October 23rd, 2020

Albertans have been down this bumpy road before


By Letter to the Editor on January 4, 2020.

A recent poll for the Canadian Press conducted by Leger shows that Premier Kenney’s approval rating has dropped significantly since being elected. Once the third-most popular premier nationwide, he is now the third least. Not surprisingly, given his firing of the election commissioner, tax cuts to large corporations and the wealthy, decreases in program funding in agriculture, secondary education and municipal funding, job cuts and wage reductions in the public sector and attacks on public pensions.

Albertans have been down this road before (a bumpy ride indeed given the lack of infrastructure funding under our previous Conservative tyranny) and our health-care and education sectors paid an egregious price from which we still have not recovered.

Kenney’s latest assault on Alberta’s most vulnerable citizens is aimed at our seniors. His decision to remove spousal and dependent coverage from the Seniors Benefit Plan will mean that thousands of Albertans on fixed incomes will have to pay out of pocket for their prescription drugs.

Albertans who survived the three-decade Klein debacle learned a very costly economic lesson. The public sectors suffered years of neglect and abuse so that Alberta’s Conservative government could boast that they were able to eliminate the province’s deficit and ultimately its debt. But what did they actually achieve in those extremely lean and trying years? When they finally announced that they had achieved their short-sighted goals, they discovered that their austere budgeting had created internal havoc. The highways were in complete disrepair. The hospitals were overcrowded, outdated and inefficient. And the public education system was suffering from a lack of qualified staff, overcrowded classrooms and outdated decaying educational facilities.

That is the province that Klein and his Conservative cronies created. And how did the Conservatives make use of the fail-safes established by their predecessors? Specifically the Alberta Heritage Fund! They could have managed the billions in oil revenues like the Norwegians did and have ended up will trillions in revenue. But they squandered most of these dividends by making questionable investments and establishing even more questionable priorities.

Perhaps, if anything, this underlines the difference between government which works to take care of its citizens and one that tends to value only the richest and greediest of its advocates.

Jane Allan

Lethbridge

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gs172

I’ll start off by saying I don’t agree with the way that the previous PC, NDP , current UCP, and the federal government’s have been running things. Saying that comparing us to Norway is apples and oranges. They call it Norwailing for a reason. In Norway the taxes on oil and gas are a 51% on petroleum based income along with 27% income tax making for a total of 78%. In Alberta it’s 10% on gross income and 12% corporate tax. Norway also has a state owned oil company which they gave 50% of all oil leases. Not so in Alberta as the rules in the former Nafta and now the USMXCAN gives foreign companies the right to sue if discriminated against. Mexico kicked out private oil companies 75 years ago but under Nafta big oil has prospered and as a result Pemex has taken a big hit. Also under the free trade agreement companies are not required to pay export taxes on unrefined or refined petroleum.

We are much closer to Alaska’s dividend system that pays it’s residents 1 to 2 thousand dollars a year as Alberta puts 100% OF Oil revenue into general revenue to keep taxes low. This actually benefits the wealthy as they don’t have to pay higher taxes to “balance” the budget. This exacerbates income equality.

Norway is also a country where Alberta is not. Money moves around Canada through Federal Transfers and Equalization so sometimes it doesn’t stay where it’s generated. I’m not going to go into the good or bad with that just noting that it’s a fact of life. Norway also is one of the heaviest taxed countries in Europe with an average personal income tax rate of 40%. It also has a VAT of 25%. Where in Alberta you would think the sky is falling if the mere mention of a sales tax labels you as a …. fill in the blank. I’m a supporter of a sales tax not because I liked to be taxed but because I would like to be off this roller coaster of boom and bust that seems to be the “Alberta Way”

And that’s why I’m quite frankly tired of being compared to a country where conditions are different, not saying we can do better and we should be.

Fescue

“Indeed, surely the debate should boil down to a simple question: Which model works better? Unless we are captives of ideology, we should want to know the answer to this basic question. Rarely has there been a more clear-cut divergence in economic strategies, enabling us to compare the merits of Alberta’s free-market private ownership approach with Norway’s model of public ownership and control” (McQuaig, 2019).

The bottom line: Norway has a trillion dollars in the bank, and have achieved greater social well-being and equality, better health, and stronger economic security for all their citizens. Alberta is running on fumes, with a $260 billion liability for cleaning up the mess that will be left behind once they pull up stakes.

I don’t know how one can ignore the comparison – it was (and is) a choice. It is even more important today to learn these lessons, as our current premier has decided to go all in on an industry that private investors are leaving in droves. Wouldn’t it be better to start investing in agriculture, our traditional economic base, rather than eliminating important agricultural programs, as the letter-writer has said? I am bewildered that conservatives in southern Alberta can’t see where our bread is being buttered.

Fedup Conservative

So maybe gs172 would like to explain to us why it worked so well in Alberta when Lougheed and Getty we’re charging proper royalties and taxes, along with health care premiums? Those of us who had ties to the oil industry aren’t dumb enough to believe the fact that Alberta isn’t a country has anything do with it. It’s all about what you are collecting . These lies were created by Klein and are still being believed today by these ignorant Alberta seniors , why?The fact is the Klein and Stelmach governments slashed royalties and taxes and eliminated the health care premiums to benefit their rich friends and Jason Kenney is doing it again. And once again Kenney is promising these same ignorant seniors that they are going to be forced to pay for what he is doing and they’re just too dumb to understand it.

gs172

Absolutely Lougheed was our best premier that we ever had, Getty not so much. It was during his tenor that Alberta got involved in businesses and not in a good way. Think Gainers, Novatel , Husky, Syncrude among others. Opec was created in the 70’s which led to high oil prices to the benefit of Alberta, in 1980 natural resource revenue was 50% of the all revenue that Alberta took in. So to answer your question there wasn’t a problem because Alberta literally had money coming out of its wazoo, even Ottawa wanted a piece courtesy of the defeated NEP When oil bottomed out in 80’s Getty responded by cutting royalties from 12% to 1% and investing in private business. In the 50 years from 1965 to 2015 Alberta has ran a deficit 46% of the time getting out of debt in the good times. Getty started without owing any money and left us 11 billion in debt. Klein was also lucky enough to govern when oil prices were above average and again Alberta started frittering away it’s surpluses, think Ralph bucks. Sometimes it feels like I’m living in a bi-polar province, we have high moments and then low. My worry is we’ll get so low we won’t be able to get out.

h2ofield

NDP managed to keep the province together , UCP gets in , 2 billion debt higher than NDP had budgeted . With the NDP the carbon tax money was reinvested back in Alberta , Kenney dumped that and now the carbon tax will go to Ottawa. Thanks Cons!