A challenge for Mr. Tom Fletcher

Alex Atamanenko, MP of BC Southern Interior not happy with Mr. Fletchers' column

Re: “What ails the NDP?” Similkameen Spotlight, June 19

Dear Editor,

Frankly, I am fed-up with Fletcher’s regular and misleading diatribes such as ‘What ails the NDP?’ which appeared in the Similkameen Spotlight on June 19. It is clear that any notion of a social contract between a government and its people is completely lost on the author. There is no suggestion of the fact that other developed, highly industrialized countries have publicly funded post-secondary tuition, children’s daycare, senior’s care and so much more for their citizens. Never does he question why it is possible for Sweden, Norway and other progressive European countries to consistently enjoy the world’s strongest economies while maintaining such expanded social programs.  Could it be because these countries have strong unions and highly engaged citizens who have seen through the type of propaganda espoused by the author and demand that a significant portion of their common wealth be shared for the benefit of all?

The author also seems unaware of the evidence which shows that many public private partnerships (PPPs) are not as cost effective as those that are publicly funded. And, to mention the political donations of labour unions to the BC NDP without the contrast of those by corporations to the Liberal Party – $46 Million from 2005 to 2012 according to Vancouver Sun – is just bad reporting.

I would like to challenge the author to provide evidence of any other party in government that has ever matched Tommy Douglas’ fiscal record. When Tommy took office in 1944 Saskatchewan had a debt of $218 million (38% of provincial GDP). By 1953 he eliminated it and by 1961, when he left office, he had produced 17 successive budget surpluses. While in office, he coaxed publicly funded medicare down out of the ‘dream-tree’ and made it a reality for the citizens of Saskatchewan and the rest of the country soon followed. By reducing the debt and thereby reducing costs, he was able to spend more on public services and build other vital infrastructure without having to raise taxes.

According to the Fiscal References Tables produced by the federal Department of Finance for 2008-09 showed that NDP governments in Canada produced budgets that were in surplus 49% of the time covered by the report, with Conservatives coming in second at 42% and Liberals a distant third at 25% of the time.

Alex Atamanenko, MP

BC Southern Interior