The Water Watch Petition Rejection Trail Leads Back To The Prime Minister’s Office

The debate over the waste water project continues. According to Wascana MP Ralph Goodale’s blog, the City of Regina will face the Wrath Of Harper – in the form of a $60 million penalty – if the City of Regina doesn’t use the P3 funding formula.

And why is that? Whether the funding for the project is done through the conventional route, or through the P3 route, the government is still spending money: the difference is that through the P3 route, most of the money goes to the private sector (i.e. they make the money off of it). This is why you never hear anti-tax groups complain about P3 projects – otherwise, any other form of government spending is a ‘waste of money,’ in their opinion.

But there’s precious little evidence that a P3 run system will provide any better service or be cheaper in the long run than the current funding mode – and, according to the Canadian Centre For Policy Alternatives, a lot of evidence that it doesn’t. The money just moves from one ledger on the government’s books to another – which is why right-of-centre governments like it: it hides deficit capital spending. But if the service is okay – and there’s nothing the matter with the way it’s running, the equipment and infrastructure is just worn out – then why change the service delivery system? It’s not the problem.

The P3 model may or may not be a more cost-effective system. Hell, it’s probably not, without the evidence of a lot more study that neither the City nor the federal government will provide. But it stands to make a few people in the private sector richer. Put it another way: if the P3 model is so good in this case, why would the federal government force a $60 million penalty on the project if another funding model is used? If the P3 project can’t stand on its own financial and operational merits something is really, really wrong with the project.

It appears as though the petitions’ organizers are going to have to fight Stephen Harper as much as they have to fight City Hall – in this case, Mayor ‘Don’t Care’ Fougere.

Author: Stephen LaRose

2006 winner of the Canadian Association of University Teachers's Award of Excellence in Journalism for a bunch of prairie dog stuff. Invited into the best homes in Regina. Once.

13 thoughts on “The Water Watch Petition Rejection Trail Leads Back To The Prime Minister’s Office”

  1. The same article notes that Councillor Shawn Fraser supports the P3 funding arrangement, so two preconceived notions go poof.

  2. What irks me is the framing of this issue. One need not oppose the P3 model to be in favour of a plebiscite, and vice versa.

  3. It should be noted that this misconception that the ONLY way the Federal Government would provide funds for the WWTP upgrades is completely false. While this IS what we’ve been told by Fougere, it is but another lie from his office.

    The fact of the matter is, if you Google “Enterprise Saskatchewan Capital Improvements”, you should find the ongoing list of Capital Infrastructure projects. In there, you will note that there are many, many projects relating to core infrastructure. MOST have gained access to funds from either the Building Canada Fund, or other Federal or Provincial funds.

    Now, either the City didn’t know these funds were available for such a massive project (also note the cost is still listed at the 2008 price estimate of $120M), or they are purposely not going after these funds and lying to the taxpayers, saying this is the ONLY WAY to get Federal dollars for the project. By going with a P3. You decide which is more believable.

  4. Fraser doesn’t just support the P3 arrangement, he actually VOTED for it at Council back in February, so I don’t understand why anyone would have a “preconceived notion” that he was against it. Unless, perhaps, they were the kind of person who made assumptions about people based on ridiculous prejudices and a total disregard for facts. Yeah, that might happen.

  5. Not my preconceived notions, Emmet, I assure you, but those of people who equate the CTF and city councillors from the Cathedral area with particular points of view. I have heard the surprise and the disillusion from exactly the kind of folks you describe above.

  6. Your ability to make staggeringly wrong assumptions remains intact, I see. Ho’s the anger management class going? And whatever happened to your firm resolve never to comment on this blog again? Oh, wait…

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