The new Alberta government has delayed introducing a budget until the fall, so MLAs will have plenty of time to think about how they’ll collect and spend Albertans’ money.
Imagine you’re near what you thought was a dormant volcano but it suddenly erupts. Assuming you escape, you might later reflect that there was nothing “sudden” about it.
Alberta and Texas have always had a lot in common. Ranching in the 19th century. A can-do entrepreneurial approach to oil and gas in the 20th century. And in the 21st century they are still somewhat similar.
With tumbling oil prices and resource revenues, Premier Jim Prentice had a choice when he delivered Alberta’s 2015 budget. He could emulate former premier Don Getty and raise taxes or follow the Ralph Klein playbook and reduce spending.
Over the past decade, the province of Alberta treated boom-time resource revenues like a permanent state of affairs. That set the province up for fiscal failure, for multiple lost opportunities.
It’s occasionally assumed that an environmentally sensitive approach is opposite that of a commercial approach—that ecological protection is necessarily at odds with ranching and farming.
In Alberta, to cushion the blow from falling revenues, some claim higher taxes will balance the books. How soon we forget. Alberta tried that in the late 1980s. It didn’t work.
Amid the current focus on provincial red ink, one issue has slipped off the public radar screen in Alberta: Property rights.
According to a Fraser Institute study released in February, between 2004/05 and 2013/14, the Alberta government’s program spending jumped to $43.9 billion from $29 billion.