The climate and energy challenge is frequently portrayed as a world of absolutes. We are either doomed, or salvation is just around the corner. We have either missed the narrow window to forestall disaster, or are told it is premature to act in the face of persistent uncertainties.
]Carbon taxes harm the poor more than the better off. A 2008 analysis of a $30.00/tonne carbon tax conducted by CUPE suggested that the poorest quintile in Canada would lose 1.7 per cent of household income, while the top quintile would lose only 0.86 per cent.
The Redford government gave Shell, $745 million back in 2012 to build the Quest CCS plant outside Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. At a time when our budget is operating under a deficit, the Premier is spending our taxpayer money to prop up billion-dollar corporations. That is what we call old fashion crony capitalism.
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.
On behalf of my province -- a close friend, ally and northern neighbor to the American people -- I can say confidently that Alberta and the United States share one of the most trusted and important relationships in the world. The United States is already Alberta's biggest customer for our oil. The Keystone XL pipeline will further cement the strong bond between Alberta and the U.S. and is important in developing a safe, secure North American energy partnership.
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.