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Saskatchewan credit rating downgraded for second time by Standard & Poor’s and all we hear are crickets

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Premier Brad Wall. Image: Flickr/University of Saskatchewan

Can you hear the crickets chirping?

Wednesday was the longest day of the year, and Standard & Poor's chose the summer solstice to downgrade Saskatchewan's credit rating from AA+ to AA.

It was the second time in the past 12 months Saskatchewan's credit rating has been dropped by the famous New York credit rating agency, whose pronouncements are taken ever so seriously by conservative opposition parties here in Alberta.

But you could have waited all day and long after sunset -- which took place at 10:07 p.m. here in the capital of Alberta, if you were wondering -- to see a press release from either the Wildrose Party or the Progressive Conservative Party condemning Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and his conservative Saskatchewan Party government for this obvious failing.

Funny, that!

Because it's certainly never taken this long for an angry press release to appear from the offices of either of Alberta's two main conservative political parties when the same thing happened to Alberta's New Democratic Party Government for the same reasons.

It turns out that increasing debt caused by keeping the lights on in resource dependent provinces in the face of low oil, natural gas and other resource prices has had pretty much the same effect in Saskatchewan governed by conservatives as it has had in Alberta governed by social democrats.

That said, a good economic case can be made that Alberta will be in far better shape as both provinces recover from the downturn because the NDP has not laid waste to health care, education and other public services, as the Saskatchewan Party is doing.

Perhaps that's why the Canadian Federation of Independent Business May 2017 Business Barometer survey shows optimism in social democratic Alberta growing strongly to 62 per cent while it "took a nosedive" in free-market Saskatchewan to 49 per cent. Oddly, this story too was barely reported my media that normally slavishly follow CFIB pronouncements.

Regardless, when Standard & Poor's downgraded Alberta's credit rating for the second time, from AA to A+ last month, the Wildrose press release called it a "disastrous credit downgrade."

"This is totally unacceptable," wailed Wildrose Leader Brian Jean, who is already a candidate to lead the still-unbirthed United Conservative Party.

"Credit rating agencies don't care what politicians say, they care what they do, and the NDP are doing nothing but dithering while Alberta's deficit spirals out of control," shrieked Wildrose Finance Critic Derek Fildebrandt, another UCP leadership candidate.

The Wildrose Party called on Premier Rachel Notley's government to slash spending, as the Saskatchewan Party has been doing under Mr. Wall. Alert readers will recall that not so long ago Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney, the original candidate to lead the UCP, hailed Premier Wall as "the real leader of Western Canada."

The first time an S&P downgrade happened (to Alberta), the PC news release called it "a major blow to our economy." (Economics hint: It wasn't really, although it does increase borrowing rates somewhat.)

Postmedia's newspapers devoted a mere 128 words to the Saskatchewan credit rating downgrade yesterday. However, in the foundering newspaper chain's defence, they did shamefacedly retract their original headline, which read, "S&P upgrades Saskatchewan's credit rating to AA." Postmedia left in place the story's original URL -- which still contains the upgrade error.

So, just when will we be seeing the Wildrose and PC attacks on the Real Leader of Western Canada's apparent mismanagement of the Saskatchewan economy?

Chirp-chirp! Chirp-chirp!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

Image: Flickr/University of Saskatchewan

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