Archive for April, 2012

NDP debt growing faster than economy

- April 17th, 2012

The Government of Manitoba’s debt continues to grow in leaps and bounds after the NDP tabled its fourth straight deficit budget Tuesday.
And as percentage of the economy, Manitoba’s debt is starting to become a real problem.
Debt went up in almost every category in the budget, including the overall debt which now stands at a staggering $27.6 billion. That’s up from $18 billion in 2007 and it’s been climbing every year.
Capital investment debt — money the province borrows for capital projects like the new Bombers football stadium — is growing at the fastest pace. It now stands at $3.75 billion. That’s more than triple what it was in 2007 when it was just over $1 billion.
And that money will have to be repaid one day.
Total summary borrowings, guarantees and obligations — which excludes Manitoba Hydro debt — is also up. It’s pegged at $20.7 billion, up from $19.6 billion last year. It was $14.9 billion just four years ago.
Borrowing for general government programs has jumped $1.5 billion since 2007 when it was $6.5 billion. It’s now just over $8 billion. That’s money the government borrows to help pay for everyday operations, including funding for bureaucracies.
The summary net debt, which includes assets such as the pension fund and other financial assets, stood at $16.3 billion. That’s way up from last year when it was $14.8 billion. Summary net debt was $10.5 billion in 2007.
So no matter what category of debt you look at, it’s all up — way up.
The NDP says the province can afford it because as a percentage of a growing economy, it’s manageable.
But here’s the worst part. As a percentage of the Gross Domestic Product, Manitoba’s debt has been growing steadily over the past five years.
Net debt as a percentage of GDP is up for the fifth year in a row. It now stands at 27.4%, up from 21.6% in 2007.
At some point, this government is going to have to do something about it’s out-of-control propensity to borrow.
This has to stop.

New crime laws would have made no difference in cab killer case

- April 4th, 2012

The good news is there are new laws on the way under the Harper government’s omnibus crime bill that will help hold young punks who break the law more accountable for their actions.
The bad news is I don’t see anything in the changes that would have much — if any — effect on criminals like the then-14-year-old who smashed a stolen SUV into cabbie Antonio Lanzellotti in 2008, killing him.
There are new provisions in the act that would require the court to consider options such as adult sentences in certain cases, especially for prescribed violent crimes and for patterns of offending behaviour. But they’re not mandatory.
The court will also, under the changes, have to consider the sentencing principles of deterrence and denunciation, which is good. That will likely, in some cases, turn what may have been non-jail sentences into incarceratory ones.
And in some cases the courts will have to consider lifting publication bans on the names of some young offenders, although they will never be obligated to.
I don’t see anything in the changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, though, that would have had any material impact on offenders like the one who killed Lanzellotti. In that case, the Crown asked for an adult sentence, but the court refused. I suppose one could argue that with the new deterrence and denunciation principles added to the act, a judge may agree to an adult sentence more readily if the court has to consider those principles.
But it still leaves the decision in the hands of the judge and it’s not a slam dunk by any means.
The offender in the Lanzellotti case already got the highest sentence allowable under the YCJA for the crime he committed — three years for criminal negligence cause death. So the deterrence and denunciation principles would have had no impact there.
Beyond that, there are a few other changes to pre-sentence custody rules and several other non-related amendments. But there’s nothing I can see in the new YCJA provisions that would have made any real difference in this offender’s sentence.
I stand to be corrected. But from where I sit, I don’t see any.
Which is exactly why we need a major overhaul of this act.