Brad Wall calls for post-recession plan
Speaking in advance of the First Ministers' Conference, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has called upon his counterparts to help establish a coordinated post-recession plan.
“We need to talk about the future. How does Canada emerge from this recession?” Wall asked. “Are we going to focus on the knowledge economy, on an innovation agenda that can create jobs for the longer term?”
Speaking about each Province's and each jurisdiction's "innovation strengths", Wall suggested that, “Maybe we identify what those strengths [in each province] are so there can be a co-ordinated approach."
Wall certainly isn't in a hurry to declare the recession to be over. Not only is it not true, but it would certainly come with demonstrable political consequences.
“I think everybody is really hesitant to say, ‘Hey, the recession is over,’" Wall admitted. "As long as somebody is not working today, because they’ve lost their job in the recession, how would they feel [about that statement].”
“There’s positive signs ... but I think all the premiers and the government of Canada needs to be vigilant about getting us firmly on that road to recovery,” he added.
Of course, despite the unsurprising enthusiasm of certain individuals for central planning, Wall's proposed coordinated post-recession plan shouldn't be mistaken for central planning.
While such individuals may want to condescend their way out of admitting it, the most fundamental weakness of central planning is that it ignores the specific and individual needs of specific and individual regions and industries.
While certain individuals are almost certain to not understand this, Brad Wall clearly does, as do his fellow Premiers.
"I’ve heard the premiers of Central Canada say pretty clearly that they understand that each province has a different challenge and each province has a different approach,” Wall explained.
To expect a central plan to be able to adequately balance the needs of Alberta's oil-based economy, Saskatchewan's burgeoning oilpatch or Ontario's manufacturing-based economy would be foolish. Thankfully, Canada's Premiers understand this, even if others do not.
Another measure to emerge out of the First Ministers' Conference could be Harmonized Sales Taxes in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Prince Edward Island.
Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has offered federal funds to help facilitate the harmonization of the three provinces' Provincial Sales Tax with the GST -- a deal Ontario and British Columbia have already taken advantage of.
"We'll see what their governments decide to do," Flaherty said. "But the same proposal -- in terms of transition funding -- that we made with the province of Ontario followed by the province of British Columbia is available to those provinces as well."
"This is solid economic policy in the long run for Canadian businesses and therefore for Canadian jobs and for growth of the Canadian economy," he added.
Whatever the results of the First Ministers' Conference may be, one thing is certain: if each Province's Premier returns from the conference with a better idea of how Canada can move forward out of the recession, and beyond, the value of this will far outstrip their efforts.