In front of a handpicked audience Tuesday, unelected Premier Greg Selinger pulled back the curtain on the twin pillars of the NDP's re-election campaign---Hate and Hype.
Selinger spewed unadulterated vitriol at his opponent, Progressive Conservative leader Hugh McFadyen, accusing him of every sin conceivable to a hardcore socialist.
NDP propaganda has been peddling lies all summer that McFadyen plans to poison Lake Winnipeg, to fire doctors and nurses and kill babies, and, most horrific of all, to sell Manitoba Hydro [also known as a.) depending on science not politics to make water policy, b.) supporting balanced budgets, and c.) a myth invented out of whole cloth by the NDP.]
The NDP leader was spitting venom as he viciously attacked McFadyen and painted himself as the saviour of Manitoba who is bravely fighting off the rightwing barbarian hordes. But it's the intensity of his hate that's notable. It's not just a politician disagreeing with policy; it's sheer deranged animus, a deep-seated hatred which leaves a sour taste in everyone except the true believers.
For someone who paints himself as all that stands between your children's future and the evil plans of the demonic Conservatives, he leaves listeners with the unsettling question: would you trust your child alone in the same room as this hate-filled Cassandra?
When he wasn't expressing his loathing of Hugh McFadyen, Selinger was trying his best to breathe life into a tepid "vision" of NDP Manitoba to come.
"The normal we've had for the last decade is something to build," he said. ZZZZZZZZZZ.
More of the same, he promised. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ
He encouraged supporters, as one newspaper tortuously put it, "to maintain and improve on the basics: health care, education, infrastructure and fighting crime." ZZZZZZZZZZ.
Did someone mention crime? After 12 years of NDP government, the province is the murder capital of Canada with street gangs running unchecked and violent crime reaching unheard of levels and depths of depravity.
Selinger's plan? More social workers.
"We want neighbourhoods where people feel safe," he said. "It's not just about being tough on crime. It's about being tough on the causes of crime, which is why this government will invest in young people, in education, in recreation and in job opportunities — those kinds of things that give people a sense of hope, a sense of the future and the opportunity to achieve that."
Selinger tried to hype Manitoba's economy under the NDP. It was like listening to the finance minister of Greece.
Everything is super as long as you can keep propping up the economy by borrowing money at near-zero rates. But when, like Greece, the free ride ends and bankers realize you've been living the high life on borrowed money, it's a painful bus ride to bankruptcy court. He has one convert, though---P.C. leader Hugh McFadyen who has abandoned balanced budgets and now promises to spend more than the NDP.
Unfortunately for Selinger, a new report card on Manitoba's economic health was released a day earlier by the Manitoba Employers Council, which describes itself as "the largest collective of individual employers and employer associations in Manitoba."
They didn't grade the province under the NDP, but reading the report shows the government for the past decade would be lucky to get a D at best.
Manitoba is dead last in almost every category measured.
* We have the lowest average weekly earnings among the western provinces (Ontario to B.C.).
* We have less money to spend after taxes (personal disposable income). Even though disposable income didn't drop in Manitoba in the recession of 2009 as it did in the other provinces, we STILL had less money to spend after taxes than workers did in those provinces.
* The labour force is growing slower than any of the other western provinces.
* The NDP has stifled entrepreneurial spirit in Manitoba. The measure of entrepreneurial intensity (businesses per 1000 population) in Manitoba is 69, unchanged in 10 years. The Canadian average is 79.
And when it comes to taxes, it will make you cry.
Get this. For a family of four earning $30,000, every other western province cut taxes over the last decade except Manitoba where that family pays $282 MORE than it would have in 2001.
But it's worse than that. The report states:
"Personal income tax paid, for this low income family, declined 100 per cent in BC, 100 per cent in Alberta, 100 per cent in Saskatchewan, and 129 per cent in Ontario, but increased 128 per cent in Manitoba. (see figure 14)"
It's the same at every tax bracket.
Brutally high taxes are sucking the life out of the provincial economy leaving it on life support from federal government transfer payments and equalization.
Now that's scary.