In the latest news I have read on the City of Calgary, it appears more and more they stand against almost anything. Home to some of the worlds Oil and Gas explorers and producers, Calgary thrives on the energy sector and the money it brings.
We have all heard the news on how as a Country, getting pipeline infrastructure in place is important to Canada's economy. Imagine my shock today when I read that an anti-oilsands exhibit was set up in Calgary City Hall. We have both our Federal and Provincial governments travelling the globe to promote our resources, in Calgary...the heart of Canada's resource sector we have a Municipal government promoting the anti-oilsands rhetoric.
One has to wonder exactly the direction this municipal government is taking. Some of the items on their agenda these days seem like nothing more than personal crusades of some politicians. For example, bans on shark fin soup. A judge decided in Toronto that this oversteps a bylaw power of a City, yet Calgary council seems to think it's an issue here. Unless there are sharks lurking in the city waters I see no reason for them to try and govern this issue. Want to cut down a tree on your own property? This city and the Pincott train don't think you should have those rights.
This is what the municipal government has come to. This latest move of helping the anti-oil rhetoric against our province and country. In a city that thrives on the revenues from this sector via taxes, provincial, and federal funding I am simply amazed at how irresponsible and hypocritical they are in what they stand for. In October's election I hope they are held to account. Rant done.
Seems to be that time of year for Governments to lay out their fiscal plans, with the Government of Canada releasing their 2013 plan yesterday.
For the 8th consecutive year the GoC delivered a deficit budget adding an additional $18.7 BILLION dollars of debt to Canadians. Should we worry? Absolutely. This brings our national debt well over a record setting $610,000,000,000.00, that's right $610 Billion! For every Canadian that is $18,000.00.
Not too bad you say? Well I live in Alberta where things are pretty good overall as we are just entering the Debt era. Over the years Alberta has had money to spare, but after draining down the sustainability fund to $3.7 billion from $17 billion in 2008 we can no longer rely on it. 5 straight deficits and they get larger and larger every year. The plan is to borrow an astonishing $17 billion in debt by 2016. What does this mean? Another $4418.00 for every man/woman and child in the province.
Lets go to the municipal level. I live in Rockyview County where we have a high municipal Debt. $75,444,029 placing us at one of the highest jurisdictions in Alberta. This leaves every man/woman and child totalling 36,461 with another $2069.00 of Debt.
How about at a personal level. Albertans hold an average of $157,000 in household debt (the highest in the country). Scared yet? I am.
For every man/woman/child in my County the average debt per person when combining them adds up to an astonishing $181,487.00. I won't bother to figure out what this means for my family of five. I am going to ignore the fact that low income, children, seniors, disabled, unemployed, etc...not paying income taxes would have to be covered by those that do. How much does that bring your share up to? We hear governments across the board telling us this is "Smart" debt, building for the future, etc...
Here we go again. Budget 2013 was delivered by the Alberta Government yesterday, awash in RED INK. Plunging Alberta back into debt.
Back in 1985 Don Getty entered the Premiership in Alberta with no debt, by the time he left 7 years later the province had taken on $23 Billion in debt. So I would refer to him as our "architect" of debt. Enter the 12th Premier of Alberta Ralph Klein leading the PC party to victory with 45% of the popular vote. Klein headed into the election making no promises, only saying how the government will balance its books and start paying down its multi-billion dollar debt. Away he went, slashing every department by 20-40 percent. The pain of the cuts were felt across the province, but in 1997 he his provincial support rose above 51% of the popular vote. Winning 63 seats he was clearly given the mandate to stay the course by Albertans.
Now here lies the issue, was it Klein that put us in the situation by paying the bills, or was the architect of debt Getty for taking it on in the first place? During the Klein era even after spending we saw surpluses during his reign of a unbelievable $52 Billion. That's right, the debt was paid and massive surpluses, with Albertans happy to put their hand out and receive the Ralph Bucks. To turn around today and blame him for our woes is a pretty easy out.
Enter Stelmach and Redford. With Alberta spending upwards of $40 Billion per year and posting year over year deficits since the exit of Ralph Klein. Let's be clear, it was 2005 when we declared debt free and spending started under Klein ramping up at an unsustainable rate. Almost 8 years later many Albertans blame today's spending on him.
It's utter B.S., want someone to blame? You best take a long hard look in the mirror and the current government. Scandal after scandal of wasteful spending, Billions thrown out the window to industry, and billions more thrown out to unions to keep them quiet election after election. We have entered into an entitled generation who want everything now, but don't want to pay for it. No cuts we cry, no tax increases either though. Enter debt, the popular way to pay for todays wants/needs and unload the payments on future generations. A Premier to afraid of losing an election to put us on the right track. We want the Schools, roads, hospitals etc... and they are going to build them. What's not in the projections is the cost to operate and staff them. More red ink my friends, this is not for future generations...this is for OUR generation. We need a government not afraid to make the tough choices.
We are at a crossroads. We can make cuts to balance our books. Maybe instead we raise revenues via taxes, royalties, and fees. Maybe we do a mixture of both. One thing for certain is to place the debts WE are incurring on the backs of another generation to pay is ridiculous. Why would we ever want to put anyone through what we had to go through in '92? We are spending 110% of what we earn, obviously we can't service the debt.
The answer is clear with our way of thinking. WE ARE THE ENTITLED.
Here we go again. After an inquiry looking at queue-jumping it seems the culprit is the evil private clinic, or is it?
If you have ever had serious health issues, one would not be so quick to jump to the conclusion that private clinics are one of the problems with publicly delivered health care. I know this because I have had to deal with the system, and trust me....it is far from efficient. My other half had much of her stomach and intestine removed after cancer was found about 10 years ago. Four years ago cysts developed large enough to block intestines enough that eating solid foods would cause extreme swelling, pain, and of course discomfort. To top it off she was also diagnosed with Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Now I get the specialists are overworked, but what about the family care to deal with the day to day issues while you wait?
For 2 years we dealt with our local family Dr. who seemed to think the only course of action was to go home and rest. The pain from from the MPS was to the point that many days were spent in bed, and the local family Dr. did not want to prescribe pain medication. To book an appointment was a 2-3 week wait. That's when I stumbled upon a private wellness center right here in Calgary. After going in for an interview with the clinic to see if it would fit the needs, we decided to give it a try. During the interview the first thing the Dr. told us was he could not get into the specialist any quicker, but would advocate with more than a faxed request. In the meantime, the clinic jumped on the care portion. Two meetings a week with the Dr. for approximately 45 minutes each time, a dietitian assigned to ensure proper nutrition, a kinesiologist, deep tissue massage, chiropractor, as well as pain management, all included in the yearly membership. Was this the evil of private health care? A Dr. with the time to properly practice medicine and look after a patient to let them live with dignity? Evil indeed.
Over two years before a specialist was finally available to look at the stomach issues, only to find that because of the prior operations he was not able to help and put her back in the queue. This happened two more times with much frustration, finally a surgeon accepted. Medical records were very complete, so how is it so much Dr. and patient time was wasted? After 26 months the chronic pain center called to deal with the MPS. What did the specialists have to say? The private clinic was doing everything the same as they would. Oh that evil private care!!
What is my point to the rambling? Private clinics are not an evil would best sum it up. The public sector has been broken for many years, politicians don't have the courage to make the necessary changes to provide proper health care. If you mention change people think the cost of quality health care will break them. If your not willing to change a system, it will never be fixed. Private clinics offer an option to those that are not happy with the status quo, providing a level of service that every Albertan should receive. Those content with the public delivered system can keep that option if they desire, I would rather see a privately delivered, publicly funded system. Especially seeing how good the Evil private care can be.
Rather than be angry with those supporting these private clinics, maybe it is time to take a hard look at the public system.
Now that Alberta and Canada have been facing the tough fiscal challenges, the ever so popular "Why can't we be more like Norway" mantra kicks into high gear. Economist Michael Campbell does a very good job at explaining it.
Yes my friends, I am sorry to burst your bitumen bubble.
Needless to say when I listened to the Premier of Alberta give her televised commercial trying to defend a Government budget based on winning an election, I was far from amused.
Since the release of the budget I certainly have not for a moment believed in the projected revenue numbers used to "balance" it. For a Government that relies so heavily on it's oil and gas revenues to use such rosy numbers, and account for spending 100% in their budget is ludicrous and irresponsible.
If we go back to the prices of our natural resources in the month (March 09,2012) of the budget natural gas was trading at $1.64 CAD/GJ yet the AB govt budget called for $3.00. According to their website " Every 10-cent drop in the price of natural gas over 12 months = $28 million less revenue." To meet those budget numbers gas would have had to increase 45%.
In Alberta we have different types of crude oil. We have Edmonton Light (conventional) and Western Canadian Select (Bitumen & Synthetic) which we get paid at a different price than the West Texas Intermediate we use in our budget. The forecast used was $99.25/bbl, again from the Govt. website "Every $1 drop in the price of oil over 12 months = $223 million less revenue."
Edmonton Par on 09-Mar-12 was trading at $85.45 CAD/bbl far from the $99.25 hoped for. In fact 14% less, talk about budgeting on hope.
The Western Canadian Select was trading at $75.10 again very far from the hopes of $99.25 in fact a differential of 29.4% not the bitumen bubble the government would like you to think exploded.
So lets think about this for a minute, did the government not know about this? Well their own website explains the dynamics fairly well with pictures so even I could understand it. Albeit they only give you a one year history to show the decline, here is a chart that shows that a wide spread in differential is nothing new.
So after my long rant on boring numbers I will leave you to decide, was the Government misleading on their campaign of promises, incompetent on budgeting, or just did not understand what differential was when they completed their budget? I don't have that answer, but none of the above are acceptable for Alberta.
The last few weeks we have been hearing endless chatter in Alberta regarding raising taxes to offset the resource revenue Alberta relies so heavily on to balance its budget.
In its recent release of the Alberta Government report "Dollars and Sense" the government surveyed Albertans with something that could be compared to a push poll. This was done in an attempt to justify to "borrow" and claim it is what Albertans want, although I am not sure why this was not part of their 2012 campaign.
“Albertans expect their government to plan for the future, and we will not let them down,we will balance the budget by 2013-14. And we will plan ahead.”
So in all fairness, neither of these promises are broken at this point. With Alberta sending out mixed messages one is left wondering if she was being honest or simply campaigning on election promises.
Alberta's Premier Alison Redford defends going into debt claiming the economy has changed since the election. While the economy may have been changing, for her to say no one saw it coming.... well this may be not be fully true. In fact it is not true at all.
This governing party was the ONLY party that found budget 2012 realistic. Lets look at the comments that were made when the budget was passed.
"I think positive and I think that's exactly where this budget is going and it's not only positive, but it's realistic and it's responsible,"
“Everyone knows that we’re going into an election campaign, and yet this is not a budget that is laying out a whole bunch of things the province can’t afford,”
It’s all “pipe dream projections” by an overspending government, the Wildrose Leader said.
“There’s no possible way that there is any validity to the projections,” said Ms. Smith
"These are fantasy land projections."
“With all the economic turmoil in the world, the premier’s revenue projections are completely unrealistic,” Sherman says.
"They're overly optimistic and very rosy about the income Alberta's going to get," said Liberal leader Raj Sherman.
"They have over-optimistic revenue projections, especially with regard to bitumen royalties and oil royalties, gas royalties, and they're draining another $4 billion out of the Sustainability Fund ," he said.
Canadian Tax Federation:
“Those are huge numbers,” said Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesman Scott Hennig. “The economy’s going to have to be very hot for those numbers to come true, and they’re well above what the private sector’s forecasting.”
Truly makes one wonder how this PC Government is the only one that didn't see this coming when Budget 2012 was dleivered. I think they did, but when it's election year the deceit is in full swing.
Once again we hear of how well the Redford government has done when it comes to transparency. Once again I feel it is more of the same. The Olympic junket has gone from a story of bolstering Alberta's presence on the world stage, to one of waste and hiding true costs of being represented.
Start in the beginning where the London trip was to cost taxpayers $84,000.00. People are skeptical of the cost and reasoning, but we give the benefit of the doubt, even as while they were there the $350,000.00 Merali scandal breaks. My reference to the AHS scandal will be understood later, it does pertain to the ranting. So we have our representatives at the Olympics, it ends and they come home. All good, and the cost of travel is released here. Perfect, a little over the announced budget for the trip we can live with it. Note that under receptions and hosting we rang up only a $719.17 tab, and nothing for incidentals and miscellaneous. All in for a total of $87,135.38 including the Premier, two ministers, and three staff. Excellent!
Whats that? Oh there were a few more costs? Well lets take a look at the FINAL Report for the London mission. Whoa, wait a minute here....another $431,144.57....HOLY S**T. Break it all down, it is ridiculous way of reporting to get a total of $518279.95. All of a sudden was another $70,851.00 in travel and accommodation for Government staff, Chef accommodations for $6480.00, $113,000.00 in UNUSED hotel, luncheons, dinners, and more travel and accommodation for performers.... Whats this I see at the bottom? It appears by reducing the size of delegation we should actually thank them for saving us $123,000.00. Not only does it appear ridiculous, it is. Listen to her pat herself on the back for a job well done.
As the story slowly drifts away and it becomes old news, all is forgiven right? What? There's more? Why that's impossible, we have the Final Report. Wait, there is how much more? Oh Darcy Henton, you torment me on the Friday before Thanksgiving. Another $400,000.00 you say? So I go to the Premiers communications for answers.
Phew...number is the same for Alberta Government spending. Wait, whats that? It's still government money?? Good grief, when does this post end.Just like AHS is to Alberta Health ministry, Travel Alberta is also an arms length crown corporation that also spent $400,000.00. What do they do? Well in their own words " Travel Alberta is the tourism marketing agency of the Government of Alberta that is governed by the Travel Alberta Act and a Board of Directors accountable to the Minister of Tourism, Parks and Recreation." Who is this Minister...of course...part of the Alberta Government delegation...Minister Cusanelli..
Here is a copy of a letter I sent to the editor of The Anchor:
To the Editor, Once again as an Alberta taxpayer I find myself disgusted
with the blatant mismanagement of our hard earned money. As if it wasn’t bad
enough in August when Finance Minister Doug Horner announced taxpayers could be
paying a $3 Billion deficit this year, there is no end in sight to the fiscal
mismanagement of this current government. Horner decided not to release details
of the budget update for us uneducated Albertans, saying to reporters “The
reality is if we have to do a technical briefing for you (reporter) folks, how
do we expect that Albertans are going to understand what I am telling them?”
Personally I am sick of this entitled government. In the
last couple months there was $350,000.00 in lavish expense claims by an Alberta
Health Services Executive exposed, over $2 million of money thrown away in
preliminary work on the cancelled police college in Ft. Macleod (not incl. any
monies paid back to the town), and the latest in the trough feed being the
$518,000.00 on the trip to the London Olympics that they claimed would be
around $80,000.00. Now I don’t disagree we need to promote the province,
certainly though the Government has a responsibility, no…an obligation, to
spend the taxpayer dollars efficiently. Of this half a million dollar trip to
the Olympics, 22% or $113,000.00 was spent on hotel rooms that were never used.
Without scrutinizing any other expense 22% is wasted money on absolutely
nothing, all the while Premier Redford is patting herself on the back claiming
she could have spent another $123,000 bringing more staff but didn't. I shake
Something has to change is all I know, as an Alberta
Taxpayer making $50,000 per year would pay $4002 per year in provincial income
tax. On waste alone on these three items, it would take the same taxpayer 615
years to pay this out, so to our Finance Minister Mr. Horner I question who
really understands the word budget.
I used to think I was Conservative. It has come to light since I do not support Bill 44 and never will I must bear the burden of this description and no longer be considered conservative. Although I do not know what it has to do with the Wildrose Alliance, I will wear it proud!
"The Alberta Altruist is nothing but a Liberal or worse. How is it conservative to have the nanny state raising our children? It just shows the hypocrisy of the Wild Rose Alliance. Also he should take an introductory political science class - there's party discipline in every party regardless of colour. Remember John Nunziata? I don't like Stelmach either but Altruist should go back to high school social studies class."