What holds Canada together?

It certainly isn't any sense of national purpose

What holds Canada together?As long as I’ve been following politics (which is almost as long as I’ve been alive), the question of what defines Canada has provided unsatisfying answers. Polls typically tell us that some combination of the Charter of Rights, our health care system, and the fact that we are not American top the list. Canadians generally…

Alberta taxpayers getting nickel and dimed in 2022

Bit by bit, politicians will be taking more money from your family this year

Alberta taxpayers getting nickel and dimed in 2022Another year and another New Year’s dominated by COVID-19. Restrictions on hockey games, travel and even community gatherings lead the news. While that diverts our attention, politicians are nickel and diming us with higher taxes. In 2022, we’ll pay higher income taxes, carbon taxes, property taxes and even higher taxes for a bottle of booze.…

Trust in the competence of politicians, health experts eroding

Without that trust, public officials lose their social licence to govern

Trust in the competence of politicians, health experts erodingThe heartbreaking death of Nathanael Spitzer, the cancer-stricken boy from Ponoka, exposed a most callous streak in Alberta’s medical bureaucracy. There’s no forgiving how Alberta Health Services appallingly used a child’s death to promote yet more COVID-19 fear. However, one should dismiss the promise from Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Deena Hinshaw, to process…

Albertans need a plan to balance the budget

Without a plan, the government is flying blind

Albertans need a plan to balance the budgetIt’s ironic to procrastinate on planning. Sure, things will change, and any plan will have to change too, but it’s still essential to have some ideas about where to go and how to get there. There will never be a better time to make a plan. Yet Alberta is putting off its financial planning. It…

Alberta leads the way in cutting labour mobility red tape

Making it easier for professionals certified in over 100 occupations to move to the province

Alberta leads the way in cutting labour mobility red tapeWhile nearly one in three Canadian businesses is reporting labour shortages, Alberta is taking steps to make it easier for professionals certified in over 100 occupations to move to the province. Currently, these professionals wait between six and 12 months for their credentials from other provinces to be recognized. Thus, highly proficient Canadian-trained professionals like…

How to put an end to bad government decisions

Bad government decisions have one thing in common: lack of independent oversight

How to put an end to bad government decisionsA litany of disastrous government decisions in Canada have sometimes cost lives and definitely many billions of dollars. The list is long: effectively cancelling the Global Public Health Intelligence Network; the failure to implement the pandemic preparedness protocols developed by the federal government’s public health officer; the Alberta government’s disastrous ‘investments’ in the Keystone XL…

Oil and gas extraction sector contributes $53B to federal finances

Much of Alberta's revenues end up in provinces such as Quebec via federal transfers

Oil and gas extraction sector contributes $53B to federal financesBy Mark Milke and Lennie Kaplan Canadian Energy Centre Nearly 62 per cent of Alberta voters endorsed removing equalization from the Constitution in a recent referendum. Constitutional scholar Ted Morton, a former Alberta finance minister, argues that the province has leverage to force the issue. Others argue that equalization has a weak constitutional status, which…

Equalization has cost Alberta $67 billion

And what has it bought? Hostility

Equalization has cost Alberta $67 billionBy Kevin Lacey and Franco Terrazzano Canadian Taxpayers Federation Sixty-seven billion dollars. That’s how much the federal government’s equalization scheme has cost Alberta taxpayers since its inception in 1957. This year, equalization will cost Alberta taxpayers nearly $3 billion. That means that equalization will cost an Alberta family of four about $2,600 this year on…

Canada needs to take Alberta’s equalization grievances seriously

Referendum is exposing a deep crack in Confederation

Canada needs to take Alberta’s equalization grievances seriouslyAlberta’s referendum on equalization is more than a vote on a federal program: it’s an urgently needed conversation about a deep crack in Confederation. So far, Canada has ignored the problem and the rift has grown. Now a referendum yes vote will push federal and provincial governments to the negotiation table. So, let’s talk. All…

Albertans need to vote yes to abolishing equalization

A show of force would strengthen our hand in our fight for fairness with Ottawa

Albertans need to vote yes to abolishing equalizationTired of yelling at the TV every time you hear about how much of our money is sent out east? Well, you’re in luck. The provincial government wants you to have your say on Canada’s equalization program during the province-wide municipal elections on Oct. 18th, 2021. Premier Jason Kenney is right to embrace some direct…

Alberta’s approach to COVID-19 has been medically and tactically absurd

Playing on fears, bribing and threatening to produce compliance is unconscionable

Alberta’s approach to COVID-19 has been medically and tactically absurdI am sorry to be so frank to a man whom I admired and from whom I expected good things. I confess that in younger days, I thought of Albertans mainly as people who cornered too slowly on mountain roads. But I learned, partly from you, that I must think much more of them than…

Alberta government throwing money away on oil projects

The history of government attempting to pick winners and losers in a market-based economy is absolutely abysmal

Alberta government throwing money away on oil projectsOne of the eternal questions of public policy is: should governments get into bed with private businesses? Whether it’s called a public-private partnership, buying a controlling interest for taxpayers, investing in the technologies of tomorrow or just avoiding a business failure on our watch, the debate over whether the overall idea of government investing in…

How to wreck Alberta’s path to a balanced budget

Cave in to government employee unions during negotiations

How to wreck Alberta’s path to a balanced budgetLike boxers standing in the middle of the ring before a big fight, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and government union bosses are in a stare-down before the big battle of 2021: government employee contract negotiations. For years, these negotiations were foregone conclusions. Premiers would talk tough and then cave. Politicians weren’t betting with their own…

Alberta’s own Independence Day is fast approaching

Albertans have tried to work within the system but it is stacked against them

Alberta’s own Independence Day is fast approachingFor many Albertans, it is 1775. A year later, as every American knows, the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia. At the time the Colonies were still part of the British Empire; it is, therefore, a British as much as an American document, which is why its logic has such a wide appeal today…

Changes to royalties could super-charge upgrading in Alberta

Fixing the royalty structure seems like low-hanging fruit

Changes to royalties could super-charge upgrading in AlbertaWith news of the official termination of the Keystone XL project, the Alberta government is out approximately $1.3 billion. What’s more, the province is left with unrefined bitumen that it doesn’t have the capacity to upgrade to higher-value products like gasoline and diesel. Why, then, does the province not look to develop its own capacity…

Prairie provinces debt levels a ticking time bomb

An economic burden for future generations

Prairie provinces debt levels a ticking time bombThe debt in Canada’s Prairie provinces has grown colossally during the COVID-19 pandemic, just as debt has in the rest of Canada and around the world. At the end of 2020, Alberta’s debt was estimated at $98 billion, Manitoba’s was $28.6 billion and Saskatchewan’s was $15 billion. These debts are an economic burden for the taxpayers…

Health budget should pay for increased Kananaskis use

After all, the high demand for outdoor activities springs from a need for physical activity provoked by government Covid-19 restrictions

Health budget should pay for increased Kananaskis useRising costs to operate Alberta’s Kananaskis parks should come out of the province’s health budget. As soon as the provincial government imposed a lockdown in March 2020, Albertans headed outdoors in greater numbers than ever. However, the province and municipal governments soon restricted outdoor gatherings as well. Recall the hysterical complaints about seeing people walking…

Regulatory quicksand holds back clean tech in Alberta

Sitting on an enormous economic opportunity that could address current financial and environmental issues and help diversify the economy

Regulatory quicksand holds back clean tech in AlbertaWith Alberta’s economy still sputtering and not expected to rebound until 2023, the knowledge that we are sitting on an enormous economic opportunity is music to the ears of most Albertans. The fact that this opportunity not only addresses current financial and environmental issues but also helps diversify the energy sector is a veritable symphony.…

Alberta must get its fiscal house in order without another oil boom

But any plan for fiscal austerity can’t ignore the elephant in the room – extraordinary health-care spending

Alberta must get its fiscal house in order without another oil boomAlberta’s debt has grown exponentially over the last decade, surging from under $10 billion in 2010 to $98 billion in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has set off a trap that earlier provincial administrations laid by their excessive reliance on fossil-fuel revenues. On Feb. 25, Finance Minister Travis Toews announced the province would start 2022 with…

Kenney may be down but he’s not out

His low popularity comes from his miscalculations and not from his opponents’ abilities

Kenney may be down but he’s not outAlberta Premier Jason Kenney is in some trouble. A recent opinion survey put the Opposition NDP and its leader Rachel Notley ahead of the United Conservative Party (UCP), within reach of forming a majority if a vote were held now. Kenney’s popularity has eroded during the COVID-19 crisis, even though – or perhaps because of…

How dare Kenney denigrate legitimate Alberta protests

A wise statesman doesn’t diminish the moral choices of the people he serves

How dare Kenney denigrate legitimate Alberta protestsAlberta Premier Jason Kenney recently posted on social media his reaction to protests on the steps of the legislature and GraceLife Church just west of Edmonton. Hundreds gathered at the legislature in Edmonton on April 12, including many other parts of the province. Those who know Kenney would recognize his style and tone in the…

Alberta public sector pampered, while taxpayers suffer

So much for being in this together

Alberta public sector pampered, while taxpayers sufferAlbertans are enduring a tale of two downturns during COVID-19. There’s the very real downturn full of private-sector pain. Then there’s the experience of government employees who have largely been shielded from the downturn. Over the last year, 76,600 private-sector jobs vanished in Alberta, while 5,600 government jobs were added. Since the beginning of 2015,…

Judge leaders by their abilities, not their origins

Excellence is not determined by birthplace but by an approach to success

Judge leaders by their abilities, not their originsThere is wisdom in the longstanding adage about offering unsolicited advice, which is independent of whether the advice given is good, bad or petty. This is because it’s difficult to offer unsolicited advice without actively joining or appearing to join a busybody club. Publicly given ‘advice’ always begs the question of intentions, agendas and ambitions.…

Reducing the bloat at Alberta’s universities and colleges

They need to continue to tighten their belts like everyone else

Reducing the bloat at Alberta’s universities and collegesFamilies and businesses have found ways to save money during the pandemic and downturn. Alberta’s universities and colleges can save some money too. With Alberta steamrolling through the $100-billion debt mark this year and the United Conservatives spending more than the New Democrats, there wasn’t much good for taxpayers in the Alberta government’s 2021 budget.…

Alberta’s Budget 2021 shows a lack of effort to find savings

The UCP government is spending more than the NDP

Alberta’s Budget 2021 shows a lack of effort to find savingsAlberta’s Budget 2021 blew the roof off spending restraint, leaving taxpayers with a simple question: businesses and families have found ways to save money during the pandemic and downturn, so why is the Alberta government the only place that can’t find savings? To be fair to Finance Minister Travis Toews, he is finding some savings…

Tone deaf CEOs think Albertans need to pay higher taxes

Business Council of Alberta that thinks the government should consider a provincial sales tax and carbon tax

Tone deaf CEOs think Albertans need to pay higher taxesMore than 90 big-wig business executives think you don’t pay enough taxes. It’s all laid out in a report released by the Business Council of Alberta that thinks the government should consider a provincial sales tax and carbon tax. The BCA’s website refers to itself as “a group of over 90 chief executives from across…

Equalization referendum is crucial step in Alberta’s fight for fairness

There’s only one way for Albertans to get a fair deal in Canada: fight for it

Equalization referendum is crucial step in Alberta’s fight for fairnessPrime Minister Justin Trudeau has made one thing clear: he’s not going to hand Alberta a fair deal on a silver platter. There’s only one way for Albertans to get a fair deal: fight for it. The next step in our fight for fairness is this year’s equalization referendum. The equalization referendum on Oct. 18…

Alberta taxpayers need some wins in upcoming legislative session

An Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act, recall legislation, and a fair deal for the province within Canada a good place to start

Alberta taxpayers need some wins in upcoming legislative sessionWith the Alberta government steamrolling towards a $100-billion debt tab, things aren’t exactly rainbows and lollipops for taxpayers these days. Fortunately, there are three ways MLAs can help taxpayers get ahead in the upcoming legislative session: increase government accountability, find savings at the top of the bureaucratic pyramid and reignite Alberta’s fight for fairness. It’s…
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