Naming – ‘bread and circuses’

Blog, Municipal Government, Frontier Centre

Naming is important, without putting a name on someone or something (animal, plant, place, event, issue), identification and categorization (as important or not so important) can be difficult.

Recently Manitoba’s hyperactive provincial government, apparently judging the matter to be important, has taken the time to seek out the help of the general populace to put names to Manitoba’s most important tree and fish.

While a province-wide pursuit to identify, recognize and name a tree and a fish is clearly judged to be important by Premier Selinger and his jolly band of helpers and supporters, not so much for Publius.

While Publius has nothing but admiration for trees and fish, surviving as they have as species for untold centuries in an environment marked by too long and cold winters (humans can escape), Publius suggests, perhaps naively, that the Premier and his cabinet prioritize the issues before them, and leave the name of trees and fish to the botanists and naturalists among us, and concentrate on addressing Manitoban’s evident economic distress.

Recently, the signs of economic malaise have increased.

For some time, the government’s inability to control its costs has been known. (Despite a torrent of federal money coming to the Province since 1999, it has spent it all and more.) The government’s inability to ‘control itself’ has resulted in not only deficits and borrowings, but, in desperation, it moving to increase the provincial sales tax. Shockingly, even with the increase in the sales tax rate, the government still projects future deficits and more borrowing.

Publius Publius

On top of that bad news, and most recently, a report that the Province’s employed workforce fell in April by 11,000, while Canada overall gained jobs – the survey also noted that, Canada-wide, public service jobs increased while private sector employment fell.

What is needed, now, is not a plebiscite on naming a tree, or another one on naming a fish, but a plebiscite on the government’s plans (breaking a 2011 election promise and violating existing  legislation) to increase the sales tax.  If government ‘trusts’ the public to pick the right tree and fish, surely it should leave it to the public to judge whether government restraint or more taxes are needed. (Californian voters, given the choice, picked higher taxes over cutbacks in a relatively recent referendum.)

Unfortunately, the main ‘plebiscite’, on the continuation of the government, is still some time off. In the interim, and unfortunately, despite evident economic woes, the government chooses ‘bread and circuses’ – and calls a vote on trees and fish.