.
- improvements to Trans Canada Hwy, Perimeter Hwy & Hwy 75 including overpasses for key intersections, increasing speed limits to 110 km/h for entire lengths.

(to the extent possible)
- focus on rehabilitation for first & second offenses for property crimes and minor offenses, with exponentially harsher penalties for each additional offense (see here)
- crack down on parole violations
- implement training and educational opportunities for prisoners, and make them mandatory for any prison terms longer than 6 months
- parole must be earned through the completion of education or training.
- scale back penalties for DUI, but implement a new tier of criminal offense for: DUI over twice the legal limit, DUI while speeding & DUI while texting, with much harsher penalties. (see here)
- make penalty for texting and driving equivalent to DUI
- include hands-free cell phones in cell phone driving ban. (see here)
- *NEW* expedite serious offenses in the court system

- scrap rent controls and accompanying regulations, and restrict condo conversions until vacancy rates improve. (see here & here)
- immediately rescind all provincial funding to the Upper Fort Garry heritage park or whatever it's called.
- ban advertising by public sector unions in the 6 months preceding an election.
- revise Liquor Control Act to allow private beer boutiques and the importing of wine and beer independently of the MLCC.

This is a living document. Let me know if something here is out to lunch, or if you have a better idea, and I may very well update this list. If you have a blog, post your own platform!


flyboy95 said...

"remove requirement for City of Winnipeg to remove nitrogen from wastewater (save $350m)"

How then would the eutrophication problem in Lake Winnipeg be lessened or solved? Simply relying on citizens won't significantly reduce the amounts of nitrogen being poured into the lake.

@Pylons15 said...

YouTuber09 - eutrophication problem is independent of nitrogen levels in the watershed, as has been demonstrated by 30+ yrs of research around the world, not least of which that conducted at the Experimental Lakes facility south-east of Kenora. Big problem is phosphorus - the algae can obtain their nitrogen directly from the atmosphere.

@Pylons15 said...

_cherenkov: nice post and am in general agreement, with a few exceptions:
- MLCC should be phased out entirely
- a lot of spending but not a lot of specifics on cuts to pay for them
- Hecla causeway? what's the issue?
- Upper Fort Garry - sorry, but that's too big of an historical legacy not to be developed properly and we're not talking about a $100M (or more) project here.
- need to add to the Ed. Funding section that a 5-yr goal should be set to make it entirely funded from General Revenues, then chop the no. of divisions.

Anonymous said...

I would actually vote again if you ran with this platform.

cherenkov said...

@youtuber: what Pylons said.

@pylons: maybe I'll get rid of MLCC in my second term. I am generally pretty happy with MLCC, but I think there needs to be more competition and choice .. esp. in beer and wine.

In terms of cuts: 40% of our budget goes to health care. A bit chunk of that to administration. A friend who worked with MB Finance told me stories of recommendations for cost reductions in health care that the gov't refused to consider for purely political reasons. There is much opportunity there.

Hecla causeway has been blamed by scientists on screwing up the currents in Lake MB making the water quality problems worse. I am not really sure about this one, but thought it might be worth investigating.

Don't get me started on UFG. It's more a matter of principle at this point. Don't need to drive out residential development in order to be respectful of our past.

rosencrentz said...

Why try and stop getting money from the "rich" Provinces? Doesn't make sense! We want more money to do more things that our esteemed politicians want to do! If we could get another Billion dollars that would give is 6% more money to help out.

Grumpy Old Man said...

Great stuff... Love to see all parties post their platform like this. In advance. Released when the election is called.

cherenkov said...

Rosen, as always your logic is impeccable.

@anon: all I need are some lawn signs, a campaign manager, lots of money and a name for my party!

@GOM. Thanks. I agree .. lay it all out there and campaign on it.

Anonymous said...

You have my vote, where do I sign up?

Anonymous said...

Hydro Bipole down the West? You're talkin' out yer ass.

One Man Committee said...

The point that caught my attention was reducing dependence on equalization payments. How can this be done without either significantly reducing costs (i.e. cutting services) or without raising taxes?

I think Canadians generally read far too much into equalization. The day that Sask's natural resource revenues put them into the net contributor side of the equalization ledger, you'd think that there had been a sea change overnight and all their problems have been solved. But for the most part, people in Sask still drive on the same crappy rural roads past the same shuttered rural hospitals and shrinking (unless they're in the oil patch) towns. So far as I can tell, Sask's contributor status has allowed it to make its mark by reducing taxes to a total load somewhere between Manitoba and Alberta, depending on the measure.

All I'm saying is that if the equalization program is designed to help provinces that don't have money coming out of the ground the way some do, why not take advantage of it?

Anonymous said...

I like how the crime section is the only one getting a qualifying note [to the extent possible].

Parole is the mandate of the feds, so you're stuck there. How about 'no early release provisions' for offenders convicted of medium-serious violent offences and up? [Asst. with weapon, intimidation etc.]

All provincial offenders know that the sentence the judge gives isn't the one they'll ultimately serve. Hell, even the judges tell them as much.

Mandating training won't work because the layabouts will drag down the ones who see the opportunity, I suspect.

Opening the door to the two-tier DUI penalties would just clog the courts more than they already are — everyone charged would fight the breath-blood data, I suspect.

How about this: All serious violent offences in Manitoba are direct indicted to trial to speed up the process, save prosecutor time and provide 'speedy justice'? The Attorney General could make this happen if he or she wanted.

In the states, many first-degree murders hit trial at 6 months to a year after a suspect is charged. Here — most homicides go into the black hole of the system for years, and my personal belief is that this is wrong.

Gustav Nelson said...

Great post and platform!! It's something I could get behind.
Some things I find problematic and/or helpful:
"- reinstate a 1% income tax for small business (is 1% really too much?)" - Ridding of all corporate income taxes is the route to be heading. It's the consumers that pay the cost, why pay twice.

Education - Move to a voucher system and privatize schooling.

Environment: Offer a subsidy to property owners that convert/retain their property as marshland.
-Remove (or work towards) Hydro Dams from Lake Winnipeg to Hudson Bay allowing for natural flushing of nutrients and sediments in water.

Health Care: Move towards a voucher based system/basic coverage, similar to Switzerland and privatize health

Crime: Eliminate all texting/speeding/DUI laws and implement standard reckless driving laws with at fault liability to those who cause accidents. Laws should apply equally to those eating and driving and those applying their make up.

Although I like the idea of banning union advertising, I don't like the idea of restricting free speech. That shouldn't be included, but allow political parties to spend more on advertising.

Ever need a campaign manager, let me know!!

@OMC: You grow the economy, so there are more people contributing.
The reason why equalization should be relied on less is because governments, like the current NDP, have become dependent on them rather than having to make real decisions.

cherenkov said...

@OMC: The equalization item is more of an indirect long term objective, but I think it's worth striving for. Like Gustav suggests, dependence on provincial pogey interferes with proper decision-making, and all provinces would be better off if each individual province strived to be self sufficient, even if they can't get there. We should at least try to get there.

@crime: thanks for the suggestions. I would be OK with the no early release, but I still like the idea of training and that parole should be earned, not automatic. re. 2-tier DUI: how would the second tier be any different than the first tier in terms of court challenges? The thing is, being 0.160 or more vastly increases your chances of an accident vs. 0.080. Why is the penalty the same?

I like the idea of expediting serious offenses, unless it means the crown lacks the time to build a proper case.

@Gustav: a lot of small businesses are individuals -- consultants and alike. Not your proverbial cupcake shop. Tax 'em 1%. Revenue.

Education: not ready to privatize yet, and public would not accept. Current system can be improved. I'm trying to be pragmatic

Interesting idea re. marshland. Some farmers involuntarily converted this year. I don't think removing hydro dams is realistic tho.

Healthcare: agree, but I think these kind of reforms are in the hands of the Fed. gov't.

Crime: I hear what you're saying, but still think we need an impaired driving law on the books.

Thanks for the campaign manager offer! Your first task: pick up a case of Newcastle. ;-)

cherenkov said...

Thanks for the feedback everyone!

@crime: I added a bullet about expediting serious offenses. I may consult with my cop buddy before making further changes.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on "earned release" — even officials have been calling for this for a while now. [CSC report on parole 2008]

You have a point about two-tier DUI challenges. All I really was thinking is if a person is borderline [.12 or whatever] they'd fight tooth and nail to try and get it bumped down to tier 1. How about — three DUI convictions and the province pays for your bus pass? Caught in a car and that's automatic two years less a day on a breach of the public safety.

Other notes:

Criminal property forfeiture: Mandate that a minimum of 50 per cent of the value of assets seized be returned to law-enforcement agencies, and the rest be apportioned to Crime prevention and victim services agencies. Last govt. news release stated 10 per cent of assets so far went back to policing projects.

Write a new regulation stating police agencies shall use federal property seizure laws already on the books. They are often overlooked, especially when it comes to bootleggers and pushers up north. Start seizing planes and boats.

Provide regular updates from the public safety investigations department. They do a lot of good work that goes totally unnoticed.

Police services should table their plan to reduce serious violent crime. I know WPS is working on this, but nothing yet. Be nice to see RCMP do same. Mandate some form of public consultation to determine goals and objectives for police.

Anonymous said...

I'd change the Balanced Budget requirement. Instead of having it apply to all (including Crown Corporations), have it apply only to general operating account and don't have it apply to crown corps. This would allow crown corps to operate more truly as arms length entities, and force the government to focus on core operating activities. of course this would be really hard to accomplish if you don't have the revenue from MLCC and MLC. ( Which should flow into capital and infrastructure renewal)

unclebob said...

Do you know how easy it actually is to start a new party in Manitoba?
That status will allow you to accept donations and give a tax receipt and a number of other nice little financial things.

cherenkov said...

@Bob: as easy as it may be, I'm still far too lazy to do it.

@Brian: I was thinking there should be 2 components: one for operational like you suggest, and one for overall to keep mgmt of crown corps in line and prevent excessive raiding of money from crowns to balance the operating budget. Overall requirement would be rolling 3 year to allow flexibility. (note: I stole this idea from somewhere else, but I don't remember where).

@crime: where does the other 90% of seized assets currently go? General revenues?

Good suggestions ..

Melissa Martin said...

I'm honoured to have made a humble impact on your policy platform! Thank you.

Additionally, I would like to see our next government make even more rainbow-coloured lists.

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