I thought when I moved to Alberta from B.C. I’d be moving to a province not with a democracy, but to one with a monarchy, considering how long the ruling Conservative Party had been in power and the way it governed.
I knew that Ralph Klein was a little kooky, but I had no idea politics here would be every bit as interesting as the province I had left.
With the recent resignation of Premier Ed Stelmach and now Liberal Party leader David Swann, I wonder if the leaders of political parties are taking their queues from British Columbia. I had a sense of déjà vu when I heard Swann was quitting.
It actually made me laugh because it’s like B.C. politics where recently a tremendously unpopular Premier Gordon Campbell resigned and the leader of the NDP opposition Carole James quit shortly after that.
Sales taxes & lessons from B.C.
If that isn’t weird enough, I read yesterday that former Alberta finance minister Jim Dinning (and former Alberta Conservative leadership hopeful) is in B.C. to chair a panel to help explain why the HST is the best choice for B.C. (don’t ask B.C. residents what they think). Adding to the weirdness is the fact that Dinning may take a run at the Conservative leadership in Alberta, against now former finance minister Ted Morton (who quit the day after Stelmach did, so he could announce his candidacy).
The Alberta Conservatives have already floated the trial balloon of a provincial sales tax, so it would be interesting to see how Dinning’s recommendations to B.C. residents might play out.
For those who don’t know what’s happened in B.C., after the last provincial election, the B.C. Liberals sprung the HST on an unsuspecting population after promising not to. Canadians aren’t known for mass revolt, but that is the best way to describe the HST protests and recall petitions that are not done yet. It may have been good for businesses on paper but it’s been a wallet-sucking tax on B.C. citizens. I understand many businesses are suffering because of decreased revenues now.
Even weirder was former premier and Socred party leader Bill Van Der Zalm leading the charge to eliminate the HST. Alberta Conservatives should learn a few things from B.C., if they forget what happened to the Alberta Social Credit party. The B.C. Socreds had the same thing happen to them when the NDP trounced them in 1991 and they were finally wiped out in 1996 with the election of a Liberal government.
In a land without a sales tax, something Albertans are quite proud of, there might be riots at West Edmonton Mall should a government impose one. In an era of budget deficits, I’m sure Prime Minister Stephen Harper is dangling the carrot (bribe) of billions of dollars should Alberta saddle Alberta residents with an HST. I’m sure the government would indicate it would not be an HST, but you know it would be.
Oil & gas royalties will be cut, again
Also in this era of deficits, governments seem to think it’s a great time to shift the burden of taxation to individuals and away from corporations, saying it will “create jobs.” Economists seem to know there’s always multiples associated with government and business spending in terms of how many jobs may be created or the economic effects of tax cuts (or increases). MPs and MLAs claim that this isn’t that case and they’re not sure how many jobs will be created, but we are assured they will be. Let’s just hope those jobs aren’t created overseas, as is so often the case these days.
Perhaps Alberta could take a novel approach of eliminating corporate subsidies (reduced oil and gas royalties) in an attempt to balance its budget. Instead, with the ominous approach of the Wildrose Allliance, we’re seeing a radical shift to the right there and in the Conservative Party. We’re more likely to see the usual dipshit move of cutting social programs to balance the budget. When things get better, the government increases social spending, expecting to be treated like heroes for doing so.
Education isn’t really a Conservative priority
Social spending on education is never seen as an investment in the future, just a line item on the budget. With governments failing to sufficiently invest in post-secondary education, college and university students emerge from their programs with crushing debt and are often unable to find work.
So what does the future hold for Alberta? I’m sure it will continue to be interesting, if a little bizarre (more bizarre than usual). Perhaps I should make some predictions regarding the next election? It’s coming soon too. I already made a bet with a friend that if the new leader of the Alberta Conservatives doesn’t call an election within 30 days of being crowned leader, I’ll buy a membership in the party. Oh, they’d love me at a convention. If an election is called within 30 days, he’ll buy an Alberta Party membership. I am going to win.
- Alberta Conservative party “wins” the next election with a minority
- Wildrose Alliance official opposition
- Alberta Party comes in third
- NDP stays about the same
- Alberta Liberal party eliminated
- Raj Sherman joins the Alberta Party
- Conservatives continue to say they’re increasing seniors long term care beds, but aren’t
- More cuts to oil and gas royalties once Ted Morton is premier
- Emergency room waits in Edmonton will continue to kill patients
- Lindsay Blackett puts his foot in his mouth (as Environment minister)