Alberta Conservatives finally at peace with multi-billion-dollar deficits

Last week, Alberta’s UCP government provided a fiscal update that informed Albertans their province was facing a deficit of $24 billion – and so far, there are not many complaints.

Jason Kenney’s government has been so focused on obtaining a “fair deal” from the federal government that it hasn’t been paying attention to what is going on in the province they are now responsible for.

Despite the fact that five days have passed since the government’s announcement, few of Alberta’s conservative opinion-mongers seem interested in holding them to account.

David Staples was the exception, placing the blame on “a decade” worth of spending that can no longer be fixed by thoughts, prayers or promising not to piss away the proceeds – again.

“When we compare revenues forecast by the Kenney government in February, fuel tax projections are now down $296 million and tobacco and vaping taxes down $68 million. Gaming will bring in $900 million less, liquor sales $2 million less,” Staples wrote.

Because, sure, let’s just ignore the fact that the UCP basically slapped a new date on the same budget they released in October 2019.

In February. On the verge of a pandemic.

Why would *that* be something we need to spend any time talking about?

But I digress.

At least Staples said something.

Rick Bell of the Calgary SUN, who has been away for a few weeks, felt the big story on his return must be Kenney’s poll numbers. Uh, okay.

It is only Tuesday.

Maybe nothing else hit Bell’s radar last week.

Lorne Gunter of the Edmonton SUN was nothing but apologetic for all of the forces outside of Kenney’s control.

Sure, it’s not really worth anyone’s time to compare that with what he also said about a deficit that was a third of the size we have today – regardless of whether that, too, was outside of government’s control.

*That* was when Alberta had an NDP government, after all.

Licia Corbella offered public sector wages up to help balance the budget; not that even $1 billion in savings will make a significant difference right now but it will please around a million voters.

And if you’re an Albertan who supports a UCP government – no matter what – that’s all that really matters.

Graham Thompson, who I’ve seen labelled as an “NDP shill” didn’t sugar coat either deficits under an NDP government nor the latest under the UCP, but he’s now freelancing, so, Albertans may not have seen his take on the latter – we are the Conservative (apologist) Heartland, after all.

And because we are both the Conservative Heartland, and Alberta, helps explain why there’s so little outrage about the deficit.

Aside from the fact that anyone paying attention knew the February budget tabled by the UCP needed serious revision, people have faith the UCP will cut enough revenue to pay it back.

No, that’s not a typo.

Unlike an NDP deficit, UCP supporters don’t care if their kids are on the hook for billions of dollars.

That’s what makes Alberta great today.

For the next generation… maybe not so much.

This post contains opinion.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a political commentator physically distancing in Southern Alberta. Connect: @Mitchell_AB for more, @thisweekinAB for posts

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