Those paying attention during the 2015 general election in Alberta would remember Brian Jean’s infamous lines during the leader’s debate; “the Wildrose will not raise your taxes”.
It was only infamous because it was his response to almost every question.
Kenney tried the same line during the last election campaign. He lied, as his first budget, and the Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayer Federation (quoting Kenney) clearly demonstrate. But I digress.
Bev Dahlby, a Research Director and Distinguished Fellow in Tax and Economic Growth at the University of Calgary, wrote an opinion piece published in the Calgary Herald noting Kenney’s cuts will reduce government revenue by $350 million dollars every year. Period.
It’s a fact which should be cause for concern to every Albertan. As we go about our days, on a crash-course with $100 billion dollars worth of debt, Kenney’s first promise ensures a continuous loss of much-needed revenue.
Citing the Blue-Ribbon Panel recommendations, as Kenney often does, Janice MacKinnon, a former NDP finance minister from Saskatchewan, suggested an immediate and necessary reduction of $600 million in annual spending; or $950 million since Kenney kissed the corporate tax goodbye.
Of note, Saskatchewan can’t pay people to stay in the province. Their population has been hovering around one million people since 1966. In 60 years, the province has managed to increase its population by just over 140,000, or 2,383 people per year. For contrast, the birth rate (at a new low) is about six times higher (and has been at least that for the majority of those years).
Assuredly, Jason Kenney chose Janice MacKinnon because she was a finance minister for the NDP. That may seem strange since he seems to have little to no respect for those who stand under an NDP banner. He likes to point out that she was NDP though, as if it somehow absolves him of responsibility for asking her opinion. But that’s not why she was appointed. She was appointed because she cut public services for Saskatchewan and she was asked to do the same for Alberta.
Yet even with the Blue-Ribbon Panel recommendations that Kenney loves to recite, he didn’t cut $600 million from the budget; like Doug Ford in Ontario, Kenney is spending more than the previous “left-wing” government – $2 billion more than last year.
And yes, he is also accounting for a $1.5 billion dollar fee to cancel the oil by rail contracts; this year.
According to the budget he plans to borrow the same amount next year.
“Alberta is broke,” Kenney says.
And that’s why he cut funding for public post-secondary institutions and severely handicapped people who cannot work (no insult intended; the program is called Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped). It’s why he cut funding for public schools. It’s why he cut municipal funding for capital projects and demanded a bigger share of fines for the province, cutting police funding. Remember the “photo radar is a cash cow for municipalities” argument? No, Albertans can’t count on Kenney.
While being broke might explain why he’s cutting funding, it doesn’t explain why he cut revenue too.
Dahlby also said his modeling shows that the corporate tax cuts will create jobs; but maybe not the amount we need. Kenney often claimed during his two-year campaign for Premier that “180,000 Albertans are still out of work” and Dahlby says the tax cuts could create 172,000 jobs… in ten years.
According to Jason Kenney, people need jobs now, and his government was was elected to bring them back; now – not ten years from now.
“Jobs, Economy and Pipelines by 2029” would have made a great campaign slogan if it wasn’t 2019.
This post is an opinion.
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