No normal person pays close attention to who is "in" or "out" as finance minister, and that's a good thing. It means the politician in question has avoided messing up the lives of ordinary Canadians. Still, their actions can and do matter, for better or worse.
If you listen to Alberta Finance Minister Doug Horner, the province's public finances are under control. The government's budget imposes no new taxes, spending growth has been moderated, and Alberta is running an operational budget surplus after successive years of budgetary deficits.
When apologists for the provincial government's new borrowing binge defend it on the grounds that private sector companies borrow money for capital expenses so why not have the Alberta government do the same? their defence invariably contains a significant and faulty assumption: that political behaviour is the same as that of private companies.
The policy direction of the Liberal Party of Canada and its leader Justin Trudeau, as evidenced by the speeches, motions, and debate at the recent national party convention seem to indicate that the party is rejecting the successful pragmatism of the 1990s. Instead, the federal Liberals favour a more interventionist and activist government, much like that of the current Ontario Liberal government. If such policies are enacted, the results would be ruinous for Canada.
As Albertans approach another provincial budget, the usual fables about Alberta's finances often crop up. To inoculate ourselves in advance, let's ponder two myths.
Myth Number One: Alberta's wealth is a result of luck.
This tall tale assumes that the existence of natural resources automatically results in wealth creation, jobs, and a higher standard of living. That's hardly the case. Plenty of jurisdictions have little in the way of natural resources but prosper, while others have plentiful natural resources yet flounder.
Tuesdays BC budget, which Finance Minister Michael de Jong called boring, balanced, should have set out an ambitious agenda for the next four years.
Back in late 2011 after the Occupy Wall Street protests, Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne gave a speech in Toronto to decry what he called "the most inane displays of greed." The reference was to behaviour he had observed while serving on various company boards over the years.