Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Mortgaging our children’s futures - MLA Column

Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier
MLA Pat Stier, Livingstone-Macleod MLA

In the provincial election campaign last spring, Premier Alison Redford promised to change the character of Alberta. With the recent announcement Alberta will now join the ranks of indebted provinces, she has delivered.

Alberta has held the distinction of being the only debt-free province in Canada since the days of Ralph Klein, who deservedly received the Order of Canada recently for his wise stewardship of the province. Since 2004, Alberta has been debt-free. It is a cherished accomplishment Albertans are proud of and it represents our commitment to living within our means. Balancing the budget means cutting wasteful government spending and reducing red tape where possible – not writing $2 billion cheques for corporations.

Finance Minister Doug Horner says it’s no different than a family taking a mortgage on a house. He’s wrong for two reasons. First, people pay their own way on a mortgage. With provincial debt, it’s the taxpayer that pays. Also, unlike a home, roads and bridges are not sellable assets. The house comparison just doesn’t hold water.

Premier Redford’s return to debt will dig a hole in which she will throw our children and grandchildren’s futures. It’s just not right.

In the coming months and years, Mr. Horner and Premier Redford will claim to have a balanced operating budget, all the while incurring massive debt on infrastructure. They’re counting on Albertans not being smart enough to see through the fog.

There is no justifiable reason for Alberta to go into debt. Alberta takes in over $10 billion in resource revenues each year and runs a budget over $40 billion. Debt in a province like Alberta is the result of economic incompetence, wasteful spending and gross mismanagement.

The out-of -touch PC government does not know how to prioritize its spending, so here are some tips for the government to avoid its impending debt freefall:
  • Cancel the government’s funding gift to corporations for unproven carbon capture and storage technology, for a savings of $2 billion.
  • Cancel corporate welfare through AOSTRA 2, (Alberta Oil Sands Technology and Research Authority - Works out to $150 million for 20 years, with a government panel reviewing research proposals), for savings of $3 billion.
  • End the 8% MLA pay increase. That would save $11,000 per MLA every year.
These types of cost savings would allow the government to continue funding infrastructure priorities like the twinning of Highway 63 and the building of new schools and hospitals.
During the election, Wildrose asked where the PCs would come up the money to follow through on the whole list of promises the Premier had made. We had to wait till now to find out but the Premier finally answered: our children will pay. With this poor fiscal decision, the Premier has followed through on her intentions to change the character of Alberta – for the worse.

As MLA for Livingstone Macleod, I look forward to hearing from you. Please contact my office at or call at 403-646-6256 and toll-free 1-800-565-0962.

Pat Stier

Note: The opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are theirs and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Pincher Creek Voice.

1 comment:

  1. Pat, here is a repost of a comment I did recently on this blog that I think is worth repeating because of the nature of your post...

    Having a government(s) in for decades at a time has been a disaster for this province. Our Heritage Fund is less than it was 30 years ago while Alaska's and the Netherlands are in the hundreds of billions. We've done virtually nothing to diversify our economy leaving us dependent on the market place for oil, which now with North Dakota and the

    U.S. energy renaissance


    The End of Growth

    the future for Alberta looks pretty grim.

    I think debt and much of it is inevitably in our future. No way around it. Wish we could follow your advice (not borrowing and going into debt) but I think it is too late for that now... unless we resort to austerity measures again attacking the poor and defenceless, but even that will be a temporary stop gap measure that will not solve our problems in the long run and will only exacerbate them instead, while allowing social unrest to become a ticking time-bomb due to years of neglect and selfishness by those who knew only how to look after themselves, at the expense of everyone else.


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