There might be a thousand reasons why people hate sales taxes. Here are three: First, they're visible; second, in Alberta, where no provincial sales tax exists, there is justifiable pride that people have escaped at least one tax applied elsewhere in Canada; third, many Albertans rightly fear that if a government introduced a new tax, it would be just another way to separate taxpayers from their money and to spend more and inefficiently so.
The last time Alberta was in a fiscal mess due to low energy revenues and over-the-top government spending, some politicians and pundits said what Albertans really needed was higher taxes. That was back in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Those voices were wrong then and they are wrong now.
Either you raise taxes or cut services to millions of Albertans. Or both. You can't make a balanced budget exist out of no where, although the Redford Conservatives have tried by calling their previous budget balanced by excluding capital funding. Skirting the fundamental problems with Alberta's governing party can only go so far and a part in government can only run around the issue for so long before reality hits.
The government can't be blamed for not anticipating a more bearish outlook by early February; it can be faulted for not budgeting more conservatively to begin with, including being more cautious on oil and gas price estimates.
The point Justin Trudeau, and largely the rest of Canada, has missed is the role British Columbia will play moving forward in Canada. If it's not obvious, it should be by now. With Vancouver MP Joyce Murray announcing her run for leader of the Liberal Party today, it's slowly setting the pace to which B.C. politicians will begin to take a more active role in shaping the country's policy.
Following days of accusations that Lynn Redford, sister of Alberta Premier Alison Redford, had been involved in illegal donations during her tenure as the Government Relations officer at Calgary Health Region, and subsequent accusations on the part of the CBC that Alberta Health Services has been "wining and dining" on the taxpayer's dime for quite sometime, the Deputy Premier struck back Thursday during Question Period.
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.
Conflict between B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford over the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to the West Coast is not in the long-range interests of either province and needs to be resolved. In July, Ms. Clark laid down five conditions for considering support of the project, including a provision that B.C. must receive a "fair share" of the fiscal and economic benefits. Ms. Redford's response was immediate and negative and seemed to assume that B.C. was seeking a share of Alberta's oil royalties, even though this was not the case. Since the Alberta Premier has been seeking to take the lead in developing a "national energy strategy," it's in her interests to take the initiative in negotiating a resolution to this dispute with British Columbia.
B.C. Liberal party director Mike McDonald made an interesting point on Sunday. Not one to miss an opportunity for a partisan shot given the nature of his political post, McDonald tweeted: "Shocked at low NDP turnout in Fairview. Huge media, high profile candidates, less than 400 voted. NDP support not deep." Despite the dig, McDonald is on to something. But what he's on to isn't pretty and regrettably it ails all political parties in B.C.
The criticism of B.C. Premier Christy Clark's strategy regarding negotiations over Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline is unwarranted. Clark has been clear on what the province requires in order to move forward with construction of the pipeline in Northern B.C. while her Alberta counterpart has given her little to work with. Clark said herself, it's her job to fight for B.C. and our environment. She's absolutely right, and we should all be in her corner cheering her on.
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.
You don't hear this stated much these days: The B.C. Liberals will win in 2013. You heard it here first. In one of the great resurrections in B.C. political history, on the evening of May 14, 2013 premier-elect Christy Clark will be grinning from ear to ear in front of a packed room of supporters in downtown Vancouver. She will thank her NDP opponent for running a spirited campaign, and graciously thank the voters of British Columbia for giving her a new four-year mandate.
The Northern Gateway is now becoming the National Nightmare. Canada has a new Two Solitudes in the 21st century. The dividing line is not the Ottawa River but the Rockies. It appears that in Alberta -- not just columnists but bloggers and tweeters as well -- seem to believe that if they just yell loud enough, that the people of B.C. will eventually realize their thought errors and join in supporting Alberta's manifest destiny.
The Council of the Federation meeting of provincial premiers -- which wrapped up last week in Halifax, Nova Scotia -- hit an important milestone: It placed the opportunity of the low-carbon transition and the imperative to finally do something about climate change squarely at the center of the Canadian energy agenda.
Well, the feisty dust-up between she-premiers Christy Clark of British Columbia and Allison Redford of Alberta has been a lot of things, but a feminine puff of perfumed air into our muddy phallocracy isn't one of them. When writing about a high-profile disagreement between two powerful women, one should always be sensitive, and avoid lapsing into lazy, sexist cliches. Unless, of course, you're a female writer.
Are Alberta MLAs superior to all others in Canada, who are paid less? Justice Major made a case for not placing too much emphasis on inter-provincial comparisons due to Alberta's unique economic situation. There is something to this, since our oil and gas sector wages are relatively high.