Budget ’23: The Same Old Razzle Dazzle (with sprinkles on top)*

I’m not sure what Trevor Tombe did that caused Danielle Smith to say he was becoming one of her favourite economists, but it certainly wasn’t this.

In a recent article about Budget 2023 Tombe said the budget moved Alberta into a “new fiscal reality where we are more reliant on resource revenues and more exposed to risks.”

More reliant on roller coaster resource revenues, more exposed to risks?

Not exactly a selling point for UCP politicians heading into the May election.

But then again, this is Danielle Smith’s pre-election budget, it’s got a little bit of this and a little bit of that to convince Albertans that she and the UCP deserve another four years in government.

Give ‘em the old hocus pocus*

Let’s look at what Finance Minister Toews said when he rolled out the budget on Feb 28:**

“Budget ’23 is about the future.”

No, it’s not. It’s mired in the past. It sticks with the non renewable revenue model we’ve had for decades and puts a paltry $1.8 billion (one-fifth of the amount Peter Lougheed would have set aside) in the Heritage Trust Fund.

If this is our future, we’re in big trouble, because every boom is followed by a bust and we still won’t have a rainy day fund to draw on.   

Finance Minister Toews

“It’s about doing more of what has worked these past four years.”

Really? What would that be? The UCP government’s prolonged and nasty attacks on those who provided healthcare and education (the two biggest spend areas in the budget) during the three years of the pandemic?

The UCP government’s sorry record at protecting the environment and First Nations and others from the devastating environmental impact of an under-regulated industry?

How about the cruel cuts to AISH and other social services in order to demonstrate fiscal prudence while at the same time cutting corporate taxes which made it even harder to balance the budget?

Over to you, Mr Toews, razzle dazzle us.    

[It’s about doing] more to champion Alberta’s incredible value proposition around the world.

Ah yes, the champions of Alberta. Our official champion is Invest Alberta, a Crown corporation created by Jason Kenney in 2020. It’s first CEO, David Knight Legg, was a key Kenney advisor. He stepped down after less than a year and was replaced by Rick Christiannse.

Invest Alberta’s work is augmented by the appointment of tried and true champions, generally party hacks, who are given plum posts in places like Washington DC and Houston to boost the province.

Oh and let’s not forget the War Room which is busy championing when it’s not stuffing its foot in its mouth.  

The problem with all this championing is that it’s impossible to measure whether it has any effect…other than providing a way to repay those who’ve been loyal to the party.

So sure, Mr Toews, feel free to do more championing.

[It’s about doing] more to attract investment.

Budget ’23 says Alberta has the lowest corporate tax rates in Canada which in turn  attracts corporations that create jobs.

The budget also lists some small investments like the $15 million going to the Investment and Growth Fund, $5 million in advertising and an Agri-Processing Tax Credit.

That’s it. There’s nothing new or innovative here.  

[It’s about doing] more to ensure Albertans have the services they need.

Sticking with Health, the biggest budget area, the budget sets out many healthcare initiatives, including boosting access to surgeries, reducing wait times, and improving primary health care, yet not one of these initiatives is as well funded as the government’s RStar pilot project ($100 million) which, if implemented, will force Albertans to give $20 billion in royalty credits to oil and gas companies to get them to comply with the law.  

If the promise to ensure Albertans have the services they need is sincere, it should be backed by meaningful dollars. It’s not.

[It’s about doing] more to give a hand up to the vulnerable among us.

Again, using the RStar yardstick, with the exception of giving social sector workers a raise, there is nothing in Budget ’23 that comes close to the RStar $100 million investment, leading us to conclude that this another meaningless commitment to help the vulnerable.   

Bead and feather them*

Budget 2023 is pre-election budget disguised in sequins, beads and feathers. It promised a “new fiscal framework to help deal with Alberta’s unique economic and revenue volatility.”

It does the opposite.  

Trevor Tombe says in the past a $1 change in the price of oil typically meant less than a $200 million increase or decrease to government revenues.

Today a $1 change is worth $630 million up or down.

And by 2025 (just 2 years from now) that $1 change will increase or decrease the government revenues by a whopping $850 million.

To paraphrase Tombe, if you thought the roller coaster was scary in the past, just wait.

Or maybe don’t wait.

In May we’ll have a chance to choose between Smith’s UCP who are ready to throw us on the roller coaster for one last ride or Notley’s NDP who have a vision for a stable less risky future.

I’m tired of the razzle dazzle, aren’t you?

*Apologies to Richard Gere in the musical Chicago

**Alberta Hansard, Feb 28, 2023, p 466

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101 Responses to Budget ’23: The Same Old Razzle Dazzle (with sprinkles on top)*

  1. lindamcfarlane says:

    Thanks Susan.  Excellent 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android

  2. David Harrigan says:

    Wait – people have favorite economists? Kidding. Dr. Tombe is a treasure, not dogmatic or partisan, and able to explain complex issues in a user friendly way.

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      Agreed! So why the heck is Danielle Smith giving him likes?

    • David and Mike J: who knows what prompted Smith to say Dr Tombe was one of her favorites, but I suspect it had a lot to do with the fact their views may have aligned on some topic somewhere. As you said David, Dr Tombe is wonderfully objective and nonpartisan. A real treat nowadays.

  3. Katie Pearlman says:

    Because I am a Broadway nut, I love your references to Chicago, a musical written by (music) John Kander and (lyrics) Fred Ebb. The show opened on Broadway in 1975 and is surely one of the best portrayals of shysters during the jazz age. Richard Gere was great in the movie, Jerry Orbach played the original Billy Flynn in 1975. “Give ‘Em the old Razzle Dazzle” is PERFECT in describing our current UCP. As usual you have written an entertaining and informative piece. It is very scary that this government is relying on non-renewable energy revenue to take us into a future where fossil fuels aren’t part – or are a minimal part- of that future. I made my decision years ago as to who I want to lead our Province. I voted for the NDP before, and I’m voting for them again. Let’s put people in charge who think about us average Albertans and not big corporations with big money. It’s time to put the grown-ups back in charge.

    • Katie, I’m with you 100% of the way. Notley, like Peter Lougheed, has a pragmatic approach to Alberta’s future, which for me hits the right balance when it comes to taking care of the social as well as the economic side of governing.

  4. Serge Dupuis says:

    meanwhile Norway has $1.3Trillion in their heritage/sovereign fund

    • GoinFawr says:

      yep, But UCP’ers will all tell you how ‘unfree’ Norges supposedly are, even though their tax rate is actually comparable to Canada’s.

      Yet this national surplus leaves Norwegian population effectively FREE from having their politics coerced by international finance, because we all know who ultimately calls the shots in the debtor/creditor relationship.

      • GoinFawr: your comment about ‘unfree’ Norway reminded me of Carlson Tucker’s call to free Canada from the dictator Trudeau. You’ve got to wonder what these people are smoking.

    • Serge and GoinFawr: it’s enough to make you weep.
      Trevor Tombe points out that Quebec’s Generations Fund, which was established in 2006 (30 years later than Alberta’s Heritage) will be larger than our fund this year and will “far surpass” it soon.
      And these guys want to manage our pensions. Gawd!

  5. jerrymacgp says:

    Sadly, I am pessimistic that Alberta’s electorate will see through this scam of a budget and vote the UCP out. They’ll see the pre-election goodies, and blindly vote UCP again. The next election is going to be nail-biter, but I fear the New Democrats will increase their seat count but not enough to overturn a slim UCP majority.

    The NDP’s mission has always been a steep uphill climb. While they have a virtual lock on most if not all of the seats in Edmonton, the UCP has a similar lock on most if not all of the seats in what U of A political science professor Jared Wesley has called “Otherland”: the constituencies in the smaller cities of Red Deer, Lethbridge, Grande Prairie, Medicine Hat and Fort McMurray, plus those in rural Alberta. So, Calgary is the battleground.

    Edmonton has 20 seats. “Otherland” has 41, and Calgary has 26. If the UCP sweeps “Otherland”, which is entirely possible, they’re only three seats short of a majority (44). If they lose a couple of “Otherland” seats — one or two Lethbridge seats could go NDP, with the excellent Shannon Phillips being a very strong incumbent there, and Lesser Slave Lake could as well with former MLA Danielle Larivée back on the ballot — that still means the NDP would need to win 22 seats in Calgary to win government. There’s a reason the MLA for Edmonton-Strathcona has been spending so much time in Cowtown.

    • Jerrymacgp: “nail-biter” sums it up nicely. It’s a huge uphill battle for the NDP but I hold out hope (buttressed with concrete support) that they’ll cross the finish line in first place.
      The distribution of seats across Alberta puzzles me. When the electoral commission reviewed the boundaries in 2016/17 it noted that Alberta was “no longer entirely or primarily rural in nature” and a “disproportionate preservation of the rural voice” was no longer acceptable or feasible and yet it did little to remedy the situation, by adding just one more seat in Edmonton, Calgary and Airdrie. I don’t see that changing any time soon. Which is a pity.

      • jerrymacgp says:

        On the subject of riding boundaries, one of my pet peeves — which are legion — is the whole notion of “constituency work”. Very little “constituency work” involves actually talking to constituents to see where they sit on the major issues of the day — just read the memoirs of any former politician if you don’t believe me.

        What it really means is that an MLA or federal MP functions as a sort of super-ombudsman, helping constituents navigate complex government & regulatory bureaucracies to get anything from access to immigration services to applying doe permits for a construction project of some sort. This isn’t really what most people mean when they talk about “representative democracy”, but it is in fact a good portion of a politician’s day-to-day work, and the difficulty rural constituents experience getting access to their MLA or MP is a key driver of the push to make less-populated ridings geographically smaller, even if that lends a rural voter more electoral weight than their urban counterparts. It is also one of the arguments that has been made against proportional representation, since such a system would eliminate this one-to-one relationship between an elected representative and a particular geographic area.

        Of course, we could probably invent a system of government that makes the bureaucracy more accessible and less hidebound, and relieves elected representatives of the need to do “constituency work” at all, but why would anyone want that lol?

      • Jerrymacgp: Now there’s a novel idea, make bureaucracy more accessible and less hidebound so elected representatives can focus on the major issues of the day.
        Years ago when I was still in law school I had a summer job which involved a stint at the Land Titles Office. It was horrendous, checking to ensure applications to file documents were filled out correctly. I was scolded for working too fast (!!) and for going through the entire form to catch all of the mistakes before sending it back to the filer. What you were supposed to do was bounce it at the first mistake, then the filer would fix the mistake and refile it, then you could bounce it again at the second mistake and so on.
        It’s no wonder bureaucrats drive people crazy.

      • Caron says:

        The electoral imbalance did not change because the Ab NDP assumed that the commission was impartial just as they assumed the civil service was impartial. After what amounts to 80 years of a single party state, they were innocent to say the least. As the old aphorism goes: “assumptions make asses of us all”. Or in the case of the AB NDP: chumps.

      • Caron, you’ve touched on something that’s of great interest to me. It’s the idea that progressives tend to believe the best in people, institutions, whatever, while conservatives tend to be more cynical.

        For example, I remember all the rhetoric about how we need to understand what’s motivating the trucker convoy (and the Trump supporters, etc) namely the fear of change, the fear of globalism, off-shoring, misconceptions about immigrants taking their jobs, and so on, and yet when we heard them give their testimony in the Rouleau commission many of them turned out to be wing-nut conspiracy theorists concerned only about themselves with no regard for anyone else..

        Sometimes it’s best to stop making excuses for other people’s bad behavior and, if we think we’re getting shafted we need to do something about it.

  6. Peter Usher says:

    We moved along Smith’s version of the monopoly board, passed ‘go’ but refused to collect our collective $1200 bribe. With optimism, we’re leaving the money in the government coffers for Rachel’s sensible deployment.

    • Kathy says:

      Haha. I am collecting but have donated to my local NDP candidate.

      • Riles says:

        That’s a wonderful idea!

      • Carlos says:

        At the very least it will be a government that believes that vaccines work and that invermectin, a horse de-wormer, it is good to do what it was created for.
        In fact it should help the UCP government to de-worm their infected brains.

    • Peter, Cathy, Riles, there’s been a far bit of discussion among my friends as to what to do about Smith’s $600 bribe: collect it, don’t collect it, use it to donate to the NDP.
      This in itself is interesting, Smith can’t even dole out bribe money without it being controversial.

  7. Ingamarie says:

    My fear is that unless every Albertan who knows the truth of Susan’s latest post, is willing to work/donate/research and talk real policy alternatives………….the parts of this province who mistake razzle dazzle for economic opportunities will put this crew in power for four more years.

    There’s a sense in which we deserve to go for that last roller coaster ride to nowhere…a sense in which we’ve more than earned the coming debaucle, but for the sake of our kids and grandkids, if there ever was a last chance to wake up and smell the bad coffee, this is it.

    We change direction this May……..or we live to see what a petrostate in permanent decline looks and feels like.

    • Ingamarie: agreed. Your second paragraph really resonated with me–the idea that we may have dug this hole for ourselves but we’re tossing our children and grandchildren into it if we vote UCP.
      I’m not sure how to get this message out to the undecided voters (especially here in Calgary). Too many are like my friend who eschews mainstream media (the good as well as the bad) and consequently isn’t in a good position to sort through the malarkey.

      • Ingamarie says:

        Tell your friend to search the Tyee for articles on Alberta…David Climenhaga had a good piece in today’s Tyee regarding the Alberta budget. I too find msm tiring at times, but even the Calgary Herald (Don Braid) appears less then convinced by Smith and her minions.

      • That’s true Ingamarie. And when Braid criticizes Smith and the UCP, their supporters come out en mass and declare he’s a partisan NDP supporter. They’re too thin skinned to accept any criticism whatsoever. Sad.

      • ingamarie says:

        I suspect you know that not being able to hear any criticism is a characteristic of the fascist personality. You are either with us, or you’re against us……..and if you’re against us you are simultaneously, 1. wrong, 2. the enemy, 3. evil.

        There’s a totalitarian aspect to them……..they’re the folks CBC is always telling us are ‘looking for answers’……….and the truth is far less important to them then having someone to hang.

        Black and white, good and evil…us and them. And the pity of it is, underneath the determination to have certainty…they can be fine people. Nazi atrocities weren’t committed by monsters. That’s the scary part of this fringe movement rising in our province.

  8. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Thanks for another great blog. I think this UCP budget is an absolute disaster in the making. It’s like a buffet at a restaurant. Whatever you see may look good, but you might end up paying for it later on, and not in a good way. I’ll play some more fitting music. This is from 1985, and it is Simply Red doing a cover of Money’s Too Tight (To Mention). It was written by John and William Valentine, who are brothers.

    • Thanks Dwayne. I really liked your analogy. The part that gets me is this is Our money. I would prefer a government that spent more on public services like, health, education, social programs and less on corporations that can take care of themselves. Isn’t that how capitalism is supposed to work: companies take the risk and reap the rewards, not we take the risk and companies reap the reward.

  9. Sharon says:

    Trevor Tombe is right on the money and so are you Susan. The very telling thing may be whether Travis Toews decides he won’t run in the upcoming election. This speaks volumes. He can razzle dazzle all he wants but he knows the truth…..

    • Sharon, interesting point. I wondered why Toews hasn’t announced his intentions yet. In any event his riding is about as UCP-conservative as you can get.They just voted to replace the RCMP with their own municipal police force, this despite the fact it will cost more and according to the consultant’s report the public is generally satisfied with the RCMP thus far. Here’s the report: https://pub-cityofgp.escribemeetings.com/filestream.ashx?DocumentId=32635
      The UCP tossed in $9.7 million to help with the transition. That’s $9.7 million that could have been put to better use.

      • jerrymacgp says:

        Minor correction, Susan: Toews’ riding is actually Grande Prairie-Wapiti, which contains a only minor eastern sliver of the City of Grande Prairie, but is mostly made up of the County of Grande Prairie No. 1 and some of the small area towns, like Sexsmith, Beaverlodge, Grovedale, and Wembley. County residents will be keeping the RCMP, at least until and unless there is an Alberta provincial police to take over for them in rural Alberta.

        The vast majority of the City of Grande Prairie comprises the urban constituency of Grande Prairie, whose UCP MLA is the infamous “#AlohaAllard” herself, Tracy Allard, who recently announced she will not be running again due to her health (she disclosed that she has Parkinson Disease).

      • Jerrymacgp: thanks for the clarification. Much appreciated!

    • Dave says:

      I suspect he knows how things will likely go downhill after this supposedly good news budget. I bet there is pressure on him to stay, but if he was smart, and he knows far more about finance and economics than Smith, he would get out of town quietly and quickly.

      Toews seems to have embraced his inner cowboy, so perhaps he is familiar with the old western saying – get going when the going is good.

      • Carlos says:

        ‘Toews seems to have embraced his inner cowboy, so perhaps he is familiar with the old western saying – get going when the going is good.’

        I fully agree and this attitude is what caused everything we are going through and will cause a full collapse sooner or later.

        The problem is that the cowboys never did anything other than making money but like with everything else, it will soon vanish. The good cowboy only cares about himself and so the consequences to their descendent is irrelevant.

        But hey they call themselves financially responsible.

      • Dave and Carlos, the cowboy motif in Alberta mystifies me. The cowboys we used to see on TV were honourable, self-sacrificing men who did the right thing even when it caused them hardship. They stood up to the bad banks that crushed people with onerous interest rates and stole their land and corrupt sheriffs who terrorized the citizenry.
        Today they hop into their semi-trailers and roll down to Ottawa to harass the locals and demand the federal government bend to their will because they’re anti-vaxx and the most discriminated group on the planet.
        These guys (and gals) are anything but cowboys in my humble opinion.

  10. Linda says:

    Another excellent column pointing out the actual reality of this budget as opposed to the feather/bead/sequin flash intended to lull the public into believing the UCP has their best interests in mind. They don’t. I’ll add that the Heritage Fund was roughly $13 billion when I first arrived in Alberta in 1981 – 42 years ago. It is roughly $15 billion today, so I’d say fiscal mismanagement on a large scale there. Even if it were only invested in bonds paying less than 3 percent interest that fund should be many more billions than it is now. And given that the NDP only were in power for 4 years over that 42 I would lay the blame for said mismanagement squarely at the feet of those ‘CON’servative parties. Can’t say they are hiding with the word ‘CON’ as part of the name, no? The UCP being ‘united’ in said ‘con’.

    As for relying on the Heritage fund, it is to laugh. Coming from Ontario where the underlying thought was said O&G revenues should belong to all Canadians, I fell over laughing when locals explained to me with wide eyed earnestness that said fund was ‘safely being administered by’ the Alberta government. I knew instantly that said monies wouldn’t be available if & when needed & was proven correct. Turned out in the 80’s when the NEP & an economic downturn left a smoking hole in the provincial economy that the Heritage fund $ had all of them been loaned out at extremely low rates of interest to Ontario & Quebec! So was not ‘available’ to offset Albertan’s economic woes. How low an interest rate? About 3% when mortgage rates were running up to 21% & a GIC could easily be had for around 9%. Add in the attempt media made to find out who was in charge of the Heritage fund & where the money was. They couldn’t find out who was officially in charge of said fund.

    Also, whatever happened to that promise that the majority of the surplus from O&G revenues were going to be used to pay down the provinces debt? Did that payment actually occur as trumpeted in the media or was most or all of those funds diverted for this dog & pony show pre-election budget? As I recall, when the NDP won the election turned out that the Conservatives had left the budget cupboard bare despite claims it was overflowing with surplus funds during the election campaign. Then tried to lay the blame for the empty cupboard on the NDP. Heck, the UCP & followers are still trying to blame all Alberta’s fiscal woes on the NDP. Not buying it.

    • Linda, these are excellent questions! You’ve highlighted both the mismanagement of the Fund as well as the astounding lack of transparency which prevents the public from holding the government to account.
      Once again I’m reminded how hypocritical the conservatives can be. They would never tolerate this kind of behavior in the private sector (or if the NDP were guilty of it) and yet when it comes to the performance of their chosen party…well, then it’s nothing to see here, move along.

  11. Jaundiced Eye says:

    Excellent column, Susan.

    Yes, it is a scam budget but for the majority of Alberta voters that is all that is required. Panem et circenses.

    I am waiting for the NDP to start throwing elbows and fighting back in ernest. However, I am not hearing a lot of push back from the NDP these days which is puzzling considering all of the crazy ideas and policies Smith has championed lately.

    Do the NDP may have too many dreamy eyed romantics to defeat the UCP? Gripe all you want about the right in this province but they know how to win.

    • Jaundiced Eye: Thanks!
      I suspect it’s hard for the NDP to criticize a spend budget but at the same time, they could certainly argue (1) much of this spending is to fix problems the UCP created in the first place and (2) do you really trust Smith to deliver on her promises after all the flip flops she’s done since last fall?
      Time will tell whether Albertans are smart enough to realize they’re being bamboozled.

    • Dave says:

      The budget did have a lot of spending to try quiet a lot of problems, which I suppose is hard to be against, but somehow I found it still managed to be underwhelming in general. Of course you expect the opposition to be against it and it was, but I noticed the NDP did not come out as hard against it as I thought they might. There is a lot there to digest, so perhaps some of the problems with it are in the weeds or as they say the devil is in the details and that may get more attention over the next few weeks and months. I don’t know, but perhaps that is the strategy.

      • GoinFawr says:

        “What we got here is a little game of ‘Show and Tell’. Now, you don’t want to show me nothin’, but you’re telling me everything.” – C.Walken

        That is, the UCP don’t want to show Albertans what they have planned if Danielle Smith remains premier in May, but the inductive argument supported by this bribe of a budget is telling you that, as usual, the same UCP hand that invariably giveth so freely immediately before an election, always looks to begin the taking away immediately following a re-election. And that’s not to mention the agenda of the domestic and foreign theocrats backing her. Ron DeSantis here you come!

        Fair warning Albertans.

      • Very true GoinFawr: Trevor Tombe says the UCP based this budget on $79 a barrel oil. If it slips to $75 they’re cooked. But they don’t care, do they, all they need is a budget to get them to election day. After that it can fall apart like wet tissue paper. they’ll blame oil prices, all the promised goodies will disappear and we’re stuck with them for for long, miserable years, hacking and cutting in true UCP fashion.

      • Dave says:

        Today it is under $67, so no way in heck Smith’s budget is not in deficit now if this continues. I’d like to see some brave reporter bring this up and ask her about it. It would make her squirm a bit. Even better would be a follow up question if she would cut spending to get back to a surplus if necessary and if so what she would cut.

        Is anyone in Alberta’s mainstream media brave enough to do this?

      • Dave, I wonder whether part of the reason the NDP didn’t come down hard on this budget is because it is, as you said, a lot to digest. People tune out when you try to give them the details, which is a shame because if they don’t understand the context–sharp cuts in the early years under Kenney, then increased spending in an election year by Smith, which might, must might, bring us back to where we were in 2019–then they get hoodwinked. It’s easier for them to go with the misconception that the conservatives are good fiscal managers, even when the evidence proves them wrong.
        PS your comment about oil being under $67 is a very good one.

  12. Danusia says:

    This is a perfect and clear summary of the misdirection of the UCP’s budget and therefore their vision (or lack thereof) for the province. I would urge all your readers to use it as a foundation for speaking points to anyone at all who’s a voter in our province, even if in conversation with a kindred NDP’er. The reflections here need to be spread far and wide — sometimes even sympathetic people don’t have the clarity of ideas to pass on to others. It’s infuriating that rural Alberta has the power to vote in a government, but we can make some difference with dialogue around our kitchen tables, at coffee dates or over a beer.

    • Danusia, I love your suggestion that we continue to talk to our fellow Albertans about these points.
      Also, I’d encourage all Albertans to ask their UCP candidates questions about the issues Smith has gone quiet on. It’s not enough for a UCP candidate to say “oh we’re still working our way through that” because it will be too late to stop Smith from making these changes (eg. shifting my CPP to Alberta) if the UCP is elected on May 29.
      These UCP candidates want us to elect them to be our representatives. Our representatives are law makers. We deserve to know where they stand on CPP, provincial police, more privatized education and healthcare, sovereignty, separation, etc. BEFORE they’re in office.

    • GoinFawr says:

      What a lovely comment, and thank you for the good advice.

  13. Irene says:

    The razzle dazzle of the Danielle Smith’s budget show is a distraction from the real intentions of the folks in the wings, namely the “Take Back Alberta” thugs. The fact that she has gone mum on the most contentious and alarming aspects of their agenda should bolster Albertans’ instincts of self-preservation enough to send the UCP packing.

    My family has been in Alberta six generations now- my grandmother was born here the year Alberta became a province and joined the Confederation. I’ll be damned if these yahoos think they can bamboozle us into separation from our country.

    They want “gun freedom”? So our schoolchildren have to practice hiding from “active shooters”? So we can have mall shoot-outs? If they like the U.S.’ “second amendment” so much why don’t they move down there? They can take their guns with them, and when they get there, shove them where the sun don’t shine.

    They want their own private police force! If they can’t explain why, in words that make sense, that should scare the bejeebers out of Albertans.

    What about robbing Albertans of their pensions? Smith has sure gone all quiet about pulling out of the CPP hadn’t she? She can’t give any reasonable rationale for it, that’s why. People get real antsy about the thought that someone will scam them out of the funds they need to live on. They should seriously ask themselves if they would even buy a used car from this woman.

    And, don’t get me started on this anti-public health, anti-vaccine, anti-science stupidity. So, what? Do away with sanitation? Go back to the days of typhoid and polio? Persecute anyone who promotes vaccinations of any kind? We need meningitis and whooping cough outbreaks for kiddies because, freedom?

    There cannot be a single Alberta citizen who thinks Danielle Smith and the UCP are there because they care about making life better for them and their families. Crumb, look at who she lobbied for, the lobbyists who park their butts in her office, all the big, fat donations rolling in to her, the party and their PACs. They are not throwing money at her out of the goodness of their hearts. There is plenty they want in return. Alberta needs responsible, authentic government not a bunch of con artists with “For Sale” signs on their backsides.

    It burns my garters that the UCP thinks so little of Albertans that they think we can be bought off by a few measly cheques of our own money, and scared into Separation by constantly making Trudeau out to be the big, bad Bogeyman. The UCP are the ones we should be terrified of. We can’t let these shysters
    anywhere near our Legislature. It’s time to shut their show down.

    • Sharon says:

      Irene you need to be in politics!!!! The NDP need you!!! I agree with every word you said. Being a sixth generation Albertan and seeing through the razzle dazzle of the the Unhinged Chaotic Party makes you a rare commodity.

    • Irene, you raise a very important point. The TBA crowd is taking over the UCP bit by bit. The fact that real progressive conservatives aren’t fighting the take over tooth and nail astounds me.
      Oh sure, I’ve heard some come out strongly against them, but too many appear to be willing to trade their integrity for power.
      I don’t know why this surprises me. The PCs let Kenney become leader even though he made it crystal clear his goal was to replace the PCs with hard-right conservatives. What’s surprising is that even the Kenney conservatives weren’t far enough right to satisfy the UCP.

  14. Dave says:

    Maybe up there with the I promise not to waste all my money in the next boom, there should be a bumper sticker that says We won’t get fooled again.

    How many times have we had a conservative government that was big spending just before the election and turned into spending cuts after the election? This is made worse by a boom/bust economy dependant on energy revenues which are known to fluctuate a lot and it is one reason why there has been such turn over of Conservative Premiers – Getty, Stelmach, Redford and Kenney to name several that come to mind.

    It is unfortunate that the UCP does not take economic diversification more seriously. Of course, when times are good, it doesn’t seem that necessary and then when things turn, then the government says can’t afford it. So we remain trapped in the boom bust roller coaster, which based on Mr. Tombe’s analysis will only get worse in the future.

    I realize politics often focuses on short term thinking and something like Lougheed’s setting up the Heritage Fund is a rare example of foresight. However, if we keep on voting for short term thinking we shouldn’t complain when in a year or two the recent spending on health care and education invariably again turns to cuts.

    By now you would think we would have learned. It is up to us whether we get fooled again.

    • Mike J Danysh says:

      “It is unfortunate that the UCP does not take economic diversification more seriously.” True, and worse. The UCP, except possibly Travis Toews, doesn’t take economic LITERACY seriously.

    • Dave: I smiled when I read your opening sentence because in the Budget speech Toews said “In the 1980s and ’90s there was a saying going around the province: please, Lord, give us one more oil boom, and I promise not to squander it this time. As I recall, there was a different term, a less parliamentary term, used for squander.” and then he proceeds to detail all the ways he’s going to squander it this time around.
      I’m all for thoughtful spending of my tax dollars on public services (by that I mean publicly funded and publicly delivered services). I’m opposed to the government using my tax dollars to repay lobbyists for their loyalty or worse yet, paying RStar lawbreakers to obey the law.
      If Albertans vote in the UCP with full knowledge of these egregious violations of good governance, then it may be time to move.

      • Carlos says:

        Susan the main reasons some of us are still here is because unfortunately we can no longer move without having in mind the costs of housing every where in Canada. I would have already moved as I have stopped believing it is possible to make Alberta a much better place. There are no doubts a lot of Albertans are very prone to cults and conspiracy theories and that we are willing to screw this province in the name of crazy theories. It is not a new phenomenon. One just has to go back to the 30s and the magic of Social Credit. Peter Lougheed broke that cycle and unintentionally created the current one. We very much function like a herd of blind sheep. If you happen to be a thinker outside the box you are eliminated by the Conservative Inquisition.

  15. karen bain says:

    Brilliant and informative – as usual.

  16. Carlos says:

    For 40 years people have been expecting not to be dependent on oil revenues but nothing ever changes. The only thing that changes constantly is more money to corporations, be it in tax levels or royalty levels.

    The Norwegian example which is very similar to ours in production levels, just does not count because of course Norway is a communist country as far as the UCP is concerned. No examples from socialists is acceptable.

    So we continue in our loser path to double down on our capitalist free market ideology that has just created the booms and busts the Conservatives love because every time we have a bust they lower corporate taxes even more or the royalties because we are spending too much. Big oil companies continue laughing all the way to the bank and seriously celebrate our idiotic levels of management.

    It would be interesting to know how many of our ministers and premiers have accounts in the Bahamas. You know, those accounts no one knows who they belong to.

    • Linda says:

      I’d add that Norway’s Wealth Fund where their oil & gas revenues were invested was created in 1996. The current value fluctuates but regardless, the fact remains that a fund created AFTER Alberta’s Heritage fund was in existence is valued at over $1 (one) TRILLION dollars today. Compare that to our pitiful current Heritage Fund valuation of some $15 billion. A trillion is one thousand billion….. Hence my earlier comment about fiscal mismanagement on an epic scale by Conservative governments. Not only should Alberta be debt free, our Heritage Fund should be at least as rich as Norway’s & in fact should exceed it by a considerable amount, given that it was established better than a decade earlier than the one Norway has.

      • GoinFawr says:

        Great points Linda. How embarrassing it must be for Albertans everytime this comparison is made. They must be too furious with themselves for squandering such an opportunity for decades on end.

        Norwegians made sure they owned the primary concern extracting that nonrenewable natural resource. Here the internationally traded (so: owned) oil companies called on Alberta’s Universities to figure out a way to steam the oil out of the sands, once they had it said thanks for the tech’ and began doing just that. Albertans got the laughing-stock of the oil producing world’s royalty regime for the privilege of cheaply powering the US midwest.

      • Linda and GoinFawr: these are great points. Which lead me to one conclusion, true-blue conservatives will stick with their guy/gal regardless of how hopelessly inept they are. If that isn’t sad, I don’t know what is.

    • Carlos, you nailed it when you said the UCP doesn’t take kindly to those of us who remind them of how well Norway is doing. It’s always easier to say oh well that’s because Norway has high taxes and is a socialist country (both overstated) or it’s a country and Alberta is a province (so how do they explain the fact Quebec’s Generation Fund will outpace our Heritage Fund this year and we had a 30 year head start).
      At the end of the day it comes down to good government. Lougheed and Notley delivered, the others did not…and Kenney and Smith are the worst of a bad bunch.

      • mikegklein says:

        Good evening. Just rereading this brilliant conversation. It occurs to me that Alberta may well be a colony as UCP et al suggest, just not a colony of Ottawa, rather, an economic colony of carbon desequesters.

  17. Linda says:

    Make that decades earlier. As per the mighty Google, Alberta established the Heritage Fund in 1976, 20 years before Norway established their fund for oil & gas revenues. Given that head start, our Heritage fund should be around the $2 (two) trillion dollar mark by now.

    • Great point Linda. And yet the Conservatives are viewed as great fiscal managers. Which takes us back to the point others have made about Albertans being in thrall to O&G companies and the conservative governments that support them.

  18. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my next song pick, Seem To Have The Blues All Of The Time. It is from the British rock band Procol Harum, and this was recorded around 1967. The writers were Gary Brooker and Keith Reid. We lost Gary Brooker in February of 2022, at age 76. Other band members of Procol Harum have birthdays this month, including organist Matthew Fisher on March 7, guitarist Robin Trower on March 9, and (the late) drummer B.J Wilson on March 18. Procol Harum is in my music collection, and I did see them live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra 4 times, and I met different band members.

    • Dwayne, thanks for this. I was just wondering who’s coming up to replace these great musicians. There are a few female singers I really like but I’m not familiar with the band scene anymore.

  19. Mari says:

    Indeed, and that is why I will cast my vote accordingly. NDP

  20. Reynold Reimer says:

    As usual, the UCP are way out of their depth. And flailing. When the NDP surprised themselves by gaining power in 2015 they had a large number of rookie MLAs who hadn’t actually expected to be elected. Most became competent MLAs in a surprisingly short time. The UCP, on the other hand, appear to have learned nothing during what is now almost an entire term. Which is fitting, because they are led by the queen of lead trial balloons.

    • Reynold, you’re absolutely right. The NDP MLAs may have been rookies but they had an excellent leader in Rachel Notley. I can’t say the same for Kenney or Smith. Kenney learned nothing from Harper (perhaps that was a blessing) and Smith has learned nothing from anyone. It took Kenney 3 years to lose the leadership to the Take Back Alberta bunch. How long will it take for Smith to lose the party? Because as Poilievre just found out, you can never be far enough right for the convoy crowd.

  21. Lee Neville says:

    The UCP has predictably, consistently and negligently tabled a budget every bit as woefully stupid, unimaginative and ideologically constipated as every similar bit of financial incompetence puked up by the Progressive Conservatives before them.

    46 years of dumb – what a record!

    Want a real Heritage Trust fund? Easy – Stop spending it! This is the Norwegian secret!

    Pay the taxes necessary to fund the level of services you want to enjoy. Alberta doesn’t have a spending problem – it has a funding problem. A realistic tax regime is the only way out of this sugar rush insulin crash provincial petroleum economy.

    Oh yes, dumping these dumbass right wing clowns once and forever!

    • Lee, you nailed it–the problem in a nutshell, Albertans want it all but don’t want to pay for it. Then when it all blows up in their faces, they whine.
      And they pride themselves on their independent, pull themselves up by the bootstraps mythical identity.

  22. Dwayne says:

    Susan: Here is my final song pick. This is from the Canadian rock band Rush. It is a composition from Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart, The Big Money. It was released in 1985. I’ve seen Rush twice live.

    • Dwayne, the video and lyrics to this song are bang on. Especially this: [It’s} A Cinderella story on a tumble of the dice.”
      Seems we’ve been living on a tumble of the dice for more than 4 decades. Surely we’ve learned our lesson by now.

  23. Survivor says:

    The razzle dazzle diverts attention from a host of UCP policies that will defy our sense of justice and fairness if they are in power another four years. Begin with the 5 billion flushed down the toilet on Keystone (stolen from Albertans). Add the 20 billion that will go to RStar and, wow, we could more than double the Heritage Savings plan. Creating an Alberta police force assumes the feds will simply transfer the RCMP resources to Alberta. Creating an Alberta version of the CPP would put billions more at the disposal of the UCP. With Danielle’s expressed support for building a new arena in Calgary and further subsidizing a billionaire’s business, Calgary will indeed be the electoral battleground. It is sad that our sports enthusiasm could take resources that would be better applied to education, health care, public transit and public housing.

    • Survivor, good points here.
      With respect to Calgary, it would appear that notwithstanding Smith’s statement that the reason the budget provided zero for Calgary revitalization was because our mayor failed to ask. It turns out Gondek did ask via a letter in November and at meetings with the province since then. I certainly hope Calgarians focus on the fact Smith plays fast and loose with the facts, rather than the shiny new arena she’s sure to offer them any day now.

  24. JCurrie says:

    Thanks for the realistic analysis of how the “otherland” and most of Calgary still holds the power in Alberta. I have been struck by the deep rooted culture of Alberta since I moved here four years ago..the incredible contrast between Edmonton and Calgary, the complete cultural and economic “capturing” of the whole province by the rapacious and deeply dishonest oil and gas industry (who would rather see us all go down than try to act responsibly) , the lack of protection for workers, the convenient and deep-seated hatred of the liberals in Ottawa despite them spending millions on a pipeline that I and many other Canadians did not approve of and as an incubator of dangerous right-wing violent militia-type groups which is a real danger to the rest of Canada.

    And the UCP is working hand in glove with all these disparate elements including, unbelievably offering a seat of honour for Tamara Lich during the Throne Speech.

    I too worry about the NDP’s inability to have a hard clear message or to deliver in a smart way, with conviction. I like Notley very much and appreciated her government which did a lot of great things, large and small plus no scandals! But changing the culture in Alberta is going to take decades if it ever happens. I remember Beto O-Rouke saying this ….despite his best efforts…he just can’t make it happen. There is a different narrative here which is good and of course, climate change will continue on its destructive path with many of us becoming poorer when government will not or cannot respond.

    On a personal level, I am most worried about CPP which I have paid into all my working life. The craziness of Alberta having its own pension plan…of this even being an option is unbelievable. How can a population of just over 4 million people generate the profits to sustain a pension fund, particularly in the future? Even a primary school kid, it was explained, could figure this out. And the scenario seems clear – use pension fund assets to fund Alberta companies which will come to nothing but will look good and then reduce employee benefits which will satisfy business. We should be very worried indeed – we are not guaranteed a pension and if the fund goes bankrupt ….well too bad for us. Look at the efforts to sunset social security in the US.

    I have been watching the French resistance to raising the pension age in that country…anther huge general strike today. It seems that in some places there is some kind of collective sense of action. I wonder what would arouse that in Alberta?

    • J Currie: I’ve often wondered what someone new to the province thought about our politics so thank you for your clear analysis. Like you I’m desperately worried about the UCP’s plans for my CPP. Given the UCP’s support for the free market capitalistic system one would think that they, of all parties, would see the danger of shrinking our pension fund to 1/10th its size and still expecting it to perform as well. Sadly the Take Back Alberta sovereignists lack the financial acumen to understand how risky this is. It reminds me of Brexit all over again. Magical thinking drives people to make stupid choices.

      • Linda says:

        Regarding the UCP intentions towards a made in Alberta pension fund, I’d urge folks to recall the antics under the Redford government including the brief tenure of the late Jim Prentice. To great fanfare, the Redford government announced the intent to implement Bill 9. Bill 9 was an attack upon government employee pension plans which proposed to reduce benefits while increasing the amounts employees & employers would have to pay into said plan. This was due to the fact the many pension plans were in a deficit situation as a result of the financial meltdown of 2008. As a member of one of those plans (LAPP) I was immediately alarmed by this announcement & noted that the media article stated that the government was also moving forward with the implementation of Bill 10.

        For those who may not know this, whenever a big media circus announcement occurs & some item of business is tacked on like an afterthought, that afterthought is EXACTLY what one should focus on. Bill 9 was an unabashed attack upon government worker pension plans, but who recalls what Bill 10 was about? The answer is this: Bill 10 was an even more unbridled attack upon private pension plans! The proposed provisions made Bill 9 look good in comparison. In no particular order, Bill 10 would have given Alberta employers the right to change their plan provisions without recourse by the plan members – for example changing a plan from DB to DC at will; would have allowed employers complete control over & exclusive use of any pension plan surplus without recourse by plan members; would allow employers to retroactively change plan provisions including the amount paid to pensioners without recourse. Those were just some of the high lights of this unabashed destruction of private pension plan benefits. Fortunately for anyone in Alberta with a pension plan the NDP were elected before the Conservative government could implement their Bills to the detriment of all.

        Pension plans as noted tend to be rather large sums of money. During the NDP tenure LAPP members finally got the control over their pension plan that the Conservatives had been promising for literal decades. Said control was supposed to occur back during Ralph Klein’s day when the government promised self governance as the trade off for ceasing to be ‘on the hook’ for any plan deficits. This means LAPP members are wholly responsible for any plan deficits, not the taxpayers of Alberta. I can testify that our pension plan deductions were hiked to very high levels to pay off such deficits – so high we had to get CCRA permission as the amounts being paid in exceeded the amounts allowed under pension plan rules. Note that these higher payments did not result in more benefits; they were solely to pay off the plan deficit which at one point was roughly $4 billion – yes, billion – dollars.

        As soon as Kenney & crew got in, they immediately resumed their attack on government employee pension plans. Conveniently, good market returns & the aforesaid hiked premiums had cleared the deficit. In fact LAPP is currently running a surplus. All that tasty money with self governance just sitting there to be plundered. Of all the things the NDP did that irked the bejeezus out of the newly elected UCP, the fact our pension plan now had self governance & was ostensibly not under their sole control topped the list. So they then enacted legislation to force all public pension funds to use AimCo as their plan manager. Remember AimCo? The ones who had just bet a wad of money in the market & lost literal billions? As in $2 billion dollars alone out of the Heritage fund? Most employers would have canned the reckless folks who had lost so much of the public money. The UCP legislated job security for said reckless fund managers instead. Trust me on this – the sole reason the UCP wants to have a ‘made in Alberta’ pension plan is to get their paws on your pension dough so they can have fun with it. It represents power & that is like catnip to the UCP. Do whatever you have to do to keep your CPP out of the UCP hands.

    • Kathy says:

      NDP has come out, on paper, they will not touch our CPP.

      • Kathy, thank you for that excellent overview of past conservative governments attacks on pension plans. I worked at a company that switched our pension plan from DB to DC, the change was mandatory for all employees except senior management who could stay in the DB plan if they so chose (which they did, surprise, surprise). The company told the employees it was changing their pension to a DC plan for the employees’ benefit–this way the employees would have more “control” over how their pension funds would be invested. Except the employees had to invest in one or more of the 8 investments the company would allow them to invest in. In the end most employees opted to let the company invest their pensions in the default investment and lived with the risk of reduced pension benefits because the risk of bad investments fell on the employees, not the company in DC plans.
        UNLESS you were a member of senior management in which case you still got the upside of your DB pension plan.
        Funny how that works.
        PS Thanks for letting us know the NDP support Alberta staying with CPP.

  25. Carlos says:

    Word Press is stubborn today so I will try one more time

    ‘I have been watching the French resistance to raising the pension age in that country…anther huge general strike today. It seems that in some places there is some kind of collective sense of action. I wonder what would arouse that in Alberta?’

    I am sorry to tell you JCurrie but nothing arouses Albertans – I have lived here since 1981 and I am still waiting.

    While the Norwegians have amassed more than 1 Trillion dollars in their Oil Fund we are still struggling to stop the booms and busts that we so much seem to enjoy. We have 15 billion since around 1985 I believe. I am not even sure those 15 billion are still a reality.

    I apologize to all Albertans but we are a rare species, we are unware, uninterested, aloof and I do not think we have any sense of what it means to be a community. That is the difference to France and most of Europe.

    To be honest I think we cannot escape this vicious circle unless we change our political system. I know I sound like a broken record but it is true. With this system we are done. The legislature is just a place but nothing else. We still have the power to vote but then the lobbyists take over and that is it for us and all the back benchers that resolve NOTHING.

    We are addicted to majority systems which basically recreate a compassionate dictatorship. Once the election is over, all promises are forgotten, people do not participate in any system at all and we become 100% consumers. We never hear from any party until we start a new election cycle. All they want from us is MONEY. Give me your donation so I can get a better pension and get into the legislature. No accountability, no transparency no responsibility and tones and tones of propaganda, lies and misinformation.

    Is this an exaggeration? Just look where we are and what we have accomplished and you will agree with me.

    We now are giving our money to corporations to clean up the mess they created. In the meantime we have the highest level of homelessness ever in Canada. We have a housing crisis and at the same time we are allowing another 500 thousand people in this year just to satisfy the needs of corporate Canada that just does not want to train anybody. They exist to consume us an our money and pay the CEOs salaries and bonuses that make our lotteries look like a joke.

    • Carlos, you make a good point re: our political system and the way we choose those who govern us. While we’re not as screwed up at the U.S. there is much we could do to improve our system. Any system that allows a party with less than 50% of the vote to form a majority government is flawed.
      I also think you made an important point about other countries recognizing the value of community.
      This is one of many things that bothers me about the UCP. They believe they’re rugged individualists who can take care of themselves without “handouts” but at the same time, they’re more than prepared to give handouts to corporations (then they’re called “subsidies” and “incentives”). And if you’re a person, not a corporation, who is eligible for government assistance, you’d better be a member of the “worthy” poor, not a bum, or you won’t get a “hand up”. All this judgmental moralizing about the redistribution of wealth is sickening.

    • Riles says:

      I think there is a sense of Alberta community, but it’s not one I’ve ever felt a part of, and I’ve been here since ’81 as well. There is a bit of a Horatio Alger mythology here, to be sure… come for the opportunity and bootstrap yourself up. What kind of community does that engender? The “Wild West” mythos has been fostered and cultivated carefully. I’ve been outside the community I call “‘Burta” since 1981…. O&G pay the bills for so many people here, directly and indirectly, and as in similar States, ranching, farming, rig working seem to all be a part. They’re cohesive in their pursuit of individual freedom and prosperity, and for them that means dig the sands, take the paycheck, buy the pickup and the ATV and the snowmobile and the wake-surfer, and live in the moment… lots of YOLO, a ton of pride (!), not much long-term planning. “I got mine…” Vigorously protected by industry & government who will keep taking advantage of them as long as they can.

      Then there is the community that the readers here would feel a part of. I work in health care and feel that sense of community with my colleagues, although many don’t bother to read the news or stay informed (!). As others have said: keep talking, inform, disabuse, encourage. We’re not a small group, but what is our identity and symbology? Can we pull together to create a new Alberta before we’re just looking at ashes?

      • Riles says:

        Sorry for the repetition—missed my last proofread.

      • Riles, your description of “Burta” rings true.
        And your question: “what is our identity and symbology” intrigues me. I think it would be difficult to create a symbol per se because the results of the YOLO crowd’s efforts are material things like houses, cars, boats, etc whereas the results of the efforts of those who care about community are better public services that lift everyone up. We pool our tax dollars to improve life for everyone, not just ourselves and we feel good about that. Unlike Stephen Harper who said all taxes are bad, we agree with Oliver Wendell Holmes who said taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society. Harper’s view is founded in selfishness, Holmes is founded in empathy.
        How do we bridge the gap?

  26. Carlos says:

    ‘And the UCP is working hand in glove with all these disparate elements including, unbelievably offering a seat of honour for Tamara Lich during the Throne Speech.’

    That alone clearly tells what the UCP values are.

    As you know she was given an award
    The Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms is giving Tamara Lich the George Jonas Freedom Award for her involvement in the Freedom Convoy 2022 and the hardship she has faced because of it.

    I believe this is enough to figure out what the right wing represents today in Canada

    SHOCKING – I never thought possible but here we are taking the first steps to oblivion as a respected nation.

    • Carlos, I didn’t know about the JCCF award to Tamara Lich. When Drew Barnes introduced Lich he described her as follows: “She is a grandma, a musician, and a true leader within the freedom movement. She gave hope to all of Alberta, Canada, and the world. She was proud to stand strong and free in the face of the worst government overreach in a generation…Tens of thousands of Canadians supported and helped Tamara.”
      If that isn’t deluded, I don’t know what is.
      Barnes was ousted out of the UCP by Kenney and now sits as an independent, but apparently many UCP MLAs joined in applauding Tamara Lich after Barnes’ glowing introduction.

      • Carlos says:

        Drew Barnes could not say anything different from this because he considers himself a Freedom Fighter in Canada. Other people, like myself, have a different name for him.

  27. Mike J Danysh says:

    So the budget is about what worked in the past? Sure, Trav. Like this latest omigawd moment from the Rural Municipalities of Alberta association? Oil companies continue to stiff rural governments. The AER tries to “help” by talking to oil company owners.

    Paul McLauchlin, president of Rural Municipalities of Alberta, “said many of the remaining tax deadbeats, most of which are not members of industry associations, are companies so marginal the regulator is afraid to crack down on them and force them to close their doors before they’ve cleaned up their wells.”

    Now we know who’s gonna benefit from Danielle Smith’s RStar “rebate” (a.k.a. bailout gift) program.

    Better idea: nationalize the zombie companies. Audit the living hell out of them, and sue the owners who’ve broken ANY business law, tax law or safety law. Then retrain the employees to remediate orphan wells. The employees win—they get to keep jobs, albeit different than what they do now (“sustainable jobs,” anyone?). The taxpayers win—deadbeat owners get kicked out of business. Only the deadbeat owners lose.

    • Mike J: I like your suggestion. What a novel approach, to go after the deadbeat companies instead of coddling them. It’s funny that it’s the UCP, a conservative government, that in the past would pride itself on being the fiscally responsible, law and order party. that is proposing this giveaway.
      Smith says it’s only $100 million (“only” $100 million) but that’s just for the pilot project, the actual cost as set out in her proposal when she was a lobbyist is $20 billion. That is a mind boggling sum and every Alberta, including the TBA diehards should be up in arms about it.

  28. Carlos says:

    This is a reply to Riles but WordPress is not allowing me replies today so here it is at the root level

    Riles I agree with you. This sense of extreme individualism is sick and destructive. Of course we have our own smaller groups but even there I do not always feel very comfortable with.

    I have tried more than a couple of times to understand the political groups here in Edmonton and it is not even worth mentioning other than to go door to door in a frenzy which to be honest I consider not just a waste of time but I good psychological process of accepting rejection especially if one is not a Conservative.

    I know that many people live for this door to door curling event but considering that our ultimate form of electioneering just shows what it all comes down to when we talk about politics here in Alberta. It is almost a form of self flagellation or the only way to win elections. It is, for many, an initiation into a system that does not exist outside of being an MLA or election time.

    Is it any wonder the political system is just a form of raising funds for the parties. It is the only time I receive any communication from them.

    Other than that one can get an extra meeting in some park with coffee and donuts and if you disagree with the MLA organizing the meeting you might as well keep it simple and go home and have a coffee and donut with your pet.

    Usually the norm is that the MLA gets tired of listening to you and send you to an assistant that gives you some leaflets and a couple of emails that usually you do not get a reply from.

  29. Jim says:

    I notice that, in a budget full of pre-election goodies, post-secondary education still got the back of the government’s hand with a .6 percent increase, a measure of the contempt this government’s supporters harbour towards higher education.

    • Jim, that’s exactly the way I’d interpret the budget as it relates to post-secondary education. The way the UCP treated Athabasca University is further evidence of their contempt for education. They threatened to cut $3.4 million out of Athabasca’s base operating grant if the university didn’t reverse its “near-virtual” strategy. Apparently they thought by forcing the university into in-person education it would boost the population of the town and…what…deliver prosperity. My daughter is a nurse and was able to maintain her accreditation because she had access to the university’s online curriculum. She was beside herself when she hear about this brouhaha.
      I don’t know what it is about the UCP and it’s propensity to break everything they see.

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