With all the gloom-and-doom swirling around Edmonton this week, an outside observer might conclude a state funeral was in the works instead of an annual budget presentation. Yet while Premier Redford undeniably has tough decisions to make, there are promising signals that she is looking beyond bubbles and examining a range of more enduring solutions to the province's challenges.
If there was any confidence that Alberta's government would avoid imitating the failed policies of other provinces -- think of Quebec and Ontario and their massive debts -- that faint hope for continued Alberta exceptionalism was kiboshed at the recent Progressive Conservative convention in Calgary.
As many students enrolled in algebra class are likely discovering, numbers can be rather dry. But a proper understanding of them is indispensable to modern life. Without hard, reliable numbers regularly checked, much personal, business, and government planning would be akin to gambling: throw the dice, risk the cash and hope for the best.
The truth was that the provincial government had fudged the numbers and in fact the government ended up running a $2.6 billion deficit, the second largest deficit while under Don Getty's watch. This game of jiggery-pokery wasn't appreciated by Albertans and as such they started demanding the government open up their books and tell Albertans on a regular basis what was going on with the provincial budget.