I’ve never actually heard that there’s a ghost in the Premier’s Office at the Alberta Legislative Building, but apparently there’s a dusty old speech that was left in a drawer by some forgotten premier in the distant past, Peter Lougheed, probably. 

The late premier of Alberta, Peter Lougheed (Photo: Government of Alberta).

It goes something like this: 

“As we all know, Alberta is blessed with abundant natural resource wealth; however, the volatile price of oil and gas often has us riding a budget roller coaster from year to year.

“And trying to predict world oil and gas prices is much like predicting the weather during an Alberta Spring. …

“Bouncing between years of plenty, and then having to choose between incurring massive debt or cutting key social programs is not the recurring story Albertans want to see time and again.

“It is time for our province to implement a long-term strategic financial plan that gets us to a stable balanced budget each and every year with predictable and stable revenues to fund our core social programs.”

The late premier of Alberta, Ralph Klein (Photo: Alberta Order of Excellence).

Do you remember hearing something that?

That’s because – so the legend goes – sooner or later every Alberta premier starts to wander around the office late at night, maybe with a drink in hand, or maybe not, and finally spies a desk drawer that hasn’t been opened in a long, long time. 

They pry it open – it may take a while, because unused desk drawers can be sticky – and there’s the dusty speech, the paper on which it was written, possibly with Mr. Lougheed’s personal quill pen, brown and curling at the edges. 

The premier sits down in his – or her – chair and begins to read …

“Say, this is pretty good stuff,” she thinks. “With a little change here or there, I could read it tomorrow.” 

Dave Hancock, about the only premier since Lougheed who wasn’t around long enough to do anything except pose for this painting (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

And so she does …

The words quoted above didn’t actually come from Mr. Lougheed’s pen, of course, but were taken right from the fresh, white, crisp and sharply computer printed pages of Premier Danielle Smith’s televised pre-Budget speech to the province last night.

But if you thought it sounded familiar, that’s OK, because it was. 

If you’ve been around Alberta for any time at all, you will have heard pretty much the same thing at one time or another from the mouths of Don Getty, Ralph Klein, Ed Stelmach, Alison Redford, Jim Prentice, or Jason Kenney.

I don’t recall Dave Hancock saying anything like that, but he wasn’t really around as premier long enough to do anything except get his portrait on the wall. 

As for Rachel Notley, I can hardly recall what she said about taxes once she became premier, but whatever it was, she delivered pretty much what Mr. Prentice had promised. 

Richard M. Nixon, the late president of the United States, who went to China (Photo: U.S. Department of the Army).

Getting back to Ms. Smith’s eight minutes of video, other than going back on a promised tax cut, giving a shout-out to Mr. Klein, and a taking cheap shot at the federal Liberals for letting the prime minister come to Edmonton to make the UCP look foolish by actually spending some money on the housing crisis, she stuck pretty close to the legendary Lougheed speech. 

“Bluntly stated, our province has become unsustainably dependent on non-renewable resource revenues,” she said. (This is true.)

But we just can’t rely on non-renewable resource revenues to balance Alberta’s budget year after year. “That is a recipe for massive debt and cuts to health and education whenever the price of oil takes a dip for a year or two – or more.” (This is also true.) 

“It is not sustainable.” (This is true in spades!)

This was the moment that Ms. Smith almost had me. 

She’s really going to do something, I thought, to solve the problems caused by Alberta’s ridiculous, childish approach to budgeting that has been the economic bane of this province since Mr. Getty was premier!

A desk, with a drawer, in the Premier of Alberta’s office … really (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

She’s really going to do it! She’s actually brave enough to impose a sales tax!

What the hell, I thought, why not? It took Nixon to go to China. (With a little push from Kissinger.) Why not Smith to impose a sales tax? 

Then the letdown.

“Some say the answer is higher income taxes or a sales tax,” Ms. Smith went on. “I reject this.”

Of course she rejected it. 

This is Alberta.

Instead, Ms. Smith promised austerity even if oil revenues stay high. 

Rest assured, though, any money that gets pumped out of the ground will go somewhere

Just not to anything we need here in Alberta. 

Take note frustrated doctors and nurses thinking of leaving Alberta for greener pastures to the west or east, any dime you manage to pry out of the hands of Ms. Smith’s finance minister will be bent. 

As for putting Alberta on a “path to prosperity that will last long after our last barrel of oil has been produced,” y’all know how likely that is to happen if austerity in the medication Ms. Smith prescribes to cure our province’s ills. 

In a year or two, with an election looming and the NDP breathing down her neck, mark my words that Ms. Smith will pull out the provincial wallet and start spending once more. 

But the spectre that haunts Alberta – fair taxes – has disappeared again. 

Someday maybe Premier Ganley, or Premier Toews, will find that speech. Maybe they’ll even dust it off and read it aloud.

Then they’ll stuff it back in the same drawer and forget about it just like all those other premiers did. 

Face it, folks, we’re never going to grow up and fix the problem with Alberta’s finances.

Thank you. Good night. Alberta will remain forever the poor little rich kid of Confederation. 

Join the Conversation


  1. Yes, this is exactly the problem. Ms. Smith, whose mind likes to wonder sometimes explores different ideas, walked right up to it and set us up for this discussion but stopped short. She is after all a politician who wants to stay in power who tends to say glib things she feels people want to hear. It is a shame, it was likely an opportunity missed to finally have a more serious fiscal discussion with no upcoming political election to detract from it.

    So, instead Smith will try the old Klein approach – constrain government spending, hope resource revenues hold up and try to bolster government reserves for the inevitable downturn. We’ve been down this road in the past and there are a number of problems. First, obviously inadequate levels of services, second then the pressure will built to do something with those growing reserves. So third sooner or later the Premier will find themselves madly mailing out rebate cheques, cutting taxes or maybe both to try molify cranky voters. It may work temporarily to distract, but after the sugar rush, people will go back to being dissatisfied about service levels. Lest we forget, in the end his own party got rid of Klein for his lack of vision and listlessness.

    Also, if that is not bad enough the fiscal windfall party will eventually end. Something will happen resource revenues will fall dramatically and those supposedly formidable reserves will melt faster than an ice cream cone on a hot summer day.

    So, if insanity is doing the same thing again and expecting or hoping for a different result, Smith is there. We need something better than rehashed ideas from the past that didn’t work then and won’t now, dressed up as something new and brilliant.

  2. Austerity, tax obsess, more corporate welfare, blame a couple years of NDP for decades of bad choices, blame the feds, wave arms and shout about the culture war. Rinse and repeat. It’s like modern radio… same half dozen songs sandwiched between inane chatter all day every day.

  3. That’s what I thought, too: a sales tax. That would be one way for the premier’s name to go down in history. And why not? With more than three years left in her term, surely the folks of this province would adjust to the idea before the next election. They might even see the wisdom in it. Alas, the next election is not Smith’s main concern. Her strings are being pulled by a little man behind the curtain. The little man is testy. There will be no sales tax.

    (What the heck was up with that strange grey filter used for the speech last night and the completely immobile hands that the premier usually uses to pinch air? I swore the hands were affixed from a Barbie doll. Was the whole thing an AI?)

  4. Restraint is the precursor of privatisation. Government in the poor house sells off public services and lands. 29.9 million in crown land sold a few weeks ago according to BOE news. Where’s the public process? Where’d the money go? She’s auctioning off our land every two weeks. We pay the price of her restraint and sectet car boot sales, not industry. Diversified economy? Renewables, but she hammered that one. No government has done so little for Albertans and so kuch damage. She’s a train wreck and a thief.

  5. All is not lost, Albertans. Your government website reports that vehicle licence renewal fees are $93 yearly. Our buck a beer Premier Ford axed such fees in February 2022 costing the government over one billion dollars a year according to CTV News. How rich we must be?

  6. And then someone will mention Norway….for 3 seconds….before putting that example of resource extraction, electric vehicles and higher taxes back in the “Do Not Open” box.

  7. It is a matter of arithmetic. Premier Lougheed raised royalty rates from 17% to 40%. The money was socked away in the Heritage Fund. Five years later, Norway, with only 40% of Alberta’s fossil production, and most of that at the bottom of the North Sea, started doing the same thing. Norway now has well over one Trillion US dollars in its heritage fund. Thanks to the Cons looting Alberta, the net-value of Alberta’s fund is close enough to zero not to matter.

    The pathetic Notley NDP actually got talked into hiring a charming oil field financier to review royalty rates. In consequence, royalty rates were effectively lowered again. Alberta now has a $300 billion clean-up liability for derelict oil and gas sites the private sector has walked away from (gee thanks Con/UCP filth!). So, even if royalty rates are re-set to 40% where they should be, how much will be left after the clean up? Make the oil companies pay to clean up their own mess you say? What a dream! As has often been pointed out, we are captives in a petrol-state controlled by carpetbaggers.


  8. In other news yesterday, Todd Loewen announced that a dusty old beaver mascot is in leading Alberta’s 2024 wildfire program. It will be working alongside Ric McIver, who apparently does remove his sunglasses, but outdoors. Learn about firefighting on the internet for free so you can volunteer. Busy beavers are go!

  9. …and all just in time for public sector unions, such as United Nurses of Alberta, whose contract is up for renegotiation as we speak.
    And, it remains, as we are in a drought emergency in Alberta, which sectors will be asking/pleading, for financial assistance. Can it, again, only be imagined that a drought disaster is an economic disaster in the $billions waiting to happen, if not already.
    Again, as Premier Smith likes to compare Alberta to other provinces…they all, have a consumption tax. A 6% consumption tax, on which many monied Albertans could afford, would bring in about $11 billion/year.

  10. Yes, I too was hoping. But this plan will lead to an infrastructure deficit, a la Klein. Two things must be fixed in Alberta. As Peter Lougheed said well, oil royalties must get a fair share for the province. And a harmonized sales tax must be introduced, however bitter the pill Even Jimmy Dinning understands this is an efficient fair tax. Otherwise the problem currently appearing as a budget deficit will appear by other issues, such as social deficits, infrastructure deficit and so on. These people have short memories, as this is the Klein illness. Danni is showing her lack of acumen.

    1. Alberta enjoys the lowest taxes in North America. A sales tax is great for everyone not paying income taxes, but its a regressive tax on the poor, who end up paying it on all of their income, while richer folks do not. Vulnerable albertans bear enough of the brunt living in this very unequal province, I hardly think adding a SALES TAX to their troubles could ever be considered fair. What if instead of a general sales tax we tax the things rich folks buy? New car sales ? New home sales ? Real estate speculation ? Investment income ? Jewellery? Fine dining ? What if we actually made Darryl Katz pay a reasonably amount of money for turning downtown into a ghost town ? Of course none of these things will happen but y’all will label sales taxes as progressive over my dead body. Have a nice day.

  11. Hello DJC, while I don’t profess to be a wise old sage like the oft quoted Jack Mintz or the spry Trevor Tombe, regarding taxes I have changed my position on a provincial sales tax. While previously I was an advocate to stabilize revenue streams, in conversations with others, it was pointed out that sales taxes are highly regressive.

    The ideal solution is increasing taxes on higher incomes and businesses, maybe take us back (TUB not to be confused with TBA) to where tax rates were in the 50’s, wasn’t that when we were all great? However, as you point out, the likelihood of this occurring is slightly less than the Oldman River overflowing its banks this year.

    Also, with your mention of premier portraits on the walls of the legislature, have some sympathy for school aged children doing the legislature tour in 5-10 years time, who will have the judgemental gaze of both Kenney and Smith glaring down on them. Maybe Kenney’s will have a button that when pushed exclaims “I reject the premise of your question!”.

  12. Isn’t it wonderful that this Genius Danielle Smith is able to predict what our oil industry is going to be able to provide over these next many years so she can build up our Heritage Trust Fund that should never have been destroyed in the first place. How stupid does she think Albertans are? Well she knows they elected her didn’t they? Her mouthpiece Lorne Gunter is once again praising her and proving what a fool he is along with these ignorant seniors who were dumb enough to support her. What a surprise.

    1. Alan K. Spiller: I read that column from Lorne Gunter, and it has a lot of ignorant comments on it. The column itself is devoid of any truth.

  13. In 2019, the Alberta Energy Regulator estimated the reclamation liabilities for oil and gas wells in the province were $30.30 billion, plus another $28.35 billion for reclaiming mining sites. Those estimates could be low by multiples; the liabilities continue to accrue, and the figures probably do not include things like groundwater impacts or long-term site maintenance and monitoring. Until those liabilities are covered, resource revenues are ephemeral, and the Heritage Fund should be renamed the Cleanup Fund.

    Meanwhile, as former Liberal leader David Swann often observed, adopting the lowest provincial sales tax in Canada (a point or two below Saskatchewan’s 6 percent) would finally get us off the “resource revenue roller coaster.” With a Harmonized Sales Tax, the feds would even take care of collecting it. But it will require some not-yet-seen combination of calamity and/or charisma to get that message across to politicians and the electorate.

    1. Robert: Depopulation, rust-belt collapse followed by the possibility of federal trusteeship are in our future, although not any time soon. Martin Z. Olszynski of the University of Calgary estimated on social media today that the true cost of cleaning up oil and gas wells, which the oil companies have already agreed to pay but the UCP government makes no effort to collect, is closer to $260 billion. DJC

      1. The $260 billion reclamation liability figure actually came from an AER official in 2018 as a “worst case” scenario: $130 billion for mining projects, $100 billion for conventional oil and gas and steam-driven oilsands, and $30 billion for pipelines. After his presentation became public, the AER hastily “apologized” and asserted the proper total was around $58 billion, similar to the sum of the numbers I mentioned. Allowing for inflation and continued oil activity since 2018, Olszynski’s figure may be on the low side of the current “worst case.” See

        1. Robert: Contrary to what you may read in fossil industry sponsored web sites, Alberta is a petro-captured state, top to bottom. All totalitarian states operate the same way. Con/UCP political commissars are embedded into every institution in this province. One of them took umbrage with the poor guy who presented AER data which was not flattering to THE PARTY. Almost everybody in the provincial civil service understands that although they work for the people of Alberta who pay their salaries, they must toe The Party Line. To tell the truth as the AER official did (we already have a “worst case” and an aggregate of $260 billion in unfunded liabilities) is to be fired and banished as an example to others. Which is exactly what happened.

          See also: Dr. Swann and air pollution or Dr. Dr. John O’Connor and weird cancers downstream from the tar sands, or the attempts to silence scientists who found chemically deformed fish downstream from the tar sands for other examples.

  14. Danielle Smith is another pseudo Conservative and Reformer who is good with flattering speech, and people who aren’t in tune with reality, will go right along with it. There are multiple matters at play here. The first issue is that Peter Lougheed’s oil royalty regime was reduced to a fraction of what he was getting. Ralph Klein, a Liberal turned Reformer, shaved our oil royalty rates down to 1%, when it used to be in the upper 30% range, when Peter Lougheed was premier. In addition, Ralph Klein also is responsible for leaving us with an enormous cost of $260 billion to rectify the orphan wells that are scattered throughout the province of Alberta. In combination, these two things have forfeited us of over $800 billion. Who knows what Ralph Klein reduced our natural gas royalty rates to? On top of this, these pseudo Conservatives and Reformers did many other very pricey shenanigans, over the years, which cost us billions of dollars more. On top of this, more and more less expensive types of oil are coming on the market. The oilsands in Alberta will be left behind. This has already been an issue for over a decade and a half, but that is accelerating, as more less expensive sources of oil are showing up. When we see what Alaska and Norway have, with their oil wealth, we should be very embarrassed that we have so little wealth in Alberta.

  15. “ Thank you. Good night. Alberta will remain forever the poor little rich kid of Confederation.”

    Until it becomes the poor little poor kid of Confederation…

  16. Well take duly note of you points HER TRUDEAU, Rachael must have loved helping you write this one sided garbage.

    1. Doug: Yes, it was awfully nice when Rachel, Lew and Johnny Cash came over and helped me write my blog. They brought me tea and cake and a big bag of cash from George Soros. There, I’ve said what I was thinking without using the F-word and you can run along and do something more productive, like playing in the street. DJC

      1. Hey!! George Soros promised that bag of cash to me!!! I better call Bill Gates about it on the mRNA cell phone he gave me.

    2. Doug: Those of us who despise these phony Conservatives and Reformers who destroyed what Peter Lougheed created for us, don’t feel we should have to put up with the harm they are causing.

      1. Chuck: I wondered the same thing. Usually I try to correct obvious typos in readers’ comments, but this one was particularly incoherent. I do feel it serves a useful pedagogical function for readers to see the occasional contributions of Alberta’s political right. DJC

        1. It may be more than just a typo. This old man thinks we are in big trouble with poorly educated folks out there. I wonder if Pollievre for example likes the poorly educated?

        2. Tis clear to me that the insult is meant to communicate how our prime minister is like a German fascist of the 20th Century.

          Proceeding from this, if they choose to respond, will be an oblique insinuation of paternal infidelity, and damning association to Communism, with their reply’s passing reference to Fidel Castro.

          Unfortunately I’ve become familiar with these tropes by reading public comments on traditional news articles. I suggest you allow me the masochistic martyrdom and that you refrain from becoming so versed.

        3. I was wondering the same thing, I think he means that Rachel Notley is Trash Can Dani’s “Trudeau” but her Trudeau is just, the Prime Minister, clearly.

          He also may have been drunk.

      2. Heir Trudeau, as in that “socialist communist” I presume , though mixed metaphors seems to be the rage with CONservatives. If you asked them what the words mean, I’m reasonably sure they couldn’t give a definitive answer either way,

  17. Considering that Norway’s own strategy to dminish the importance of fossil fuels in their economy has wrought some very ambitous and impressive policy iniatives. Norway is a fast-growing leader in hydroelectric, geothermal, solar, wind, and tidal electical power generation; so much so that there is so much capacity in their grid, they are becoming a major exporter of electricity throughout Europe. So, I did Norwar this enviable position? The has a sovereign wealth fund that was largely inspired by Alberta’s Heritage Fund. The difference is that Norway’s fund is over $1T USD in value and Norway, unlike Alberta, actually behaves like they own their natural resources, and demands to be paid first. And that’s why Norway is better and smarter than Alberta.

    So, Danielle Smith went on for eight minutes and yammered about how Alberta’s economic situation was unsustainable (which has never been news) and there must be a commitment to a non-fossil dependent future. Great. But this is coming from a UCP government that put a hard to explain six month pause on renewal energy generation projects — a pause on $28B in investments. But no worries, because Queen Danielle has changed her tune (again) and has embraced an O&G free future. Yeah, right.

    Her Majesty went on about how “billions would be added” the languishing Heritage Fund, which has failed to grow beyond its value in the 80s, thanks to endless tapping into it to avoid taxes. But where will these billions come from?

    A sales tax? That will surely be the death knell of Smith’s premiership, as the TBA voter base will pillory Smith for that act of theft. How about that 53% slice from the CPP? Now, that’s the ticket. Provided that Skippy Pollivere doesn’t completely mess up his claim to 100% of the seats in the HofC, that money is as good as Smith’s.

    But then there’s all those liabilities that Alberta has chosen to take on. R-Star (or whatever it’s called now) is a $200+ B charge on the behalf of an O&G industry not following through on their legal obligations to clean up their environment mess. And then there’s those endless big spending plans to finish PMJT — war is expensive; just ask the War Room.

    And there you have it…eight minutes of crazy, wild guess, and shoulda-couldas from the UCP.

    Mo’ popcorn.

    1. “How about that 53% slice from the CPP? Now, that’s the ticket.” Were Mr. Peepers to even mention such a scam his head would be paraded on a pike from Windsor to the Quebec border and up to Moosonee.

      1. Mike–
        CUPE–Sept 30 2015
        Ten things to know about Conservatives Old Age Security cuts…..

        4. Harper had a secret agenda to cut pensions.

        As part of the Harper cabinet, “Mr Peepers ” is well aware that the 2011 Conservative party election platform, unequivocally stated ” we will not cut transfer payments to individuals or to the provinces for essential things like health care, education and pensions “. Less than 1 year after his election victory, Harper revealed his secret plan to cut OAS. Between the election and the announcement of the cuts ,no new information on OAS came to light, so there is no reason Harper could not have campaigned on this honestly.

        IMHO, both Marlaina and Skippy are just following the old playbook, and when pinned down about the APP just said Albertans should stay in the CPP. For now? Because both of them are counting on a majority in 2025 and there’s going to be another ‘452’ page omnibus bill passed; how else will Skippy be able to give those powerful paycheques he keeps touting. Seniors will just have to work till they are 72, pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. The gullible have never really figured out what the expression ‘ trickle down effect ‘ really means, to their own detriment.
        Are Skippy and Marlaina coming after our pensions??
        Are there Zombie forest fires burning in the middle of the winter? **
        Like the sign said: “_____” is a liar, correct me if I’m wrong.

        **I don’t suppose those have anything at all to do with the fracking; eg. up at Fox Lake or around any of the tailing pond leaks…..that’s not possible, is it?

    2. To be fair, Norway does own their resources, we go about stealing ours every day because treaty six only allows “the depth of a plow”, something we roundly ignore every single day we talk about oil and gas in this province. Maybe they’re behaving like thieves because they’re thieves.

    3. Just Me Great comments. After having ties to the oil industry as a Royal Bank Manager I haven’t forgotten what I learned from Lougheed’s former MLAs , lawyer friends, oilmen friends, and what Peter Lougheed told my parents and as a banker I certainly agree. There is no way to fix these “Horrific Mess”as Lougheed called it unless they increase corporate taxes and royalties back up to the Lougheed levels. Notley was trying to do that however the oil industry crash of 2014 prevented her from doing it. Of course these Reformers aren’t smart enough to realize that.

  18. Always seek out your commentary and follow you on X. I appreciate what you contribute to the discussion on Alberta politics. It’s informed through a long lens.

    1. Lars: I could only speculate. One doesn’t like to be cruel about an artist’s best efforts, but Mr. Hancock’s cartoonish portrait is proof that former premiers should not be allowed to pick their own artists for these portraits. In my opinion, they should be given a choice of artists selected by a panel of people with some expertise in art or, if they want to step outside that group, to submit the name of the artist to the panel for an assessment. Or we could adopt the policy of British Columbia, a modest photographic portrait. DJC

  19. I just noticed this article in the Edmonton Journal. Alberta declares an early start to wildfire season :The season traditionally has run from March 1 to Oct. 31

    The article goes on to say :
    Loewen said his department is asking for enough extra funding in the budget to hire an extra 100 firefighters. If that request is approved, they will be in the field by May 15, he said.

    That’s in addition to the 900 firefighters the province fielded in 2023, who are expected to be ready by April 15, said Loewen.

    Am I missing something here? Should one not have fighters in place “before” the start of the fire season?

  20. > a sales tax. That would be one way for the
    > premier’s name to go down in history.
    You mean go down go down to the political graveyard? Is there a politician anywhere that is remembered favourably for the new taxes (especially sales taxes) that they brought in? One moment while I ask Brian Mulroney.

    1. Remind: once powerful BC Liberal premier, Gordon Campbell, was forced to resign in disgrace, his Gallup popularity having sunk to the polling company’s record low of 9% (tied with Richard Nixon) because, having just won his third term, he imposed an HST he campaigned not to do, subsequent evidence showing he had planned to do so all along. It was, in retrospect, the beginning of the end for the BC Liberals—although it took several years and a non-confidence vote in the Assembly to finish them off.

      Now, that might seem to support your “taxes-are-death” theory—except that the net effect of replacing the old PST with an HST was actually lower costs for businesses required to collect sales taxes—presumably a savings that would be passed down to consumers in sticker-price and, therefore, PST owed—a ‘free-enterprise’, tax-cutting argument Campbell was sure would prevail. But, spectacularly, it did not outweigh his blatant dishonesty.

      Coming out of two decades of ignominious retirement (also forced to resign), former Socred premier Bill Vander Zalm and NDP strategist Bill Tieleman cosponsored an anti-HST petition and referendum drive under Citizens’ Initiative legislation which, ironically, “The Zalm” himself put on the 1991 general election ballot in a futile attempt to save the Socred dynasty which had governed BC for all but three years since 1952. Voters heartily approved adopting CI but did not re-elect the Socreds; Mike Harcourt’s NDP government was bound by the Referendum to pass the requisite legislation, known to most as “Recall”.

      The 2009 HST Referendum results showed how the electorate’s antipathy for the BC Liberals’ HST crossed party lines just like outrage over Campbell’s campaign lie did: the HST was soundly rejected despite the savings it might have given businesses and, thence, their customers.

      Rescinding and replacing the HST with the old PST effectively raised taxes. True, the NDP Opposition officially supported returning to the PST during the Referendum campaign and lost the subsequent 2013 election, but that was more to do with its foolish “positive politics”campaign that blew a 20-point lead going in. Naturally there were other issues which would eventually condemn the BC Liberals, but it was the HST which conspicuously united the electorate in this otherwise polarized province. It was only one of many BC Liberal perfidies, but one which became iconic despite the electorate’s notoriously short political memory.

      In 2017 the BC Liberals came up one seat short of a majority and were toppled by an NDP-Green parliamentary alliance. The BC Liberal Opposition was soundly thrashed in 2020 and, now polling in the low-mid teens, seems to be evaporating just like the Socreds did over two decades before.

      The BC Liberal government vigorously campaigned on the savings the HST offered and that reverting to the old PST would raise costs for businesses which would then pass them on to consumers, of course adding to the PST on every item sold. Voters were thus perfectly aware of the math but rejected the HST anyway on the principle that politicians shouldn’t lie, especially on the touchy matter of taxes. It was the first time in eight centuries of Westminster parliamentary history around the world that a legislated tax was rescinded by force of popular measure.

      Alberta is unique among the provinces in not having a sales tax but I wonder if Alberta voters aren’t also uniquely inured to lying politicians. BC might also be exceptional, if not unique, because effectively lowering sales taxes eventually resulted in their rival BC Liberals’ demise but, in contrast, advocating for a return to the PST which effectively raised how much sales tax customers pay didn’t seem to particularly hurt the NDP. Today it is riding high in the polls as the October election approaches while the BC Liberals (now called “BC United”) have lost two-thirds of their support to the upstart BC Conservative Party and, thus disunited from this polity, will probably wither away to nothing.

      I concede the BC NDP government seems to have appreciated the usually impolitic measure of raising taxes when it drafted its most recent budget, announced just yesterday: instead of raising taxes to meet a daunting list of exceptional costs and demands (affordable housing, climate change, overdose epidemic, Covid-caused inflation, geriatric healthcare, &c) the government opted to spare citizens the cost of these extra burdens all at once by way of good old-fashioned deficit financing.

      Of course BCU leader Kevin Falcon condemns deficits by rhetorical rote, bragging that he was once BC Liberal finance minister —perhaps unwisely because his rivals are sure to remind voters of his policy of hiding tens of billions of dollars in Crown Corps as “deferred debt” in order to artificially balance the books without running a deficit—a shady accounting practice the BC Auditor General unconditionally condemned every single year of the BC Liberals’ 16-year regime. In retrospect, BC Liberal tax cuts —that is, NOT raising taxes—left BC citizens a legacy of debt repayment for which it is dead easy to assign blame. I rather doubt Falcon will be able to sell massive funding cuts for emergent crises in order to avoid deficits which the NDP has, unlike the BC Liberals, openly and reasonably implemented.

      I simply remind that there can be exception to the “taxes-are-death” heuristic.

    1. Just finished reading the recommended article and the future for this province is quite frankly, terrifying. And that’s without considering the ‘Smith Effect’. The worst thing Albertan’s can do going forward, is continuing to elect any flavour of conservative because those people haven’t got a clue and they don’t care about future generations.

  21. IF there is a hiring freeze at AHS then Albertans are in trouble.

    What the Government and AHS is not telling, or should I say hiding..

    -the normal demographics are at work vis a vis retirement

    -normal retirement ages that were anticipated by AHS are excellerating. Many of those health professionals in their mid to late 50’s are retireing early
    because of the workload, their health and the work environment.

    -attrition…younger staff members are leaving at an increased rate. They are doing one of two things. Leaving the province or changing careers

    -the real kicker….AHS has been less than successful in attracting out of province health care professionals. Is it any wonder??

    It is not good. There is a good deal of worry and concern within the AHS ranks. Absolutely nothing of substance appears to be happening to address the issue.

    1. Some on social media claim that the hiring freeze is due to the UCP not having the budget to pay out the people they’ve dismissed due to restructuring and hire staff for other unfilled positions.

      Queensland is advertising for nurses on social media here in Alberta. For those who don’t mind beaches and sunshine, the offer might be tempting.

    2. Brett You are absolutely right. With 923,000 Albertans looking for a family doctor and 61% of remaining doctors saying they are leaving because of how they have been treated us seniors are going to be in a horrible mess. One of the doctors I helped relocate out of the province when Klein was kicking them around said it best “Why should I stay in Alberta and support my patients, when my patients have refused to support me against this tyrant Ralph Klein “. I certainly agreed. Several of our senior friends have lost their doctors and can’t find another one.

  22. Idiots and dunces. We elect them and then marvel at their ability to completely destabilize our province, while demonizing a once in 80 year centre right social democratic alternative. We’re hopeless.

  23. As highly-respected Calgary pollster Janet Brown has often said, Albertans are not really fiscal conservatives — they’re just tax-averse. They want champagne services on a (mass-market brand, not craft) beer budget.

    IMHO one of the reasons for this is the persistent myth of “government waste”, wherein if we can just make governments more “efficient” we’ll find all the money we need to properly fund hospitals and schools without having to raise taxes. But with rare exceptions — Ottawa’s recently revealed ArriveCan scandal is one such — there is very little genuine “waste” left in government spending.

    There are so many rules about expenses and contracting that at times the greatest waste is from the bureaucratic dithering necessitated by those rules in order to get anything done that actually helps people. Again, the best example of this comes out of Ottawa, where the federal government had to completely bypass normal procedures to get CERB cheques out to Canadians quickly enough to be of any use. Had normal processes been followed, we might still be waiting for those cheques.

    The number of bean counters and clipboard carriers of any government bureaucracy that are needed to ride herd on legitimately budgeted spending are stupendous, and the risk-averse nature of the public service means that too many Canadians need to appeal to their Members of Parliament or provincial MLAs to get anything done.

    Not only is this highly inefficient, but it is also a barrier to electoral reform, since Canadians are so dependent on that one-to-one relationship with their elected representatives and their “super-ombudsperson” role.

    The other kind of government “waste” is spending on government programmes the complainer doesn’t agree with. Foreign aid is a classic example often raised at the federal level, but there are numerous parallels at the provincial level. But that’s not truly “waste”, that’s just democracy.

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