Nova Scotia Election- the day after

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KenS
Nova Scotia Election- the day after

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Stockholm

Almost everyone on the list above is from Halifax - won't Dexter have to put in some people from rural areas in the cabinet?

KenS

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KenS
KenS

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sandpiper

NS Election... the month after

From the Herald:


Nova Scotia's fledgling Green party has less than a month to save itself from being scratched off the province's list of recognized political parties — and missing out on public funding.

Elections Nova Scotia says the party, which earned status as a recognized party in 2006, missed an April deadline to submit required financial information on contributions.

Agency spokesman Dana Doiron says a letter was sent to the party Friday indicating the chief electoral officer was ``initiating deregistration.''

Doiron says the Greens were given 30 days to meet their obligations and explain why they should remain a registered party in the province.

He says the Greens have received more than $307,000 since 2007, based on a public funding formula.

KenS

This already happened in Alberta, and the AGP had a far higher vote share... let alone that the NSGP has public funding at stake.

The AGP was so disorganized that financial records that could be audited could not be assembled. Its hard to say whether the NSGP is terminaly disorganized like that, or just way behind [and/or immobilized because reluctant to reveal something].

Even if they are terminaly disorganized and get de-registered, big questions will not go away about where the money is or went... given that what everyone can see of the NSGP could hardly have cost any more than about a third of that $300,000+

KenS

You cannot overstate how simple a NSGP financial statement should be.

Their 2007 report is a few univrsal minimalist boilerplate paragraphs, and a few line items swimming in a sea of white space.

There are really only 2 likely ways to get derailed from such a simple process [and you know they've been getting warnings they must file very soon].

One way to get derailed is in a more or less simple juvenile power struggle- where someone has the records or enough of them and because of an ongoing "larger" power struggle simply refuses to cough them up.

And/or that someone is not coughing up records- without which there would be too big a hole to have an audit that meets regulatory requirements- because they have something to hide. So there are too many checks for which receipts or invoices "cannot be found".

A few months back I complained to Mr.Dorion that I could not get the 2007 statement. He explained that the requirement is the party makes it accessible to the public; that he had seen it on the old NSGP blogpost; and that he would inform them it has to be on the new website. At the same time I talked to him someone provided me with the statement [who must have got it earlier on that blogpost]. The NSGP has not since posted the 2007, let alone the now overdue 2008 financial statement.

KenS

Just a note that I didn't read the story carefully enough.

"Elections Nova Scotia says the party missed an April deadline to submit required financial information on contributions.

 

So the deadline has passed for the 2008, but they are being threatened with de-registration over something before that.

 

And even stranger since besides public funding the NSGP raises under $1,000 from contributions in a year. [Literaly.]

sandpiper

Interesting. When interviewed, Dana Doiron said:

"That's a process, not an event. There are a number of things that will be part of that process, including having the leaders of the Green party, particularly the official agents, to respond why they should not be deregistered."

Green Party Leader Ryan Watson, when interviewed, said:

"I'm not aware of any penalties as of this point except of course if we fail to get it in, in which case the party would cease to exist."

It seems as if Watson doesn't feel the deadline was a 'hard' deadline... that as long as they eventually hand the info in, they'll be fine... while Doiron has now gone even further - saying that in addition to receiving the info he wants to hear from the OAs... if the Green Party had 1/3 name-on-ballot candidates, would they have REAL official agents?

ottawaobserver

KenS wrote:

At any rate, their invisible Leader gets a full time salary of $32,000, while the Organizer who is both competent and gets quoted outside the election campaign time when the media looks for someone to quote [less then about 5 times a year].

Sorry, Ken, but I didn't quite get what you meant in this paragraph?

KenS

I managed to get ahold of the 2008 NSGP financial statement- which is neither "published"  [by May 1], nor is it audited, as required by the Act

At any rate, their invisible Leader gets a full time salary of $32,000, while the Organizer who is both competent and gets quoted outside the election campaign time when the media looks for someone, makes $19,000.

Given that in 2007 the Organizer got a similar amount [and the Leader was not paid- nor liked by the Executive]... I'm curious who the $32,000 of "Professional Fees" went to. Bet your booties not polling or research, and they didn't even have a website then. No one is entitled by regulations to know that information- but if I was a Green I'd sure be asking.

One thing that was going on back then is that the May operation in Central Nova was being kicked off. And the Exec member who became Interim Leader [when the Leader quit over budget decision making] later surfaces as the Green Party of Canada Regional Organizer.

KenS

Me, obscure?

Putting in missing words and key info might help:

"At any rate, their invisible Leader gets a full time salary of $32,000, while the Organizer who is both competent and gets quoted outside the election campaign time when the media looks for someone to quote, makes $19,000."

ottawaobserver

Oh, OK ... thanks.  $19,000, eh?  Not for a full-time job I hope.

KenS

Nope, invisible Leader gets paid as if it was a full time job. But the Organizer who is more visible other than at elections, apparently is only paid half-time.

And somebody[s] in about a half year of 2007 was paid more still than the Leader.

KenS

Update, front page story today:

Greens could fade to black

 

http://thechronicleherald.ca/NovaScotia/1129837.html

remind remind's picture

From kenS link

Quote:
For the Greens, the two years of base funding are over, so the party is left receiving $1.50 per vote. The party received a little more than two per cent of the vote in the June election, with less than 9,600 votes across the province. That leaves it with a little more than $14,000 a year in public funding.

Is that why EMay is moving along? :D

KenS

Nova Scotia's Greens are in disarray

 

http://thechronicleherald.ca/Opinion/1130941.html

remind remind's picture

I would say more than the NS GP are actually.

Unionist

Haven't heard a thing about the new government's priorities, so here's a CCPA release:

[url=http://www.policyalternatives.ca/news/2009/09/article2309/]... Provincial Budget for Nova Scotia – balancing priorities[/url]

Quote:

According to Christine Saulnier, Director of CCPA-NS and Chair of the working group: “We need to have real democratic debate and dialogue in this province about balancing short-term crisis management, with long term crisis prevention. We need to get to a place where the focus is on getting at the root causes of the problems and sustainable solutions.” Instead, citizens are being told that the main role of government is to balance budgets. The government does have a responsibility to implement a debt management plan, but it must be one that is reasonable given its other responsibilities. During this economic recession the government has a big role to play –one that ensures that the recession is not prolonged and that its effects are alleviated as much as possible.

According to Economist and working group member Angella MacEwen, “As it stands there is no fiscal crisis and the debt is manageable and justified as is the current deficit. The government’s debt-to-GDP ratio does not justify making debt payments at the expense of adequately funding health, education and other social services.” Alarming the public over the deficit and debt detracts from discussions about what policies and programs the government should be pursuing in the best interests of Nova Scotians.

 

remind remind's picture

well...seeing as how, this is not in response to anything the NS government has done, or not done, but a presentation of what they believe needs to be done, one will have to wait and see, what the NS government actually will do.

V. Jara

This is a predictable line, that CCPA members have been promoting for a while now. The problem is that Nova Scotia is poor and promotes deficit financing at its own risk. It is also too small an economy, and perhaps government, to have much of a countervailing effect against the larger economic forces of the global recession. It's up to the province to pick its poison. I doubt the NDP will cut health care or education but there will have to be some serious cutbacks somewhere if Dexter is determined to balance the budget.

Unionist

remind wrote:
well...seeing as how, this is not in response to anything the NS government has done

Of course it isn't. It's a response to what the NS government is saying should be done:

Quote:
... citizens are being told that the main role of government is to balance budgets.

Quote:
Alarming the public over the deficit and debt detracts from discussions about what policies and programs the government should be pursuing in the best interests of Nova Scotians.

Just because the CCPA is being polite, their stern note of caution should not be missed. It's better to warn about neo-liberal economic policies before they're implemented than to whine about them after, don't you think?

And V. Jara's post seems to validate the CCPA's fears.

 

KenS

The trial baloon has already been floated [not "officially"] that the deficit will not be cut for at least a year or two. And its pretty unlikley there will be any cuts to social services either. With health and education, thats the bulk of the budget.

Unionist

Then that's great news. Looking forward to seeing this government make a real difference in people's lives.

 

KenS

I didn't say or imply that, nor am I so expecting.

I was making the point that by the time it is being quoted here those parts of the report have been largely passed by events... not to mention that the comments themselves even when they were made were a tad boilerplated to any budget situation anywhere.

The problem was never that the NSNDP was 'scaring the public'- it was that they felt they had to make the dubious election campaign budget pledge.

As Victor noted, or at least implied, by any measure the size of the budget and its structural underpinnings are by no means slight or easily dealt with.

KenS

For what its worth, the government does appear to have successfully stepped away from their budget election pledge. Too early to say for sure. But no one is disagreeing that it was not wise, nor that they are expected to keep it. So, pressure from that quarter on the budget is unlikely. [The usual suspects will rail, but it will slide off the government.]

The pressure that remains is that the basic fiscal situation is unsustainable- even more so now that the offshore gas royalties seem to have gone substantially earlier than expected into premanent decline.

Angella

The government keeps saying that they are going to keep that promise, and they took several steps in this budget that make it look like they are going to try - for example the upfront payment of promised funds to post-secondary institutions.  It's common for businesses to lump as many losses as they can into one quarter ... this looks like what the NDP government has done here.

And it's hard to say if the basic fiscal situation is unsustainable ... I don't think you can just state that as a fact.  But of course, if it is, that's a serious concern.

The NS government can't turn around the global economy, but they can make a difference in Nova Scotia's economy.  Right now is the best time to borrow - part of the savings in the budget was lower than expected borrowing costs of short term borrowing!

Here is a letter from the CCPA published in today's Chronicle Herald:

http://thechronicleherald.ca/Letters/1145251.html

 

KenS

Of course they keep saying they will try.

But they carefully set out the [third person speaking] trial baloons out there. And they no longer say- it will be balanced.

The front end loading of this budget is just a drop in the bucket. Everyone now expects that the deficit in the next budget will still be quite substantial [which they promised unequivocally would not happen]. And the consensus is that even for 2011 a balanced budget is at least a stretch... long before that rolls around the election promise will be ancient history.

I don't expect the CCPA to acknowedge that the fiscal situation is a daunting challenge- not your job.

Angella wrote:
The NS government can't turn around the global economy, but they can make a difference in Nova Scotia's economy.  Right now is the best time to borrow - part of the savings in the budget was lower than expected borrowing costs of short term borrowing!

Good thing you didn't put that in your letter to the editor.

Angella

I did acknowedge that the fiscal situation is a daunting challenge, I just didn't acknowedge that it was unsustainable.  Who's afraid of a deficit?  Our debt to GDP rato is manageable by OECD standards.  Where is the pressure coming from that they felt they needed to make that promise in the first place.  You (KenS) say it was a dubious election campaign pledge too ...

My position is that government spending now saves them (and us) money in the long run, and there is a limited sustainablility issue because borrowing is really, really cheap right now.  Why wouldn't I say that in a letter to the editor?  It's true.  And if people accepted it as true, then we wouldn't need to sneak around issues, and float trial balloons.  We could just come out and say the truth.

KenS

Angella wrote:
My position is that government spending now saves them (and us) money in the long run, and there is a limited sustainablility issue because borrowing is really, really cheap right now.  Why wouldn't I say that in a letter to the editor?  It's true.  And if people accepted it as true, then we wouldn't need to sneak around issues, and float trial balloons.  We could just come out and say the truth.

Like a lot of people- I'm not afraid of deficits, but I don't at all buy what you said here either.

I don't really have time to get into it now, but I think it suffices anyway to point out that no matter how cheap borrowing is accumulations of deficits matters a lot, and the prudence of doing it regardless depends on revenue projections, how much you can count on them,etc.

Unionist

Excellent letter, Angella. And thanks for joining this thread!

 

 

Angella

Full Disclosure: I am not a paid employee of the CCPA, but I do appreciate the work that they do.

Unionist

KenS wrote:

I didn't say or imply that, nor am I so expecting.

 

Look, the CCPA article expressed concerns that I share - about any government. Boilerplate has a role to play on such issues. If the article's criticisms of the "debt and deficit" rhetoric have already been overtaken by events, then I'm happy. But you obviously have a better idea of where this government is going than I do, and I hope someone will be kind enough to give us progress reports.

Angella

I think there are two separate issues at play here.  One is the sustainability of government spending from year-to-year.  Meaning, can expected revenues fund everything that government wants to do.  Obviously a government cannot sustain deficit spending indefinitely.  But there is a difference between temporary deficits, and accumulation of debt.  In an economic downturn, government revenues fall.  At the same time, people need government programs more than they do in the good times.  So you borrow to cover the shortfall, and pay down the debt when revenues come back up. 

There is spending that can make a difference, and spending that is wasteful.  Too often the mainstream economic line is easily accepted, and any questioning of it is too quickly rejected.  And what I'm talking about is pretty mainstream economic thinking.  I'd love a full-employment policy, with 100% coverage for daycares, and transition houses, and many, many other things.  Obviously we can't afford everything that we want, which is why informed debate is so important.  I'm pretty sure that is part of the job of the CCPA.

Angella

Thanks Unionist!

KenS

Angella wrote:
I think there are two separate issues at play here.  One is the sustainability of government spending from year-to-year.  Meaning, can expected revenues fund everything that government wants to do.  Obviously a government cannot sustain deficit spending indefinitely.  But there is a difference between temporary deficits, and accumulation of debt.  In an economic downturn, government revenues fall.  At the same time, people need government programs more than they do in the good times.  So you borrow to cover the shortfall, and pay down the debt when revenues come back up. 

Its a valid general point, but does not address any particulars of Nova Scotia... where government spending increased over a several year period while revenues were increasing strongly.

It turns out that a lot of those revenue increases were more temporary than we expected. Equalization payment revenue levels will not likely be recuperated for the forseeable future. Off shore gas royalties: ditto, and probably never recouping [and much earlier than expected.

You started out saying just that borrowing is cheap- do it. I expected there was more to it than that. But just a general statement about temporary cycles doesn't cut it as a communications remedy.

KenS

That said, I meant it that I don't expect the CCPA to give more than pro forma acknowledgement that the fiscal situation has challanges.

Their role is to provide different perspectives- and straying too far from that muddies the water.

By the same token- because of that, some aspects of what the CCPA says [or chooses not to dig deeply into] is going to be rightfully taken with some grains of salt, even by 'friendlies'.

Angella

KenS wrote:

That said, I meant it that I don't expect the CCPA to give more than pro forma acknowledgement that the fiscal situation has challanges.

Their role is to provide different perspectives- and straying too far from that muddies the water.

By the same token- because of that, some aspects of what the CCPA says [or chooses not to dig deeply into] is going to be rightfully taken with some grains of salt, even by 'friendlies'.

Maybe you weren't reading closely enough ... the 2008 APB goes into some detail about Nova Scotia's fiscal situation here:

http://www.policyalternatives.ca/reports/2008/04/reportsstudies1881/?pa=...

As you can see in the article, Nova Scotia's Debt to GDP ratio was approaching 50% in 1999/2000.  Now it is closer to 36%.  This is because of a concerted effort to pay down the debt.  The unsustainably high revenues that you speak of went into paying down the debt, not program spending.  So we can give the debt a break, and more or less maintain our 'sustainable' debt-to-GDP ratio, at least during the recession.  Maybe sometimes even 'friendlies' make assumptions that lead them to ignore the data.

 

Angella

Anyway, I hope you are right that they will step away from that election pledge.

KenS

I went back and looked at the report. Its older than I remembered. [pre 2008 Budget]

Very little of it is about debt load, and you have summarized that here. I don't dispute the point made that Nova Scotia has been dealing prudently and adequately with the fiscal situation, and that people too easily fall into the knee jerk inflexible narrative of 'gotta pay down the debt right now'.

But there is no updating on assessing the debt load, and you are really only arguing by logical extension from the earlier arguement [and really only implicitly], that we've been doing enough, and that in the natural course of things we'll soon be back to balanced budgets.

Angella

I'm sorry, do you have some evidence for your case?  What evidence would convince you?  Your Colbert-like gut feeling that we are in an unsustainable fiscal situation seems impenetrable ...

If you aren't impressed by a more than 25% reduction in net debt over less than 10 years, wow, you aren't paying attention.  We've been doing more than enough to reduce our debt load. 

There was an update on assessing the debt load in the most recent alternative budget, where it compares the NS debt-to-GDP ratio with other OECD countries.  GDP is not perfect, but OK when we're talking about debt.  I think the OECD average was around 45%, maybe higher.

To summarize:

1) the money you said is evaporating was spent paying down the debt anyway - it's not a structural fiscal issue (i.e. we aren't committed to spending that money on an annual basis - it was a series of one-time payments).

2) Current debt load is more than reasonable.

3) Revenues fall in a recession - and come back in a recovery - so deficits during a recession (to maintain program spending) are OK. 

4) Even better, governments could invest in social and physical infrastructure to absorb some of the excess labour and stimulate the economy, and hopefully invest in something that is of value to NS in the long-run too.  These things should be temporary spending, so that we are not adding to structural program spending which would require additional long-term revenues.

 

KenS

I think you've been engaged in tossing around numbers that are irrelevant to the crucial question at hand.  

I have already said that I don't disagree that we have been paying down debt, and explicitly said that we don't need to concern ourselves with always continuing to do so at the same pace.   But none of what has happened- even if its in the immediate past- addresses the questions of the situation we are in right now.  

The case as you have presented it here depends entirely on data about past trends, and implicitly that those underlying trends are going to continue.  

IF that assumption had a soldi basis, then I would accept the analysis that we can afford to suspend concern with debt accumulation while we have this temporary dip in revenues.   But how temporary is it?  

What about the bottom suddenly dropping out of offshore royalties, and apparently staying that way?  

What about the continued drop in equalization payments that covers a large portion of our spending, the decline in which stands to accelerate for at least a couple years, even without politically motivated clawbacks?  

How much of the decrease in tax revenues is really temporary- and to what extent? And what is the interplay between all these?  

Its questions like these that you- and really the CCPA- have to answer if you want to make a case to Nova Scotians.   Telling Babblers what they want to hear is a turkey shoot.

Stockholm

Its less than a week until the provincial byelection in Nova Scotia in Antigonish and Inverness. Any word on how they are going?

Pierre C yr

Im not sure you can make the case for forever dropping offshore revenues Ken. From what Ive heard theres still a lot of exploration to do offshore. Heck they're drilling on land here in NB still. And exploration tends to fallback quite a bit when prices drop. Now if production drops significantly it will affect prices of gas and oil and thus reinvigorate exploration. Im sure theres also known gas and oil reserves that were deemed too expensive to recuperate with the large drop in prices that will be deemed profitable once prices creep back up again as they inevitably will. The French with St Pierre and Miquelon were still arguing last year over what area they could explore...  Doesnt sound to me like they've given up on what may lie out there.

 Gulfd of St Laurence also has years of exploration yet to undergo. Lets just hope prices dont rise too fast or then drop precipitously as they have. You can thank the parasites on wall street for that stunt. A big if not the singular reason why we are all in this mess right now.

 

KenS

I reactivated this thread because as we speak Dexter and the Finance Minister are responding to the recommendations of the panel of economists they commissioned to review the provinces fiscal situation, and options for addressing it. I'll give an update and summary to this point.

But I missed the post immediately above, so I'll respond to that.

If you make a case that oil and case revenues are not expected to pernanently drop. I think you'll be alone. There is till offshore exploration- but even at far higher gas prices than present, there is virtually no chance production will ever regain the region of the first several years of Sable- which is that provincial revenue bump we were reaping. And the onshore possibilities just don't hold a candle to the offshore.

Further:

Pierre C yr wrote:
And exploration tends to fallback quite a bit when prices drop. Now if production drops significantly it will affect prices of gas and oil and thus reinvigorate exploration. Im sure theres also known gas and oil reserves that were deemed too expensive to recuperate with the large drop in prices that will be deemed profitable once prices creep back up again as they inevitably will. The French with St Pierre and Miquelon were still arguing last year over what area they could explore...  Doesnt sound to me like they've given up on what may lie out there.

 Gulfd of St Laurence also has years of exploration yet to undergo. Lets just hope prices dont rise too fast or then drop precipitously as they have. You can thank the parasites on wall street for that stunt. A big if not the singular reason why we are all in this mess right now.

 

Its not "if" production falls back- it has already. And even presuming Deep Panuke stays under development, it won't bring production levels back to what they were. As to an inevitable rise in prices bringing back that much new exploration and production: you need to read Jeff Rubin. Despite his dismissed earlier predictions having been spot on, he's still an outlier among observors. But despite that, you'll find no one except local boosters with a stake who thinks even permanent high prices are ever going to bring back the Nova Scotia offshore to what it was and was hyped to be for decades into the future.

[Newfoundland is an entirely different story, and they and the French have 90% of the Saint Lawrence basin potential you are pointing to.]

KenS

Two months ago there was a discussion here about what the NS government was going to do, and it has unfolded as looked easily predicatble then.

The NDP made a high profile promise during the campaign that they would bring in a balanced budget next year, and that they would not raise taxes to do it.

The Premeir said today that they will bring in a balanced budget before the end of their mandate, and that along with spending cuts there will be tax increases.

NewCanada NewCanada's picture

Shocking isn't it.

An NDP government breaking their promises. I keep telling people that they are ALL THE SAME, but instead we debate about which is the better evil.

Pick your poison folks.

 

KenS

Most Babblers would be very dissapointed if they did not break this particular promise. You are preaching to the wrong choir.

KenS

One of the recommendations from the panel, and I beleive this was for pretty near term, was to raise the surtax on the highest income tax bracket[s], and to raise the provincial portion of the HST the 2% that the Harper government has cut from it.

Lars Osberg is by the way on of the 3 economists on the panel. I think he would best be characterised as closest to the thinking of the CCPA, although has always been 'NDP friendly' to say the least.

griffynchezenko

I don't see the big problem.  These are extraordinary circumstances; after all, this is a world wide economic issue, not just a Nova Scotian one.  If the NDP had won in 2006 and this was 5 months after that election, then I'd be more apt to think "wtf guys, you're just going to flip flop on everything?"  But this isn't 2006. 

Nobody said leading during a recession was going to be easy, but by rejigging the books now, I think the NDP will endure a lot of short term pain that'll develop into long term gain.  And speaking of broken promises, where are all the people bitching about the Harper Conservatives and their forgotten "anti-deficit, balanced budget" agenda?  ...  suddenly, silence.

 

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