|MLA Pat Stier, Livingstone-Macleod MLA|
In the provincial election campaign last spring, Premier Alison Redford promised to change the character of Alberta. With the recent announcement Alberta will now join the ranks of indebted provinces, she has delivered.
Alberta has held the distinction of being the only debt-free province in Canada since the days of Ralph Klein, who deservedly received the Order of Canada recently for his wise stewardship of the province. Since 2004, Alberta has been debt-free. It is a cherished accomplishment Albertans are proud of and it represents our commitment to living within our means. Balancing the budget means cutting wasteful government spending and reducing red tape where possible – not writing $2 billion cheques for corporations.
Finance Minister Doug Horner says it’s no different than a family taking a mortgage on a house. He’s wrong for two reasons. First, people pay their own way on a mortgage. With provincial debt, it’s the taxpayer that pays. Also, unlike a home, roads and bridges are not sellable assets. The house comparison just doesn’t hold water.
In the coming months and years, Mr. Horner and Premier Redford will claim to have a balanced operating budget, all the while incurring massive debt on infrastructure. They’re counting on Albertans not being smart enough to see through the fog.
There is no justifiable reason for Alberta to go into debt. Alberta takes in over $10 billion in resource revenues each year and runs a budget over $40 billion. Debt in a province like Alberta is the result of economic incompetence, wasteful spending and gross mismanagement.
The out-of -touch PC government does not know how to prioritize its spending, so here are some tips for the government to avoid its impending debt freefall: