“The responsibility for the budget mess we are in lies with all of us". So says Premier Jim Prentice.
“Some of us beg to differ. Let’s see how that statement fits with the facts:"
Under the governance of the PCs, Alberta became the only province in Canada to tax its wealthiest citizens and corporations at the same rate as low and middle income earners – a flat rate of 10%.
“This was brought in by former Premier Ralph Klein over 15 years ago and was touted as the ‘Alberta Advantage’; and it has provided an advantage – particularly and disproportionately for the top 2-3% of income earners. However, it has left government coffers short – sometimes conspicuously so – when the price of oil has fallen below forecasted levels.
“The net result is that Alberta has been needlessly leaving billions of dollars in tax revenue on the table – funds we could have invested in building schools and maintaining our crumbling hospitals and roads. Instead, we are now falling into real debt, a figure that is expected to reach over $21 billion by 2016-17.
“Without sufficient revenue during times of low oil PC governments have cut funding for public education, social supports for families in need – including addiction supports and counseling – and have allowed the province to accumulate a massive infrastructure deficit.
“Now, after 20 years on the resource revenue roller coaster, and in the face of a booming population, this government has realized that unstable oil revenues cannot be relied on to meet the basic needs of our province and its people.
“Yet, astoundingly, the Premier is saying that we are all to blame. No admission that the PC government is responsible for the policy decision that abandoned a generation for the sake of ideologically satisfying tax cuts for the wealthiest.
“What Mr. Prentice seems to have forgotten is that government is a trust. The PC party has been given the honour of governing this great province, with the expectation that they would act in the best interests of its citizens. It’s true this is a made-in-Alberta problem but it was made by the PCs. The party that this premier has spent his adult life supporting, and now leads, is to blame. Full stop.
“What motivates this dismissive comment is a fear that Albertans are beginning to realize the myth that the PC party has exercised sound financial management. The truth is that the PC government is fiscally irresponsible. In fact, all they have ever done was spend our oil wealth in a single generation, while hoping to heavens that the music would never stop.
“When you’ve betrayed the trust of your citizens, at least spare them the gall of blaming them for trusting you.”