The highlights were all stuff I could easily get behind: increased R&D spending, increased education spending, eliminate the payroll tax, look at overall tax competitiveness (especially vis a vie the rest of the west).
Everyone involved had an underlying-though-sometimes-specific message for the NDP government to "Present a Vision For Manitoba Twenty Years For Now And Work Towards It".
Everyone who knows me knows that I believe the number one failing of the Gary Doer NDP Government is their inability (or lack of desire) to position Manitoba on stronger economic footing and to seize control of our economic destiny during these last few years when government revenues have been strong. There has been no vision and very little legacy to show for the previous decade.
And maybe the transfers bill will never show up. Maybe we can sit back and applaud the Quebec politics that keeps the transfer program going strong.
But what if we can't? What if Ontario, Alberta & BC - the three provinces seeing the biggest EI recipient gains - start to blow back and demand that the program changes?
What happens then Mr. Premier? Notice how we're all of a sudden beholden to forces we can no longer control? Is Manitoba really that strong if we have the proverbial Sword of Damocles hanging over 40% plus of our annual budget?
Anyhow, food for thought. In regards to the title of this post, Shannon Martin of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business made an interesting statement last night that really got me thinking:
Doesn't that just scream out at you as an area of concern? That over two-thirds of the payroll tax income comes from public source revenues simply swirling around some accounting ledgers?
"Frightening symbolic" was how I put it yesterday. There is an economic experiment being built in Manitoba and I am extremely concerned in that I'm not sure we're going to like the outcome of it.