Beyond higher taxes or more debt, there has always been another option: prudent spending. However, that is something the Alberta government has been less than adept at in some years. For instance, had the province increased program spending after 2005/06 and to 2012/2013 but only in line with inflation and population growth, it would have spent $22 billion less compared to what it actually sent out the door.
As Albertans approach another provincial budget, the usual fables about Alberta's finances often crop up. To inoculate ourselves in advance, let's ponder two myths. Myth number one: "Alberta's wealth is a result of luck." This tall tale assumes that the existence of natural resources automatically results in wealth creation, jobs, and a higher standard of living. That's hardly the case. Plenty of jurisdictions have little in the way of natural resources but prosper, while others have plentiful natural resources yet flounder. Let's investigate myth number two: "Alberta is undertaxed."
Two political satirists, in the spotlight for their ongoing spoofery of the Alberta tar sands project, had the Indiegogo fundraising promotional video for their upcoming "vacation" to the Alberta tar sands ordered removed from YouTube after Alberta's tourism bureau alleged a copyright violation. Is Big Oil to blame?
Gerry Protti, Alberta's new overseer of environment and safety in the province's oilpatch, has been central to a network of oil industry front groups and lobbyists for many years and it is raising the eyebrows of more than a few people. Protti was recently named as the new head of the Alberta Energy Regulator, a new provincial agency whose mandate, is "...to provide for the efficient, safe, orderly and environmentally responsible development of energy resources in Alberta."
When Alberta Premier Alison Redford took to the television screen the other night, she paid much attention to the revenue side of the government's books. On Alberta's massive budget deficit, the premier blamed the below-world price that Alberta-based companies receive for oil. Nothing was whispered about past sweetheart deals with public sector unions.
Sometimes reading the national press makes me giggle. From those news stories one would get the impression the residents of my community fight about things like lack of parking, high rental costs, and our shortage of women. The funny thing is that we certainly have boomtown issues of just that nature, and other ones, too. But that isn't what gets Fort McMurray residents all hot and bothered. What gets people going here are issues that arise over where this community is headed - and one of those issues raised it's head recently over a little body of water in downtown Fort McMurray, a body of water called the Snye.