Good morning, Alberta! It’s March 2024, and we’re still on the royalty roller coaster!

Premier Danielle Smith congratulates her finance minister in the Legislature yesterday (Photo: Legislative Assembly of Alberta/Flickr).

It feels as if we’re easing back into the bust portion of the formula, and it’s still no fun. 

Well, it’s not as if we all didn’t know this was going to happen again, even if Finance Minister Nate Horner’s Leap Year Budget Speech yesterday hadn’t just made it perfectly clear.

We all understand that a $2-billion payment to Peter Lougheed’s famously all-but-drained Heritage Savings and Trust Fund isn’t going to get us off the scary Boom-&-Bust-o-Later ride we’ve been stuck on as long as anyone can remember. 

Anyway, it’s not as if Premier Danielle Smith’s United Conservative Party Government is going to keep its promise to continue feeding a few pennies into the Heritage Fund every year any more than it kept its pre-election vow to cut taxes by creating a new 8-per-cent bracket for folks earning less than $60,000 and $760 in tax cuts each for everyone else. 

“After all, it’s your money,” Premier Smith enthused in a news release about the “permanent, billion dollar tax cut” back on May 1 last year. “You earned it, not the government.”

Peter Lougheed, Alberta premier from 1971 to 1985 (Photo: Historica Canada via the Canadian Encyclopedia).

But that was then and this is now. The election’s over, the UCP won, and it turned out the government needed the cash after all to hide the fact that Alberta’s back in deficit despite having $17.3 billion in fossil gas and bitumen royalties in hand.

Even the UCP’s new “implementation schedule is contingent on the province maintaining sufficient fiscal capacity to introduce the tax cut while maintaining a balanced budget,” Mr. Horner’s budget document cautioned. Ha-ha! – contingent. 

So you’re outta luck, folks. Maybe later. Maybe not even then. 

Not that cutting taxes in Alberta is going to fix what ails the place. In fact, it would probably have had the contrary effect. But, as they say, it’s not the lousy 760 bucks, it’s the principle of the thing!

This budgetary sleight of hand has allowed the government to forecast an “accounting surplus” for the fiscal year – a meaningless $367 million, which inevitably will be described as “razor thin” by journalists and commentators. 

It is meaningless because of its relative size compared to the $73.2-billion the government says it expects to spend this year, rising to $76.2 billion by 2026-27. 

Of course, this too is mostly fiction, likely to be blown away by the cost of fighting forest fires, compensating farmers for drought, keeping front-line health care workers on the job, and the always possible 1-per-cent (or larger) downward adjustment in the estimated price fetched by Alberta’s heavy oil, the dirty basket in which all our eggs continue to be placed. 

As The Canadian Press explained in its budget coverage, “the $2 billion the government has reserved for contingencies such as drought and wildfire is about a third less than what was spent last year on those disasters.” And everyone understands that between the drought and the global climate change that is causing it, this summer is likely to be worse. 

So, in effect, bogus assumptions notwithstanding, we are in deficit already. 

Avoiding deficits at all costs, it must be noted, is highly overrated, and may even be bad for the economy. But since we have made it an article of religious faith here in our landlocked Wild Rose cargo cult, we have to live with that too. 

Edmonton-Highlands-Norwood’s Janis Irwin, one MLA who cares about the plight of the homeless (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Well, we can be confident at least that the government won’t be spending much trying to solve the homelessness crisis gripping Alberta – which is arguably the most serious human rights, security and public safety emergency Alberta faces. The UCP isn’t interested in that, and neither is the media. (That one’s for you, Janis Irwin!)

Pointless fights with Ottawa cost money too. 

Likewise, while the government is prepared to spend enough to keep our health care and education systems on life support, and to brag about it as if it were a virtue, that’s about all this budget does for those files. 

As the NDP pointed out in its response, Mr. Horner’s budget includes no plan to build the public hospitals Albertans need, especially the ones in South Edmonton, Airdrie, and Lethbridge. 

“The budget conservatively estimates population growth and inflation will be a combined 6.2 per cent but spending is stalled at 3.9 per cent,” the Opposition party said in a news release. “The result is Albertans will not receive the basic services they need in health and education.”

Alberta Teachers Association President Jason Schilling (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Alberta Teachers Association President Jason Schilling says classes remain so understaffed and overcrowded that the province needs to hire 5,000 more teachers. 

The UCP, meanwhile, is prepared to spend another $70 million this year alone on Premier Smith’s vanity restructuring of Alberta Health Services, which seems principally intended to satisfy the UCP base that revenge is being exacted on managers for vaccine mandates during the pandemic. And it’s pumping money into unwelcoming private and religious schools.

This allows Ms. Smith and her ideologues to set the stage for more privatization, of course, which suits them just fine. 

You can pick up the details spun the government’s way in its news release and a little more cautiously in various news reports. 

Personally, I’m bitter about the UCP’s new tax on electric vehicles, which risibly is supposed to compensate for the damage to Alberta’s potholed roads done by the weight of their batteries. It may only be $200 a year, which any Tesla owner should be able to afford, but it just blew one of’s best April Fool’s gags ever to smithereens!

I’m sorry, Alberta, but after a run longer than The Phantom of the Opera, the only thing that will bring this gong show to an end is a sales tax.

To borrow Mr. Horner’s metaphor, we demand champagne services and insist on a beer budget, and not craft beer either. This has given us two political parties justifiably frightened of adopting the only answer to the royalty roller coaster that will work to end Alberta’s wild ride. 

Brian Mulroney, dead at 84

Supporters and opponents of Brian Mulroney, the consequential Conservative prime minister who led Canada from 1984 to 1994 and died yesterday in Florida at 84, were arguing, mostly politely, last night about his record.

Brian Mulroney (Photo: Yousuf Karsh).

Certainly, Mr. Mulroney looks a little better now than he did when he left office in 1993, deeply unpopular with Canadians, although not necessarily for his worst policies. 

He was certainly more progressive on a few issues – human rights in South Africa and the environment, to give two examples – than Conservatives, so called, are today. He was undoubtedly crooked. But as to whether his net contribution bent toward progress or the opposite, as Zhou Enlai is supposed to have said of the French Revolution, it’s too soon to tell

I’m afraid I lean toward the negative. As Edmonton’s inimitable Mimi Williams observed on social media yesterday after the news of Mr. Mulroney’s death broke, having been asked not long ago about when everything started to go to hell in a handbasket, “I responded that we in Canada got sucked into neo-liberalism by the unholy triumvirate of Thatcher, Reagan, and Mulroney.”

That sums it up succinctly and accurately. 

Join the Conversation


  1. So, is it just me or does that first pic look like it’s just begging for a meme
    ” Little Jack Horner, sat in his corner….”

  2. What do you expect when phony Conservatives and Reformers cheat us out of our oil and tax wealth that Peter Lougheed gave us, which loses us hundreds of billions of dollars, do the most priciest shenanigans, which cost us a lot of money too, and line their rich friends pockets? Danielle Smith is just like her hero, Ralph Klein. Says anything to get elected, and people fall for it. Much like Ralph Klein did, I would expect the UCP to do more stupid cuts to the public education system, to the public healthcare system, to social programs, to seniors, to infrastructure, and to environmental protection. Costs of utilities, insurance, and tuition will continue to rise. More people will suffer due to an improperly maintained public healthcare system. Somehow, Danielle Smith believes that she can create a $250 billion Heritage Savings Trust Fund, and Alberta could be like Norway. The governments of Norway and Alaska weren’t foolish like the government of Alberta was, when Ralph Klein destroyed what Peter Lougheed created, and now Danielle Smith and the UCP are finishing what he started. Where’s the sense in that?

    1. Anonymous, I think it’s even worse than you say. “Improperly maintained” is how the Old Tories treated hospitals and health care. Smith is deliberately damaging health care; whether because of personal hatred (rumour is, Smith is scared of needles) or political prejudice (“everybody knows” businesses do things better than governments*).

      Smith’s BS budget borrows money to “invest” in the Heritage Trust Fund. For you and me, for a business, this would be called “leveraged investing.” It can work—I borrowed against my paid-off house years ago to invest—but you have to be careful that the cost of borrowing is lower than the return on investment. I strongly, strongly doubt Smith even bothered to consider this.

      Nope, this is magic tricks to confuse the peons and convince them Smith has their back. (In the sense she’s gonna take the skin off it, yes, that’s true.) Smith’s end goal is to privatize health care as much as possible, as fast as possible. In this, she hasn’t changed. The game plan is “break it, then sell it”—classic Republican tactics. Fixing health care will cost at least double Smith’s already expensive damage.

      Now, the heritage fund: borrowing $2 billion so you can say you have a $0.4 billion surplus? This takes Ronald Reagan’s voodoo economics to a new low. Danielle has a degree in Economics, courtesy of the Alberta School’s Tom Flanagan. I wonder how he feels about his prize pupil’s performance, now.

      *This is true—but only when the government is Republican.

      1. Mike J Danysh: I saw Danielle Smith’s public address on the budget. It was so full of contradicting statements and holes. She was prasing Ernest Manning, Peter Lougheed and Ralph Klein for what they did for Alberta, with our oil industry development. Only one of those three premiers was responsible with it, and that was Peter Lougheed, who used to be employed in the oil industry, during the 1950s, in Oklahoma. Peter Lougheed had the sense to understand the volatile nature of oil, as a commodity. Danielle Smith is assuming that she can fatten up the Heritage Savings Trust Fund to $250 billion, or even more. It’s too late for that. What services will she make cuts to, knowing that her financial aspirations are not attainable?

  3. If this budget doesn’t do it, surely enticing more people to move to Alberta with cash incentives will accomplish the UCP’s goal of overburdening education and health services until they collapse.
    What a coincidence that the national pharmacare program stole centre stage on Alberta budget day. Don’t tell the newly-bribed arrivals that they won’t be getting it, nor the Canada Pension Plan.

    Who can forget Brian Mulroney with the brown paper bags full of cash from Karlheinz Schreiber? Times change. Nowadays, digital money transfers take care of that, and paper bags are 15 cents.

    1. What’s frightening after hearing a rotten budget like this, and the new tax on EV’s and the elimination of renewables from Alberta’s future and everything else, is remembering that somewhere on one of her videos about trying to rip off the CPP, one of her comments was “just think what we can do with that”. Albertans, Albertans, what have you done? And to think, she still has a raft of followers that think she’s doing a good job! Is there something in the water?

  4. Funny how when the UCP first got elected as the dominant party forming government, they immediately cut the corporate tax rate. There was no let’s review the budget, or we need to carefully gauge revenue, it was immediate! Now the broken promise of tax relief for those that can least afford things, have to wait and this must be carefully reviewed. Outrageous!

  5. Regarding the death of the Paper Bag Prime Minister, everyone should go out and buy Stevie Cameron’s book about the greed and corruption of the Mulroney years, “On The Take”.

  6. Alberta’s economy, similar to that of Canada, is growing more slowly than its population. Per capita GDP in fact has been stagnant to falling since 2015. Less wealth means less to spend on public services.

    Debt has also been growing as interest rates rise. Increased debt servicing also means less to spend on public services.

    The author seems unconcerned about stagnant economic growth and rising debt. Perhaps he is religious and believes that something can be created from nothing

    1. Doug there isn’t a corporation in the world that doesn’t borrow money (incur debt) in order to grow, the idea that governments should do it, especially when they have a reserve currency they alone can print, isn’t just magical thinking, it’s literally just complete ignorance about how business works, how wealth is created, and how governments pay for services and build capital projects.

      Many folks have credit cards, imagine if we forced all those folks to live within the means of their weekly income, rather than the micro lending that capital affords them a week to week cushion !? Think it’s rather likely we’d see more folks on the street, just like this ridiculous insistence on balanced budgets has hollowed out our society in every way, from spiking food prices, to stagnant wages, the housing crisis, the healthcare crisis, the infrastructure deficit, and I would say a good deal of the very fabric of our society as folks are encouraged to turn on each other for the scraps that remain.

      If it were me, and I was concerned about the growth of Alberta’s economy, I would be reserving my criticism for the government that has been in power since Jason Kenneys UCP took over the legislature.

      1. Completely wrong. It has never been possible to create something from nothing and never will be. Maybe you should join TBA as David Parker likely shares these creationist ideas.

        Expanding the monetary base at a rate faster than the productive capacity only creates inflation. The US Fed can get away with monetary expansion to a greater extent as it can export much of that inflation to the rest of the world. That creates other problems that will eventually lead to the rise of other reserve currencies or cripples the purchasing power of consumers of American goods and services.

        Debt only transfers future consumption to the present. Every dollar borrowed to fund current public services robs at least a dollar from future public services. The fact that some people feel entitled to debt funded services is disgusting. It subverts democracy by failing to present real priotizarion options to the electorate. Claiming that balanced budgets will exact a human toll is a feble attempt to elicit emotion over reason.

        The debt has to be serviced no matter what. If a central bank tries to print its way out of debt, interest rates and inflation increase. It becomes increasingly difficult to get off the treadmill.

        Government debt is only ok when it is spent on capital instead of consumption.

        1. Doug: You said “It has never been possible to create something from nothing and never will be.” When humans first started being hunter/gathers, we had nothing beyond sticks and skins. Yet somehow we did create something from that nothing, moving through the stone age, to the bronze and iron ages – over all those millennia creating civilization from essentially nothing but taxes, labour organization, and cooperation. Now that we understand how to generate, store, and use electricity from renewable sources, we will continue to do so for millennia to come.

        2. if that were true, we wouldn’t have inflation now, the debt to gdp ratio of most western nations is at the lowest point it’s maybe ever been in the modern era, even post pandemic (!?!) and we still have rising inflation. Even through the peak of the pandemic debt to gdp spending in the west never went meaningfully north of 30 percent. Fwiw in WW2 it was over 100 percent and the period that followed was the most profitable in history for the working class; the fabled 50s of the “American dream”

          Inflation is caused when those who control
          The price of commodities and services decide to charge more for them, there is not a direct correlation to cost. For example we see the price that farmers and ranchers receive for the products they produce (but do not control the price of) has remained relatively static while the price of food has skyrocketed. This has nothing to do with whether or not alberta borrows money to build a hospital.

          In fact, when governments borrow it allows them to expand the economy. Capital
          Projects equal real, valuable, jobs that contribute to the economy, the tax income of the province, and society in general. Capital investments remain assets of the province, it’s not giveaway spending like the money alberta spends on govt contracts with outside businesses, like the recent Tylenot scandal for example.

          A great example of this comes to us from the Trudeau Sr administration. Alberta as many of you know, has a great deal of oil. What it did not have, previous to them being built under the Trudeau Sr admin was pipelines to provide market access. The Trudeau government at the time was at the time running deficits but these pipelines have brought untold billions of revenue to Alberta and the federal government since then. Not only that but the reactionary austerity measures brought in under Mulroney lead to a prolonged recession.

          Austerity, for the record does exactly this. It in fact shrinks the economy overall, reduces the economic output of the society, sheds jobs, loses tax income
          And shreds the fabric of society, all while having the very intended effect of shrinking government overall and hamstringing it’s ability to provide the level
          Of services that it did before austerity.

          SEE SASKATCHEWAN. See Chile after the Chicago boys, see every single time Milton Friedman tried to “save” an economy. Neoliberal economics works extremely well in one way, the vacuuming up the entirety of a societies wealth by their elite. The fact that we now have income inequality greater than the gilded age should be an indicator of that for most astute observers. In fact there isn’t an example one can point to to a nation being better off post austerity than they would have been with stimulus spending.

          As far as creating “something from
          Nothing” that’s literally what the national bank of a nation with reserved currency does. Money itself is an abstraction whos value is based on the projected value of an economy, its prospect of future growth, and its assets and liabilities. The value of
          The currency therefore is less connected to how much of it there is (how much the government borrowed) than what it is underwritten by, the GDP current and projected future, based on the wealth of its assets and relative strength of its economy. It therefore makes little sense to shrink the overall capacity of one’s economy to some sort of nebulous cause of balanced budgets which have not been with us for all that long.

          Now getting back to when governments borrow. Capital projects do not magically disappear, infrastructure deficits, healthcare, housing deficits, these are real monetary deficits. Not having these things costs our society in untold ways, for example, negligent highway infrastructure that is unsafe, leading to a semi truck missing a stop sign and killing nearly an entire junior hockey team.

          Capital projects do not get cheaper the longer you dither either, for example the Edmonton south hospital is still needed, pushing it off the books until some nebulous future will only cost more in the long run. In the mean time the net economic benefit the community would see is also dithered into the future; when not only capital costs will be higher but so will the population, in which case we may need two hospitals by that time
          Instead of one.

          Also not for nothing this conversation usually skips an aspect I refuse to; labour. Labour is actually what creates something out of nothing. Labour creates all the value of an economy. Without labour to harvest them natural resources are just rocks and trees. The wealth of our society belongs to those who create it, not the banks, and certainly not the capitalists. We should have a larger say in how that wealth is spent. The goal of austerity isn’t balanced budgets, it’s seizing control of
          The economy (and bleeding it white).

          Finally, if you don’t believe me, here’s Paul Krugman on Austerity.

          “Meanwhile, all of the economic research that allegedly supported the austerity push has been discredited. Widely touted statistical results were, it turned out, based on highly dubious assumptions and procedures – plus a few outright mistakes – and evaporated under closer scrutiny.
          It is rare, in the history of economic thought, for debates to get resolved this decisively. The austerian ideology that dominated elite discourse five years ago has collapsed, to the point where hardly anyone still believes it. “

          “So it was in 2008-2009. By late 2008 it was already clear in every major economy that conventional monetary policy, which involves pushing down the interest rate on short-term government debt, was going to be insufficient to fight the financial downdraft. Now what? The textbook answer was and is fiscal expansion: increase government spending both to create jobs directly and to put money in consumers’ pockets; cut taxes to put more money in those pockets.
          But won’t this lead to budget deficits? Yes, and that’s actually a good thing. An economy that is depressed even with zero interest rates is, in effect, an economy in which the public is trying to save more than businesses are willing to invest. In such an economy the government does everyone a service by running deficits and giving frustrated savers a chance to put their money to work. Nor does this borrowing compete with private investment. An economy where interest rates cannot go any lower is an economy awash in desired saving with no place to go, and deficit spending that expands the economy is, if anything, likely to lead to higher private investment than would otherwise materialise.
          It’s true that you can’t run big budget deficits for ever (although you can do it for a long time), because at some point interest payments start to swallow too large a share of the budget. But it’s foolish and destructive to worry about deficits when borrowing is very cheap and the funds you borrow would otherwise go to waste.”

          As John Maynard Keynes wrote in 1937: “The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity at the Treasury.”

  7. This budget, with the UCP somewhat succesfully managing expectations ahead of it for the last several weeks, was really an austerity budget presented as something modestly better. Yes, not coincidentally, keeping with where oil prices are at now, last years boom is over and we are edging up to the cliff edge of a possible future bust.

    The UCP papered over it for now, but the boom bust cycle is alive and well in Alberta. Depending how oil prices go, next year may be the real thing, not just austerity light with per capita spending reductions. So the next budget may have no transfers to the Heritage Fund, no modest surplus and that promised tax cut shelved indefinitely. In other words, back to the bad old days of Kenney’s first few years. As Smith likey knows full well, that did hit the UCPs popularity hard. She also probably realizes despite her glib happy talk that she will not be able to built up a several hundred billion dollar heritage fund fast enough to avoid or cushion the roller coaster going down in the next few years.

    Oh well, that will probably end up not really being her problem. If things get too bumpy, conservatives mat get rid of her faster than you can say Alison Redford.

    I do think history will end up being much kinder to Mulroney than contemporary coverage was. He cared greatly about getting good reviews so pretty much spent the last 30 years working tirelessly to improve them. By now we have gotten used to the GST and politicians have found another tax to axe, not coincidentally one that won’t cost the Federal treasury much. As always, convenient misdirection lives on in politics, but it only works in the short term.

  8. “So you’re outta luck, folks. Maybe later. Maybe not even then.”

    Election cycle timing and the clumsy application of vote buying dictates that the “tricks” (“belt tightening”) are implemented at the beginning of the mandate, while; the “treats”, or rewards are reserved for the the next election cycle, when they will be most effective at bribing dull minded rubes. Works every time in Alberta, that is why it is standard operating procedure, along with the calculated deceptions and dishonesty.

  9. But hey, $80M for faux Tylenol that went to waste due to its potential for fatalities in babies, privatizing then de-privatizing Dynalife for $31M, Dubai, a hockey arena for a billionaire, $85M to restructure AHS, more money for private schools while public schools get less. Turning something (public money) into nothing (for the public) is the UCP motto.

  10. Danielle Smith has a university degree in Economics. Is this how she uses what Tom Flanagan taught her? He must be so proud.

    1. So did harper, and look at the ‘surplus’ he created.

      The Clagary School has much to answer for, but like Smith they will be long gone when the rest of us have to pay the piper.

      1. They used to love saying Papa Steve was an economist. He wasn’t. Having a degree in economics is not the same as being an economist, one must publish to be an economist. DS isn’t either, and for most part a modern Econ degree is just a severe brainwashing in capitalist theocracy

    2. Actually her degree from U of C is a BA in International Relations. It’s one of those weird degrees who get just so you can say you’ve graduated from the U of C.

      On a side note, Skippy Pollivere did finally get his degree in Itl. Relations, after dropping out for a time. Not unlike Harper, who got his M. in Econ after 16 years, while he was director of the National Citizens Coalition, located on the U of C campus.

      Oh, the webs these people weave.

      1. Interesting, JM. Here’s a direct quote, plus the source, from Smith’s Wikipedia page:
        “Smith attended the University of Calgary and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1993 and economics in 1995.” Dawson, Tyler (April 27, 2023). “The comeback queens: Rachel Notley vs Danielle Smith in the battle for Alberta”. National Post. Retrieved April 27, 2023.

        The Wiki article mentions nothing about “International Relations” degrees. The web page is here:

    3. Mike J Danysh: Peter Lougheed was one of Danielle Smith’s professors at university. What he taught her obviously went in one ear and came out the other.

  11. Oh, an aside about that EV tax: it’s based on a bullshit assumption.

    Yes, batteries make EVs heavier than the same vehicle with a fossil-fuel powertrain. But weight alone doesn’t damage roads. Tire pressure is the important thing.

    Think of it this way: your tires are balloons! If you have one, blow up a birthday-party balloon and tie it shut. Put it on the table, hold a smallish book so it’s pressing on the balloon, and look at the size of the contact patch—the part of the balloon actually touching the table. Tiny, right? Now press down on the book with your hand. The contact patch gets bigger as the balloon flattens.

    But—and this is the critical part—the air pressure inside the balloon hasn’t changed! There’s the same amount of air inside, it’s just supporting more weight. Hence, the contact patch expands.

    See how this works? Whether a tire is lightly loaded or heavily loaded, the pressure on the ground (lb/square inch) is EXACLTY EQUAL to the inflation pressure of the tire! Putting more weight in the vehicle—whether it’s batteries, groceries or you—presses more rubber onto the road.

    This is why blaming EVs for road damage is both wrong and unfair. (Similarly, blaming EV owners for not paying gasoline taxes is both stupid, unfair and easily fixed. Scrap the gasoline tax and replace it with a wealth tax! After all, everybody says EVs are only for those who can afford them.)

    Wanna know why roads get so rutted? Heavy vehicles. But not because they’re heavy, because they use high tire pressures for low rolling resistance! I heard somewhere that semis have EXTREMELY high-pressure tires, 100 psi. Somebody check that. How about buses, dump trucks, cube vans (maybe not these)? Heck, even BICYCLES use high pressure tires!

    So, is Danielle Smith gonna introduce a “pressure tax” on high-pressure tires to pay for road repairs? It is to laugh….

    1. Mike: Ms. Smith’s EV tax is a gesture to her base (which hates EVs along with everything else except Donald Trump). I’m pretty sure everyone in Alberta understands this. Obviously, following the logic of the announcement, there should be a weight tax on vehicles. I like your suggestion of a pressure tax on tires, too, which can be applied to bicycles after the Smith Government bans bike lanes. There can be spot checks by the new Alberta Provincial Pressure Police (AP3). DJC

      1. LOL yeah that’s it. Tire pressure police! The fines for over- and under-pressure offences would eliminate the need for sales tax, income tax, wealth tax, property tax, carbon tax–just name it!

        Oh wait…we might need a hot-air or maybe bloviator tax (sorry friends, it’s just how it is these days). Maybe we could get Danielle Smith and some of her more vocal supporters (initials like DP and WBW come to mind) to either pay up–or stand in front of wind turbines.

      2. Excellent idea. Surely a factor must be included for mileage driven by EV vs ICE vehicles. I am sure ICE vehicles are driven more and do more damage. All those pick ups Dodge Rams and Ford F150’s? Alberta, such a loony place.

      3. LOL— AP-3 has a nice ring to it, but I have a question. What kind of “transportation” would THEY be using ? I remember when someone, I’m guessing city council (?) in Edmonton got the city police off the Harleys and on to the sewing machine, sorry, little Kawasakis (?) and the poor guys got laughed off the roads.
        I’m guilty of being one of those laughing, but given that my father had an old police Harley at the time…..meh! But we did honestly feel sorry for them, how embarrassing!
        So, even though apropos, it couldn’t be an E-Bike, and a Harley would be a bit of an overkill, so what’s left?

        Oh no!!! now I have that stupid jingle “kars for kids” looping….

  12. Now that Mulroney is dead maybe we can put to bed the idea that sales taxes are a replacement for actual taxes, on the wealthy, on capital, and on business. After all, it was Mulroney that killed the NEP (unpopular in alberta but probably the best option to keep us OFF the roller coaster that has been presented to date), introduced the GST and brought us into this neoliberal hell we call home. Also, that whole thing with helicopters, WHAT A STATESMAN.

    1. Actually it was Chretian that cancelled the Cormorant helicopters for navy, but then had to get them for Search and Rescue. We would have been much better off if we had purchased them, and not got involved in the “anything-but-the-Cormorant” nonsense that led to the Cyclone.

      One of the things Mulroney did right, but his wrongs (especially Free Trade) far outweigh any good there was in the man, IMO.

  13. Regarding the passing of Brian Mulroney, conceivably the most hated PM of all time, I always find in amazing how everyone can find some warming platitudes for a person who was so universally vilified, that he nearly caused the country to disintegrate. And all for the sake of his enormous thin-skinned ego. It’s no small feat to have one’s governing party smashed at the polls and reduced to a mere two seats. The coalition Mulroney built, a weird meshing of Crazy Western CONs, Ontario Red Tories, and Quebec nationalistes, assured back-to-back majority governments, before being blasted from the face of the earth by Jean Chretien’s Liberals. In the end, I’m not sure Mulroney deserves all those accolades. Of course, NAFTA and taking a different tack on South Africa’s apartheid regime may have earned him some credit, but it’s all really thin gruel from there on. I am still amazed by his overly dramatic gesture, during a speech somewhere in Quebec, where he denounced the opposition to the Charlottetown Accord by tearing up a prop sheet of paper. In doing so, Mulroney declared there was no going back and everyone who pay for this. And hour later, Mulroney, shocked by the backlash, likely made the only apology he ever made, when he caused the outcry against his raging egotism.

    I am reminded of a CBC interview with a person-in-the-street where one person’s refreshing viewpoint on the passing of Robert Bourassa. When this person was asked about the passing of the “great man, Bourassa…” the person went off gloriously.

    “Why should we kind well of him? What did he ever do but cause hardship? That bastard is dead and we should all be happy for it…” Wiser words were never said.

    1. Well, Mulroney was supposed to be pro-environment, and probably did less actual damage than other PMs. Can’t think of any examples, but I suppose one will come to me. Eventually.

  14. For those who ‘study’ and use current neoliberal economic arts: “It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more than in that proportion.” This is not from Karl Marx, nor any of his followers, but from Adam Smith, “the father of Capitalism”!
    If, as is often touted by Conservatives of various stripes, we need to go back to the good old days of the 1950’s and 60’s, they should also observe that the tax rates for higher income people then went from 70% to 92%.

  15. I look back at Mulroney more charitably than you and some commenters. The 1990 Green Plan and commitments at the 1992 Rio Earth Summit included Canada’s first serious initiatives to address climate change and loss of biological diversity. Some endured, though many withered over the following decades for lack of funds and under concerted attack from fossil industries. Around 2006, a survey of environmentalists chose him as “Canada’s greenest prime minister” — a label Justin Trudeau would like now, though his initiatives too are mostly words with inadequate follow-through. One solid achievement of the Mulroney government was action to reduce acid rain.

    Nobody likes taxes, but the federal government and most provinces would be a lot worse off today without the GST and HST (hear that, Alberta?); NAFTA had flaws, but it wasn’t apocalyptic; same for oil and gas deregulation. The National Energy Program was already dying on a scrap heap of faulty assumptions by the time Mulroney took office. He spent a lot of political capital trying to accommodate Quebec in Confederation.

    It’s hard to say if the scandals and corruption were any worse than those of governments before and after. Mulroney did help end apartheid in South Africa, and he was a bit player in the demise of the Soviet Union. I never voted for him or his party, except maybe once for Joe Clark running against a Reformer in Calgary, but I am not prepared to join in the derision that seems fashionable these days, especially from pseudonymous contributors to comment boards. I’d certainly take his brand of Toryism over anything peddled by those claiming the “conservative” label today. Lighten up and remember the soothing Blarney for a few minutes. “He could sing” might be a good epitaph.

  16. David: I was with you all the way until you claimed a sales tax is “the only” way to fix Alberta’s budget woes. You did not say “the best way” – which is not necessarily true, nor did you say “among many other ways” – which is also true. Both of which would open to door to some rational questions about public policies and taxation and whether deficits are intrinsically a bad idea.

    Why play into the Thatcher/Regan/’on-the-take-Mulroney’ narrative of “There is no alternative”? For rational humans discussing public policy there are always alternatives. Or, were you just being mischievous?

    1. Kang: I’m always being mischievous. But your point is fair. Let us say, though, that some form of sales tax, including value-added taxes like Mr. Mulroney’s GST, must surely be the only solution to our roller-coaster problem that could be implemented in a timely fashion without a lot of paperwork for most of us. DJC

  17. Well the Free Trade benefited those that had money and the South Africa pointing fingers while still operating Residential Schools is just hypocrisy. But I guess this is just what happens when someone dies. They are all such wonderful people once they are dead. Even serial killers get TV time when they die and the usual oh he was such a quiet and friendly person. Tell that to the families he killed.

  18. Mulroney is all you say, I think fairly. But after two terms of Poilievre, we will long for his resurrection. Nay, the living will envy the dead.

  19. On the matter of the budget, it looks like Queen Danielle has decided to fail to deliver … again. We’ll have to see if her base is patient with her, but she appears to have handed a ton of ammo to David Parker. I can see him screaming at the top of his lungs, “SHE LIED TO US!!!!!”

    It’s one thing to not deliver on the promise of insane tax reform, quite another to introduce taxes without a referendum. I believe that’s what Smith was hollering about during the election…that there will not longer be taxation without representation and a vote. Well, if anyone really believed that one … never mind … they’re all idiots.

    However, to skirt the referendum promise, the UCP has found a giant loophole…just apply discriminatory taxes against targeted groups who the UCP already attacks. Thus, EV owners will pay a weird tax for … reasons. This maybe a move to drive EVs off Alberta’s roads, and if there are increases in this tax, that maybe the intent. At this point, I can see the UCP using taxation as a means to make certain groups go away. How about a tax on being liberal? Left-wing? A bleeding heart? Not watching Foxnews 24/7 or Tucker Carlson? The road is wide open and I hope Smith decides it’s one worth travelling.

  20. About Mulroney, the CP piece was interesting, many details, no whitewashing. They left out a couple of good things: opposing apartheid and passing environment laws.
    Also left out of obits and even the wiki about him, he has a mixed legacy re Indigenous people: Oka, RCAP, etc.

  21. Who can forget Brian Mulroney with the brown paper bags full of cash from Karlheinz Schreiber? Times change. Nowadays, digital money transfers take care of that, and paper bags are 15 cents.
    And so it goes.
    Here in BC we had Vandersalms Socred / Conservatives doing the same thing with little complaint.
    Yet the media was upset when Glen Clark the premier at the time had help with a $3000 sundeck!
    And so it goes!

    1. Blazer: Funny, wasn’t it, how the TV crews just happened to be on hand when the RCMP raided Mr. Clark’s home. A most amazing coincidence! DJC

  22. Mulroney was a transitional leader, somewhere between traditional progressive, or “red tory”, and a globalizing neoliberal. He slashed public services, crippled unemployment insurance, privatized Crown Corps, made a free trade deal with the USA—all as per neoliberal doctrine. Yet he emphatically defended Canada’s sovereign claim to the increasingly ice-free Arctic Archipelago against the US claim that it is international waters. And he worked (as hard as he was unsuccessful) at mending the Quebec/ROC dichotomy in a sincere effort to strengthen national unity. In at least these senses he was both neoliberal and conservative.

    He revived the ProgCon party with the simplest maxim: in order to win useable power in Canada, Quebec seats in the HoC are absolutely essential. It was with Quebec’s help that his ProgCons won the biggest majority (in absolute terms) in Canadian history—which helped quell the West’s generational resentment of Quebec’s weighty influence in federal politics and relieve the partisan right’s frustration that, since WWI, conservatives won power only occasionally—and usually during bad times while, seemingly unfairly, Liberals always got to govern when times were good. For example, Diefenbaker’s 1957 minority win, just as the post-war boom was waning, ended 22 years of Liberal rule; a snap election won a record landslide (in relative terms) in ‘58—just as cultural orthodoxy was being rocked by Elvis Presley—only to be returned to minority in ‘62, and then lose power altogether in a confidence vote in ‘63. Thence, the Liberals ruled for 21 of the next 22 years. It’s been tough being a conservative for over a century.

    That ProgCon blip was the shortest-lived government in Canadian history: Joe Clark’s minority was toppled in late ‘79 at barely six months old. (I watched the non-confidence vote from my couch in Quebec City, cheering Clark’s defeat; my partner came out of the kitchen to inquire and when I excitedly explained she said, “Joe who?” Neither joke nor coining, she being a unilingual, dyed in the wool Québécois having sincerely never heard of him or his english nickname.) This episode cast the mould of apoplexy that plagues the Canadian partisan right to this very day.

    Because he was from Quebec it took Mulroney years to persuade ProgCon members that he should replace Joe Clark as leader. Winning a second huge majority in ‘88 seemed a hearty endorsement of Mulroney’s “Grand Coalition” which married conservatives from Atlantic Canada, les Bleus from Quebec, Upper Canada Tories and libertarians from the Territories and the West. But cracks began to show when he convened first ministers to amend the Constitution so that hold-out Quebec would sign it. He might just as well have thrown a pail of gasoline onto the Alberta spot-fire of the Reform party. His second attempt, the Charlottetown Accord, was not only rejected at national referendum, it was also way too much for both Quebec and Alberta conservatives, and their erstwhile ProgCons defected, respectively to the Bloc Québécois and Reform party. The two-term Mulroney-behemoth, now led by Canada’s first woman PM, was reduced to just two seats in 1993, the Bloc and Reform thence took turns at Official Opposition, and the Liberals governed for the next four terms.

    Although the ProgCon party recuperated up to 20 seats subsequent to its drubbing and before it was treacherously annexed by Stephen Harper’s CPC in 2003, the real ending of progressive conservatism happened when Mulroney resigned in ‘93. Perhaps only a progressive conservative could have brokered the “Grand Coalition” (certainly the pseudoCon CPC has never achieved anything even close). Mulroney’s ProgCons represented the zenith of conservatism in all of Canadian history—and it passed away 30 years ago.

    Tributes will cite Mulroney’s two huge majorities, free trade, GST, and Bouchard’s betrayal; critics will include cash bribes, patronage, huge deficits, and the most spectacular electoral wipeout in modern democratic history. For me, Mulroney’s legacy is, like his maxim, that without Quebec the partisan right cannot hope to win or hold power very long. Québécois haven’t forgotten the bigoted hyperbole Reformers rode into Ottawa on, and few will vote for any party associated with Reform’s bastard, the CPC.

    In this perverse way Mulroney helped Canada by holding the usurped conservative party to just one, single, four-year majority in the last 31 years. Including 2015, the year its first and last term was ended, the CPC has had five leaders. We might thank Mulroney for that, too.

    Many will quote Mulroney’s “You had an option, sir!” But I will remember most: “There’s no whore like and old whore.”

    Wherever you are now, Brian, you tell ‘em that.

  23. David the Photographer. You rock ’em and sock ’em yet they stand there, look in the camera and let you snap their picture. Does your karate scare them into submission?

  24. Want to know where Alberta is heading? Just look at what the GOP did to Kansas about 2010. Created a neo-liberal hell scape that citizens and businesses were leaving. Who wants to invest in a state (or province) that doesn’t have government services (education? health care? infrastructure? to name a few).
    Remember that the neo-liberal hero Ayn Rand ended up on welfare. Ironic.

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