The Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - January 4, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4 THI LETHBMDOE HEHALO Friday, January I'lHTOIIIALS Power to the people UIC reform bill under discussion The fate of the city's power plant whether to keep it or to sell it to Calgary Power will be discussed at a closed meeting of city council next week. A study of the question was commissioned seven months ago, after city council reassured the public that nothing final would be done without letting them in on the discussion. The report, still secret, will be made public after the aldermen have discussed it secretly and perhaps made up their minds on it. Probably a good case can be made for selling the plant. The city makes its money out of distributing power, not generating it, and probably it can buy from Calgary Power cheaper than by operating its own plants. In any case the rates from Calgary Power are subject to government utility board control. Then there is question of the city's capacity for borrowing expensive money to rebuild or extend the plant, or to convert it to coal which Premier Lougheed has indicated may be ordered. However, many citizens instinctively feel that anything Calgary Power can do, the city can dp equally well, and if any profit is to be made by generating power for Lethbridge (which Calgary Power certainly intends the city could use that profit. In short, many citizens teel a pride of ownership, in the present plant and they are suspicious of any intentions of selling it. These people deserve to be given all the facts. If the facts support the sale of the plant, as we believe they will, they must be exhibited and discussed publicly before any decision is taken. The final decision is the responsibility of city council, but council is responsible for communicating with the people as well as for making wise decisions. This is the people's business. They have the right to know not only what is done but why. No economic wall Economic projections, which.are ex- pected at this time of year, are a little difficult- to make because of the remarkable increase 'in the price of crude oil and the multiplier effect this will have on the economies of the countries which are net importers of oil. Furthermore, economists tend to dis- agree and, according to a member of their profession, also tend to spend their time "optimizing the arrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic." In spite of the difficulties which beset the profession, and in spite of the dif- ficulties the layman has in deciding which projections to accept, one set of facts is very obvious. Twenty per cent of Canada's wealth comes from exports to the United States, Europe and Japan. Considering that this country exports about as much oil as it imports, it is questionable whether th6 Canadian economy will suffer from the higher price of oil on the world market, providing the political problems of inter- nal equalization can be met. It is plain, however, that Europe, Japan and the U.S. will feel the pinch of higher fuel costs and if their economies suffer this will have an effect on that 20 per cent of Canadian wealth which com- es from exports to these areas. Given this interrelationship, it is im- possible to build an economic wall around Canada and parochial thinking of this nature should be discouraged. A return to reality Shock can have a salutary effect on both individuals and nations. The best thing that could happen as a result of the energy crisis would be a return to reality. Individually and collectively the people of Ihe industrialized sector of the world have been living in something of a fan- tasy state, imagining that they could con- tinue indefinitely using and abusing the natural resources without a day of reckoning. Now the truth is beginning to dawn that it is otherwise. The prodigal consumption of all sorts of things, with petroleum products heading the list, has to halt. If wastefulness is a concomitant of a "healthy" economy then a new system has to be found that is more in keeping with the fundamental order of things. It is a good thing to be forced to realize that neither man nor his institutions are infallible or ultimate. The humility that this engenders is a good antidote for the burdensome tyrannies political, economic and cultural laid upon the poor and weak by the rich and powerful. This is not to gainsay that there will be unhappiness and maybe even suffering as a result of the shifts that are now tak- ing place or are in store for the future. But a return to reality will be a good thing in the long run. THE CASSEROLE Surely an adequate program of accident prevention is one of the first responsibilities of railway management. Of course some ac- cidents will always happen, and of course there conies a point when it is wise to put a limit to accident-prevention measures the cost outweighs the risk. However if Canada's railways are negligent and niggardly in their inspection and prevention measures, as the Board of Transport Commissioners alleges, that is a serious indictment of management. Otherwise the board would seem to be ventur- ing out of its assigned area of control into the area of management. Some interesting figures on trading volumes in Alberta cities, based on 1973 city populations and 1972 retail trade volumes: Calgary had trade of per capita, Ed- monton Medicine Hat Lethbridge Red Deer The city administration recently recommended a program of salting Lethbridge streets after snow storms. jCity council rejected the advice, mainly on the grounds that the damage to cars from salt- induced corrosion outweighed the advantage of better driving conditions. The Canadian salt industry has just put out an elaborate By Maurice Western, Herald Ottawa commentator OTTAWA On the evidence of a letter and a press release, both by Conser- vative members from On- tario, the Trudeau govern- ment will be faced, at an awkward time, -with an un- usual and somewhat em- barrassing challenge from the official opposition. It is going to be called upon to show a de- cent respect for its own best judgment by proceeding with an important item of its own legislation. The ti'me is awkward because the new unemploy- ment insurance contribution rates take effect this month! Wage earners who have been promotional kit on the merits of using salt on the streets and highways. Its case is im- pressive. However only brief mention is made of the corrosion problem. There is an implied admission that salt aggravates the problem but it is contended that actual depreciation is not significantly increased. The auto makers have greatly improved the undercoating protection in the last few years, it is contended, and for a price this protection can be even further enhanced at the factory. Dealer-applied undercoating is of ques- tionable value, it is stated. Once a crack develops and moisture gets between the coating and the metal, the corrosion speeds up. Salt worsens the damage simply by holding the moisture longer. Recommended measures: wash the car regularly, wax it before winter, touch up nicks and scratches, and keep mud packs from developing under the fenders. paying per of weekly insurable earnings will now find themselves paying Similarly, employer rates will jump from to When the new rates were announced early in November, Robert Andras revealed that the fund ex- pected a deficit of millions by year-end. If no ac- tion had been taken, the fund would have had to be sup- ported for an indefinite period by the public treasury in other words, by the nation's taxpayers. According to a Conservative critic, Reg Stackhouse (Scarborough the taxpayers con- tributed 64 the UIC spending dollar in 1972-73. Employee premiums ac- counted for 15 cents and employer premiums 21 cents. While the government, with a vista of deficits looming ahead, may have chosen the better of alternative courses, it is unlikely that the in- creases, in a time of mounting' inflation, will be. well received. In the course of the 1972 election, the Liberals were startled to discover that their very generous scheme was far from popular with many taxpayers. The general theme of the protest was that persons accustomed to sup- porting themselves ought not to be required to pay in taxes or the equivalent for the maintenance of those who would rather draw than work. There is no doubt that the government was much im- pressed in the fall of 1972 by the strength of this feeling. While Bryce Mackasey, the author of the scheme, was un- repentant then and remains, as a private member, un- repentant to the present day, his ministerial colleagues were in a contrite mood. As evidence that the govern- ment had learned, its lesson, the new minister, Robert The Volga boatman has come upon hard times. A recent story from Moscow indicates that the efforts to clean up pollution in the famed river has hit a snag, metaphorically speaking, and Pravda is lashing out at fac- tories that continue to dump industrial waste into the Volga, What threat are they mere minors. Government record for 1973 examined By Dian Cohen, syndicated columnist MONTREAL The new year is already bringing us a rash of predictions about the state of the economy in 1974, as well as policies to deal with the economy. Before taking these predic- tions too seriously, we should scrutinize the government record for 1973. JANUARY The U.S. government, having maintain- ed an import quota on Cana- dian oil for years, said it would take all the oil Canada can supply. The energy minister promised an immi- nent national oil policy statement. (See November) The finance minister said the economy is strong and that unemployment will trend downward during 1973. It is 6.3 per cent in January (See September, December) FEBRUARY With live cattle selling at a hundredweight, and ham- burger selling at a pound, the finance minister removed the import tariff on beef to "strike directly against the upward thrust in the cost of living." (See September) In his budget speech, the finance minister said the budget reflects the government's "determination to impose restraint on its own spending in order to avoid aggravating (See October) MARCH The New- foundland government per- suaded little known John Shaheen to take on a bigger share of the risks involved in his first Come-by-Chance oil refinery in return for getting help in building his second one. (See November) APRIL Canadians by the millions finish filling out the revised income tax form bas- ed on the tax reform which the former finance minister promised would not yield any additional revenue for the government. (See May) MAY Government ac- counts show that the new in- come tax produced billion billion more than the government said it would get. This turned the forecasted million deficit into a million surplus. The depart- ment of finance issued a press release on the difficulty of forecasting. (See December) JUNE The economy grew at a staggeringly hiph rate in the first three months, Statistics Canada reports. The department of finance repeats its forecast that the economy will grow by a real seven per cent in 1973. (See July, December) JULY Statistics are trickling in which indicate the economy has reached a plateau in the second quarter of the year. AUGUST The rotating rail strikes escalate into a national walkout by non- operating employees. SEPTEMBER With cat- tle selling at a hundredweight, the govern- ART BUCHWALD 'What tags me, to tlMl It only takes ample of toys to pit it on and all year to take it off WASHINGTON Just before adjourning for the Christmas holidays, the Senate passed a resolution calling for a national day of humilitation, fasting and prayer. It was in- troduced by Senator Mark Hatfield and adopted by voice vote with no debate or op- position. I think it was a big mistake. While the idea of such a day is admirable, and one that no God-fearing American can argue with, the results of declaring another holiday will only cause more trouble than it's worth. The date selected for the day of humilia- tion is April 30, which in 1974 falls on a Tuesday. If this holiday is celebrated as are other ones in this country, it will mean a four- day weekend. The first people to take advantage of an of- ficial day of humiliation will be the depart- ment stores and discount houses. Our new- spapers will be full of Humiliation Day sales. While the churches will stay open, it will be the stores that will run the banner headlines GLUNK BROS. WILL HUMILIATE ITSELF BY CUTTING EVERY ITEM IN OUR STORE 50 PER CENT. Or HARVEY SCHNUCKER WILL FAST ALL DAY UNTIL HE SELLS EVERY USED CAR ON HIS LOT. The restaurants will have to take advan- tage of the holiday by having special Humilia- tion Day dinners with free cocktails and seven-course family dinners. There will be Humiliation Day weekends at the resorts featuring Dean Martin, Paul Anka and Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme. SPEND YOUR HUMILIATION DAY WEEKEND IN LAS VEGAS or SPECIAL FOUR-DAY SPIRITUAL CRUISE TO NASSAU. The race tracks will hold Humiliation Day handicaps, and some football promoter will come up with an All-Star Humiliation Day Bowl. Indianapolis will have auto racing trials for the Memorial Day weekend (which incidentally used to be a Humiliation Day of sorts until the hucksters took it But the worst thing of all is that all gasoline stations will probably be closed on Humilia- tion Day. With forced closing on Sundays and then no gas stations open on Tuesday, you'll have peo- ple at each other's throats again just as they were during the Christmas and New Year's holidays. Rather than humbling themselves and ask- ing forgiveness for their sins, they'll only commit new ones in an effort to get enough fuel for the weekend. The truth is you cannot get this country to stand still and pray for itself by declaring another holiday, no matter how noble the pur- pose. I think the Senate should have debated this resolution very seriously before passing it by a voice vote. Sen. Hatfield is a very religious man and there is no doubt in anyone's mind that he was completely sincere in offering the Humilia- tion Day bill, but I suspect there are quite a few senators who went along with it because they could see the great possibilities it offered them to get away from Washington for one more weekend. The resolution also puts the president in a very tough spot. Will he go to San Clemente or Key Biseayne for Humiliation Day? Or to save fuel will he spend the holiday at Camp David and watch "Patton" for the 123rd time? ment reimposes the tariff on U.S. beef to protect Canadian beef producers against a flood of imported beef. Hamburger is still selling at a pound. Unemployment is six per cent. OCTOBER The finance minister releases tables to show how much money Canadians will save because of his new income tax index- ing system. He does not men- tion the 40 per cent hike in un- employment insurance payments, the hike in Canada pension plan contributions, nor the fact that the new fami- ly allowance scheme will cost more than twice as much as the old one. Government spending now represents 40 per cent of GNP, up from 38 per cent. NOVEMBER STATCAN reports a sharp slowdown in the growth of the gross national product in July, August and September. The finance minister says Canada needs "a very strong fourth quarter" to achieve the seven per cent increase he had forecast for 1973.' The prime minister an- nounces the framework of a national oil policy that appears more politically ex- pedient than economically comprehensive. The energy minister says there may be a severe shortage of oil in eastern Canada. John Shaheen surprises the energy minister by reminding him of the barrel a day oil refinery in, of all places, eastern Canada. DECEMBER Unemploy- ment is trending upward as the year ends, and will average out just below six per cent for 1973, perhaps four- tenths of a percentage point below last January's un- employment Several weeks from now, STATCAN -will release real growth figures for the Cana- dian economy in 1973 well below the predicted seven per cent. Andras, introduced two sackcloth-and-ashes bills. The first, a simple measure eliminating a ceiling, which no longer made sense, was passed without undue delay. But the second, which incor- porated the reform proposals, was not proceeded with in Parliament and, after long months on the order paper, was finally withdrawn. The explanation was simple and largely political. David Lewis, at the very outset, in- sisted that the bill was un- acceptable to the New Democrats. The government was unwilling to take the risk of seeking the necessary sup- port elsewhere in the House. In the official view, as presented by Mr. Andras, the measure has ceased to be necessary because many of the abuses have been eliminated by ad'ministrative measures. Without changes in the law, however, the fund could not be made self- sustaining on the old basis. The government obviously has settled instead for changes at the expense of contributors. The Toronto Globe and Mail commented last month on this situation, quoting reported remarks of another Liberal minister, Jack Davis, to the effect that the bill would be reintroduced and would probably meet defeat atjhe hands of the New Democrats and Conservatives. It was stated afterwards, by Mr. Andras, that the reports" were incorrect. Whatever Mr1. Davis may have said on the subject, the editorial provok- ed a letter from Duncan Beat- tie of Hamilton Mountain, who denies that there was a threat to the government in Bill C- 125. Mr. Beattie does not con- tend that every Conservative member would have sup- ported the measure. He in- however, that the Conservatives are not respon- sible for the withdrawal of the bill. "On the contrary, we would expedite the passage of the bill, if only the govern- ment will table it." He describes the measure as a "good first step" and states that the Conservatives favor legislation "that would restore the UIC to its original purpose; to provide help in the way of weekly payments to those who cannot find suitable employment." The Hamilton member also claims that there is opposition to the bill in the Liberal caucus. This may well be true it was the case earlier with the abortive FISP bill which some members were only too happy to abandon when it was blocked temporarily by Paul Hellyer But Bill C-125 certainly represented the Trudeau government's original, and probably its best, judgment of what was needed in the way of unemployment insurance reform. If Mr. Beattie is cor- rect in his assessment of the situation, the government can find a majority for it in the present Parliament at some risk, of course, to its relations with the NDP on whose support it has come to rely. Evidently Mr. Stackhouse shares Mr. Beat- tie's opinion in a release issued over the holiday, he charges that "Canadians who still believe in going to work every day are carrying what is becoming a financial monster." There is sometimes a delayed reaction to govern- ment measures as became evident, in the case of the original plan, during the 1972 election. Already there are rumblings of protest about the sharply increased con- tributions. In these circum- stances, the government may be in a rather uncomfortable position if it declines an op- position challenge to reintroduce its own bill. In a reply of December 12, Mr. Andras stated that government policy was un- changed. This may have meant only that the government, at that time, had taken no decision. Alter- natively, it may be the con- sidered view of ministers that what was buried in November should now remain decently interred. The Lethbridge Herald 504 7th Si S '.ethbridge. Alberta LETHBRIDGE HERALD CO LTD Proprietors and Second Cuss Mail Registration No 0012 CLEOW MOWERS, Editor and Publisher DONH PILLING Managing Editor DONALD R DORAM General Manager ROY F MILES Advertising Manager DOUGLAS K WALKER Editorial Page Editor ROBERT M FENTON Circulation Manager KENNETH E BARN6TT Business Manager "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"