RKS: Alberta has to stop living on credit and the hope for a better day


Shortly after I first graduated, I got a credit card. I was really excited to be a “real adult” now who could make online purchases and flash my plastic around. I took my parents out for dinner right after getting it, to show them how adult I was. 

Unfortunately, at some point approximately 30 days later, the bank wanted payment. And then the reality of what being an adult meant set in. 

Sadly, Alberta has never learned that lesson, and now they’re asking for a bail out from Daddy Trudeau because they’ve overextended themselves, and the job market has dried up. 

For over 50 years, Alberta has not balanced a budget on its own merits. Premier after Premier of several ideological flavours, have lulled Albertans into the false belief that you can have high class service, low taxes, and no debt or deficit. We called this the Alberta Advantage.

If 2015 to 2019 was a stark reminder of how untrue that was, 2019 to 2023 is going to be an ice cold shower. 

Under the NDP (and to the credit of the former governing Progressive Conservatives) we started to see some movement towards a more diverse industrial base. New renewable energy projects were popping up, Edmonton was touted as a top three destination in the world for artificial intelligence and machine learning. Investor and innovation tax credit programs that began under the PCs and were continued or expanded under the NDP were starting to take off. 

The United Conservative Party, deeply indebted and subservient to the oil and gas lobby put an end to all that. 

Instead of jobs, economy, and pipelines, we’ve been treated to deficit, debt, unemployment, and ideological muckraking as the UCP dismantles public health and education (pre and post-secondary) all in the name of “fiscal responsibility.” 

Kneecapping oneself to balance a budget (which they came no closer to doing than the NDP did; in fact, their first full budget projected $2 billion higher deficit than the NDP had), makes no sense. 

Instead of trying to grow the size of the pie, the UCP has decided they only really like one flavour and they’re going to go all in on that. 

To say it’s been infuriating to tune into public health updates each day only to hear Calgary Sun/ UCP stenographer Rick Bell lob softballs about O&G and the carbon tax to the Premier is an understatement. 

While drinking bitumen might alleviate Covid-19 symptoms, I’m sure that Health Canada wouldn’t approve it as a treatment, despite Jason Kenney’s protestations. 

The feds have already announced $1.7 billion in support for abandoned and orphaned wells clean up, with $1.2 billion of that amount earmarked for Alberta. Clean up and remediation of those wells is an industry responsibility, that should have been enforced by regulators, who have held inadequate assets to enforce our own legislation. That is a political failure on the part of Alberta’s conservatives.

Premier Kenney asked for another $15-30 billion in aid from the feds to prop up the oil and gas industry in Dr. Hinshaw’s media availability yesterday.

This is the same premier that loathes corporate welfare, has constantly berated federal deficits in the range of $10 billion, and who passed a budget based on $58 bbl West Texas Intermediate in March.

Kenney claimed he knew negative prices for a barrel of oil were a possibility months ago; yet the government proceeded with their wildly unrealistic plan mere weeks ago with that apparent knowledge. 

Which begs the question, are they incompetent or liars? A good portion of my readers seem to think it’s option C – all of the above. 

The reality is that Alberta is the only subnational government in the federation that refuses to reform its taxation system to be able to adequately fund its operations. Had we implemented the same system as Saskatchewan, we would have been at or near balance, perhaps even running surpluses, the last five years.

All of this could have happened while still having the lowest net tax burden in all of Canada.

Instead the NDP and the UCP have ran up the credit card in the hopes that maybe down the road we’ll get a good bonus to pay it off. 

Until the Government of Alberta can learn to be adults and acknowledge that all this socialism they’re asking for comes from taxes, it’s time that Daddy Trudeau says the till is closed. 

Robbie Kreger-Smith is a consultant for restaurants, communications, and marketing with previous partisan political experience in Alberta.

Connect: @RKSAlberta