Back when the Saskatchewan Party Government shut down rural liquor stores, it denied the remaining government liquor stores were also going to be sold or closed.
What a piece of fabrication!
The government announced in the October Throne speech this year that the 34 remaining stores will be closed in 2023.
Why wasn’t the government truthful about this when the rural stores closed? Apparently, the intent from day one has been to get out of retail liquor sales.
There are solid arguments for government to get out of the retail liquor business.
When government first regulated liquor sales the majority of voters were opposed to open liquor use and concerned about over-consumption but were okay with a regulated business,.
Attitudes have changed and it matters not to most people who sells booze.
The Saskatchewan government closure is solely about reducing the number of unionized employees on the government payroll – a long time goal of this party.
The main excuse for closing the profitable stores was flimsy. They need upgrades to remain competitive with private retailers and should be closed “before the red ink starts.”
Is this how the government will use private medical care facilities to destroy medicare?
When the Sask. Party government started retail liquor privatization the wheels were set in motion for eventual loss of business when private stores opened.
Now without investment the government stores will lose more, according to the minister in charge
That sends a strange message to business and farmers. If every farmer or business in this province, challenged with aging equipment and buildings, decided to close shop, Saskatchewan would have very little commerce.
Hopefully that’s not the way the province is being run.
The announcement just before Christmas hit the 350 soon-to-be jobless workers hard. The minister’s comment that workers can buy the old stores would only work if the employees get sweet deals like those leasing former PFRA community pastures.
So what can voters expect from this government by future privatization?
The Information Services Corporation, registering land titles and corporations, was partially privatized. Some functions in crown corporations have been handed to the private sector.
Next on the block is likely the casino operations in Regina and Moose Jaw. An agreement to sell them for a fire sale price to the Saskatchewan Indian Gaming Authority failed when the NDP opposition reneged on its approval.
Once the casinos are out of the picture, SaskEnergy will be next. The old Conservative Devine government split SaskEnergy from SaskPower with the idea of privatizing the operation.
That will leave SaskPower, Sasktel and SGI.
Look for dropping of hints that keeping up with technology change is too expensive for SaskTel. That was a reason Manitoba Conservatives gave for selling that province’s telephone corporation.
Why can’t the government just say: “we don’t believe in owning business and will sell?”
And we wonder why people trust politicians less than used car salespeople.
Ron Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.