Alberta Premier Jim Prentice is in the midst of formulating his first budget and the fiscal path of the province while watching oil prices continue to decline.
When French President Francois Hollande visited Canada recently, one hopes the Gallic leader looked around. If he did, he would have noticed a stark difference in the economic opportunities between the two countries with the advantages mostly on this side of the Atlantic.
Like other Canadians, you work hard for your money.
Faced with essential expenses such as food, clothing, and shelter, your household budget may feel squeezed. But what if we told you, your family's biggest expense is taxes?
Sure, you know how much you pay in income tax. After all, it's right there on your income tax return. In fact, income tax is the largest and most visible tax, taking $14 out of every $100 your family earns.
But that's just scratching the surface.
"Income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf," said the American humourist Will Rogers. Indeed, but lets not stop there. In Canada, debates over taxes, government and civilization lead some journalists and others into the land of make-believe, this by setting up straw men to knock down.
For example, consider a recent CBC story headlined "Not all business people hate taxes - but just try to get them to admit it."
To which one can only say: This is news?
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.
Until recently, there was a consensus in favour of competitive business taxes. But whenever governments are strapped for cash - which is most of the time for most of them, given their voracious appetite for spending - eyes quickly turn to corporate income taxes as an expedient and presumed painless way to extract more revenue. Two provinces raised corporate tax rates in 2013.