Monday, August 31, 2009
The act for the sustainability fund is pasted below this blog. If you want to see the act for the Heritage Fund you can find it here. The problem I have as I delve into these two funds is the accountability gap between them.
The Heritage Savings Trust Fund was set up in 1976 by former Tory premier Peter Lougheed. The fund grew rapidly in the 70's boom, and the province was putting 30% of the Oil and Gas revenues into the pot. This carried on until the next Tory administration, led by Don Getty, started draining the revenues which were generated by billions of dollars in investments. This also carried on into the Klein era forcing the fund to remain stagnant. Lougheed recently announced his disappointment, and is pushing to breathe new life into the fund. I for one would have to agree with him, if my investment portfolio could not even keep up with inflation I would probably look for a new banker, or in this case a new government. Aimco took a beating with the fund and still doled out huge bonuses to their management, who will take accountability for it?
When Klein became premier in 1992 the Tory government chose not to build the fund in any significant way. Boom times returned to Alberta, and still no money was put aside in the Heritage Fund. Klein set up the Alberta Sustainability Fund which is simply a sub-account in the General Revenue Fund. Where this fund fails us is it may be drawn on by simply overestimating the resource revenue in a fiscal budget. This, as we have seen with the current budget, is very easily done. The part I have to disagree with is that they have already committed to using it for the following years as well instead of writing a realistic budget. The other issue I have is it states that if the fund is above $2.5 billion the excess may be transferred to the treasury board, with $14.5 billion dollars available and no accountable government there is no doubt in my mind this will be emptied in the next fiscal year. The way the GOA has patted themselves on the back for thinking they prepared for this moment is disgusting, they have done nothing outside of set up a fund to scratch their itch, not needing to be fully accountable for it. It has grown to a greater value than the Heritage Fund, which according to a March issue in Report on Business, could be worth $165 Billion dollars if they maintained Lougheeds policies.
After 15 years of mind boggling surpluses, we have $14.3 Billion in the Heritage Fund and $17 Billion less the $7 Billion deficit in the Sustainability Fund. This is of course if you believe the deficit will not be higher. Today's Aeco price for Alberta natural gas is $2.01/GJ, can you recall the price required from the fiscal update the other day?
Alberta Sustainability Fund
2.1(1) The Alberta Sustainability Fund is established as an account within the General Revenue Fund.
(2) Within the General Revenue Fund amounts may be allocated to and from the Alberta Sustainability Fund as follows:
(a) if for a fiscal year actual non-renewable resource revenue exceeds non‑renewable resource revenue for fiscal policy purposes, the difference must be allocated to the Alberta Sustainability Fund;
(b) amounts determined by the Treasury Board may be allocated to the Alberta Sustainability Fund;
(c) subject to subsection (3), if for a fiscal year actual non-renewable resource revenue is less than non-renewable resource revenue for fiscal policy purposes, the difference may be allocated from the Alberta Sustainability Fund;
(d) subject to subsection (3), if for a fiscal year
(i) actual non‑renewable resource revenue exceeds non‑renewable resource revenue for fiscal policy purposes, and
(ii) actual revenue excluding actual non-renewable resource revenue and any increase in revenue that funds an expense referred to in section 4(2)(b) is less than revenue for fiscal policy purposes excluding non-renewable resource revenue for fiscal policy purposes,
the difference referred to in subclause (ii), not exceeding the difference referred to in subclause (i), may be allocated from the Alberta Sustainability Fund;
(e) subject to subsection (3), amounts paid or payable for the cost of a public emergency or disaster declared by the Lieutenant Governor in Council may be allocated from the Alberta Sustainability Fund;
(f) subject to subsection (3), amounts paid or payable under the Natural Gas Price Protection Act may be allocated from the Alberta Sustainability Fund;
(g) subject to subsection (3), amounts paid or payable for the cost of a settlement with a First Nation may, with approval of the Lieutenant Governor in Council, be allocated from the Alberta Sustainability Fund.
(h) repealed 2008 c5 s4.
(2.1) Allocations under subsection (2)(a) and (b) may be adjusted due to the timing of when cash is received, changes in the net financial assets of Provincial agencies and regulated funds, capital cash requirements and other cash requirements as identified by the Treasury Board.
(3) The net assets of the Alberta Sustainability Fund may not be reduced to an amount less than zero.
(4) Subject to section 2, if the net assets of the Alberta Sustainability Fund exceed $2 500 000 000, the excess or any portion of it may be allocated by the Treasury Board from the Alberta Sustainability Fund.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I have to say it is about time Ed came to support Diane and her candidacy. Maybe he can explain to the constituency his tax and spend, spend, spend.....into a $7billion dollar deficit. He can focus on her being an alderman and promote her into the transportation ministry if voted in, but I for one will be pounding the reminder of his track record to date. While they are having their sit down maybe they can also let her know what she is allowed to say, it's not nice of Ed to shut her down after she tries to make a statement on behalf of her constituents, this needs to be nipped before. Then again she needs to learn to never question the boss, I am sure he will let her know.
Miracles never cease Ed is coming to town, maybe that was Elvis I saw at the 7-11.
Tomorrows post: Sustainability Fund-The reality of it.
Friday, August 28, 2009
Since releasing the budget it seems Ed is back to himself, tearing up yet another contract. Cutting the school budgets by $80million, this is not the contract but leads up. Ed Stelmach and the tory government signed a five year peace deal with the Alberta Teachers Association, which included a 5.99% wage increase. Since the new budget was released the contract is torn up cutting the increase to 4.82%. While I agree fiscally we have some hard choices to make, tearing up another contract is not an option. The ATA is vowing to head to court to uphold this. How can this government expect the ATA to make concessions after the raise the MLA's received in 2008? Ridiculous.
The repercussions of such a bold move will bite us as a province yet again. Ed & Company are confirming that the Alberta government does not honour it's contracts, not only with businesses but with it's own employees. Who would be ridiculous enough to believe this government would keep it's word on any deal it makes? I know this much, it will not be the investment community.
On the other front, Diane Colley-Urquhart says Ed & Company should revisit health care premiums. Whether or not you agree with this is not the point of this topic, the point is can Diane truly be able to represent her constituents. His response was "They're a tax," he curtly told reporters. "I said no tax increases." With the two going at odds already before the election is finished should be interesting. For the Premier to show the lack of interest in Diane's campaign as well as giving her the smack down right off the hop, even she can't be happy with him. This just shows a vote for the PC party will not take any constituency needs into consideration with a shut up and do as your told attitude.
On a positive note WRA released it's polling numbers:
When asked on August 26th “If the upcoming provincial by-election in Calgary Glenmore were held today, which provincial party would you vote for?” 19 % of respondents selected the Wildrose Alliance party, a 7% increase from a poll commissioned in late June.
Conversely, Ed Stelmach’s Progressive Conservative Party dropped 12% in voter preference while the number of voters indicating “Undecided” grew from 18% to 23%.
The ALP are holding their own at 23%.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Voters base their vote on what their party stands for, for example the P.C., WRA, Socred are all claiming to be conservative, yet in actuality they are all far from the representing same principles. Fiscal conservatism is a political phrase term used in North America to describe a fiscal policy that advocates a reduction in overall government spending. Fiscal conservatives often consider deficit and debt reduction, as well as balancing the budget of paramount importance. Free trade, deregulation of the economy, lower taxes, and other economically conservative or neoliberal policies are also often affiliated with fiscal conservatism.
"Liberalism holds that the only legitimate form of government is one that respects the liberty of its citizens, with open and fair elections, where all citizens have equal rights by law. Theories in support of economic liberalism were developed in the Enlightenment, and believed to be first fully formulated by Adam Smith which advocates minimal interference by government in a market economy, though it does not necessarily oppose the state's provision of a few basic public goods." How many of you knew this was the term?
Libertarianism is a term adopted by a broad spectrum of political philosophies which advocate the maximization of individual liberty and the minimization or even abolition of the state. Libertarians embrace viewpoints across that spectrum, ranging from pro-property to anti-property, from minarchist to openly anarchist. These are of course not what I have seen from Albertans that claim to be Libertarian. I would have to say here we are libertarian lite.
These only begin to touch on the various mixing of each label people have these days, which is why I believe a political label can confuse even the best of political minds. I have always considered myself to be a conservative, yet I go by Adam Smith and the invisible hand theory which is considered to be liberal. I would have to say almost every conservative I know believes in the open market, letting the market place set the prices and corrections needed. How very liberal of them indeed.
So in essence if you vote for the Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta, is it fair to say they would not be considered fiscal conservatives by definition? Is the Wildrose Party of Alberta conservative, I have talked to many in the higher end and party members that agree with the Adam Smith principles. How about the Alberta Liberal Party, they have criticized the PC's for the mismanagement of the budget and for running a deficit. This is a conservative way of thinking, what exactly is going on here?
In the end does the labels of the past apply to the parties of today, or does a party simply embrace a label whether it truly stands for it or not? From a personal perspective I believe that each party will posture themselves to what their interpretation of what the voters want, which is why you see today's ALP swinging right to try and garner more of the "conservative vote".
What does it take to win an election in Alberta? Does anyone read policies? Do we vote on the political branding? Do we only change when we are totally pissed off with the current government, or do we just give up and not bother to vote? Looking at past governments in Alberta before the PC dynasty when change came in it was not foreseen by the governing party. Alberta is unique in the fact most of the 26 Albertan general elections held as of 2006 have resulted in overwhelming majorities for the governing party, a trend unseen in any other province in Canada. No minority government has ever been elected in Alberta, nor has any minority ever been brought about due to by-elections or floor crossing.
All said and done this does not mean the PC party should have a false sense of security. Just because the past has not seen these changes happen, they easily could. The by-election will have a new MLA, and the party may have the momentum and will to form a new government. I have been told numerous times by PC MLA's it takes money to win elections, and I wonder if another party has the funds there, could the change come? Either way if the current government is forced back in line it is just as much a win, providing members truly just want good government. A strong opposition party is needed in any government to keep things in check. I believe the WRA is the best choice for government or at a minimum official opposition.
One of my favorite quotes as of late happens to be by Danielle Smith "It’s not the members who have left the P.C. party, it’s the P.C. party that has left its members." This is something they need to address if they want to carry on.
Note: These are the definitions for the labels I have found on the Internet, since no one could pinpoint on labels, I have chosen to go with these. Give your thoughts.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The deficit though is not something anyone is laughing at. Listening to Iris Evans today at her press conference was...well...awful to say the least. While giving her spiel on how this happened she was almost able to make it sound rational. Then came the questions from Jim. For anyone who listened you could hear the displeasure in her voice on being questioned. If you missed it you can hear it here.
He asked about the sustainability fund, she replied they would not run it out, a few questions later she says worse case scenario it would be drawn to zero.
She contradicts herself many times more, and claims no fault of the party. How could she dare claim this after having a PC run government for almost half a century! They want to make 2.4 billion in cuts, I guess so! How about these:
- 2 billion dollars for CCS, this could wait we don't have the money
- Roll MLA wages back to pre 2008 levels (give back your huge raises)
- Eliminate the NRF, we are collecting less now than with the old regime, with the price levels where they are at. Not only that, it would restore some confidence and make Alberta more competitive once prices rebound.
Here is your 2.4 Billion plus. Here is some of the mismanagement as well as problems with their budget update:
- $4.00/gjl gas needed to meet the budget update. I am not sure if they know we are only at half of that price right now. Our storage is at capacity and all produced gas will need to be sold on the spot market driving the prices down further yet. There will be no price recovery until the surplus is spent, with all the prolific wells brought on this will not be near term.
- Land sale income will be near non-existent even when the Oil and Gas pricing returns. Punitive royalties will eliminate drilling in our depleting basins as oil companies will be looking to develop newer basins.
- Double digit spending increases per year far exceeding the rate of growth and GDP.
- Have not adjusted the budget for corporate income tax collected in Alberta. With the slowdown and layoffs, this shows businesses are hurting. Most businesses will post losses this fiscal year erasing government income, as well as carry them forward into the next year.
- Will draw down the sustainability fund to 9 Billion from 16 Billion by December.
- Paid teachers pension unfunded liability of $8.6 billion. This was not taxpayer responsibility. This alone would have covered the deficit.
- Have done nothing to address the Health Care shortfall and make the required reforms to ensure it is stable. Many ideas have been presented that would raise the quality of care, ensure quicker access, as well as ensure it is stable for years to come. The only option they have looked at is wage cuts and cuts to service. This is an essential service for Albertans, they need to deal with the issues instead of worrying about the sugar coating to present it. 35 years of this is enough.
- In giving themselves a huge raise they made it almost impossible to expect the civil sector represented by unions to make any concessions. It is hard to argue they deserve a raise while our grassroots workers take the hit.
- Travel costs for government has hit ridiculous levels, they addressed this by saying it has to be approved now. Was it not before? Ed keeps talking about the importance of this for recognition in the international market, yet we are way down the list since he became premier as a good place to invest. Ed please quit helping.
I could go on and on, but most of us already know these facts. We have the right to be pissed, and I for one am. I am on board for Sending a Message to Ed. I hope at the leadership review his caucus will speak as well. Contact your local PC MLA and let's see if they will be a voice for us at the leadership review, or if they are content with the status quo. This is the time for us to have a voice, and a time for them to not fear repercussions, and restore the faith in their constituency.Did I miss anything? Please feel free to add on in the comments, when I approach my MLA I will make a list and ensure he knows which way I want him to vote at the leadership(haha) review.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
One item and of all things to bring up "Managing The Economy". (I wouldn't have touched this one if I was her)
Her commitment stating she will bring the skills and determination to be a strong voice for Calgary. My question is where is she going to have a strong voice? In caucus, or in the actual legislature? We all know what happens when you speak out. So she will in fact have laryngitis, not her choice.
The one thing she was right on, and I quote "Managing the economy during these tough and turbulent economic times calls for skilled and experienced leaders."
I am not positive but I believe she is talking about Paul Hinman and his experience as MLA for Cardston, Taber, Warner. to help the Glenmore residents through these troubled times.
UPDATE: I have ordered "The Kit" for Diane
Many of you may not share the humour with me, but come on, the Liberal Party criticizing excessive spending of the conservatives, thats hilarious. Never dreamed I would see the day, it is also well deserved. Even the left is coming from the right of Ed's crew.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Daveberta had an excellent post today showing how ridiculous the PC government has been this year in many areas, and surprisingly Ed is no where to be found. Cory Morgan provides insight into how often Ed is surprised. The response to the posts from anonymous PC backers show they can do nothing but try and discredit any other party, obviously embarrassed. I feel embarrassed for them as well, it is not often in Alberta anyone from the PC party has had to hide their head in shame. Why even Ed must feel this way, as he has been basically unseen or heard in quite some time.
For me the fiscal update comes as no surprise that it may be much higher, in June I figured the deficit would more likely be around the $7 Billion dollar mark (although I wish it was on the +). Once again the PC party will come out as shocked at these numbers, leaving the burden on the backs of Albertans to pay for their incompetence. The money we as taxpayers give the government is paid to them in trust that they will spend it wisely, making every dollar go as far as it possibly can. An increase in wages for MLA's and this government for mismanagement is far from this, in fact this is the exact thing the shareholders of public companies are demanding their boards be held responsible for, as should we. Accountability here is a must.
Many Albertans write it off quite easily blaming the sharp decrease in commodity prices, and the recession. This is not acceptable, we rely on their knowledge and foresight. They were not out only $8billion, this is just the deficit, they predicted an $8billion dollar surplus. For those of you smart enough, you can add the numbers, as for me eight plus eight equals stupidity!
BTW: Eight Billion is my guess and not yet confirmed. Either way it will be a huge deficit.
UPDATE: The deficit was only 6.9 Billion so far. It will top 8 billion easily. My next post points out why. Ridiculous
Sunday, August 23, 2009
I have not been blogging very long, but since I started I was labeled in comments as a right wing extremist for supporting the WRA, recently to being a lefty for my views on bill 44, either one I am fine with. The Enlightened Savage, in a brilliant post, asked the viewers of his blog their definition of what a conservative is. I responded in agreeing to his definition, but showed where the interpretation came into play. Unfortunately the majority of posts could only comment on what they do not consider conservative, could this just simply be that people do not know what a con is? While easy for a conservative to condemn anything you don't agree with as left, who decides what is actually to the right? Is there really voter apathy or confusion on which label to take on? Does anyone really look at the policy and platform? Most people in my circle do not even care about politics, and have voted PC because they live here in AB and were taught to think this way.
Labels seem to be confusing to most people, as I have witnessed in comment sections on many blogs. If I am too far right to some and too far left to others I would ask if this would put me center? Do people vote for the PC party in Alberta because they have the label conservative in their name, not having a clue what it really means, just not wanting to be labeled a Liberal? I would love to see Daveberta ask the question about the ALP and NDP and see if they know what it means to be left. Throw in the Libertarian label and your all over the spectrum.
In Alberta since the NEP, Liberal passed down through the generation has been taboo here. Could the tides turn with Special Ed and his NRF, making conservative the same way? After all he crushed the energy sector and mismanaged our finances. To me a label means absolutely nothing, left or right, center to Libertarian, good government is all I expect and want. No party will have all the same views in one package as I see things, but the WRA has set a new bar, promoting free votes in the legislature. To me this is as close to real democracy as we will ever come, and with all the members I have met there is every label you could imagine involved. The most intriguing thing is they are all wanting the same thing that has been missing here in our province, competent and responsible government, advocated on behalf of the constituents. None of which is allowed in the legislature by the PC, Liberal or NDP parties for far too long. Whether I am conservative or not, this is the party I feel most in line with.
In short the only "label" I care about has a Xtra-Large double double attached to it. On the political side, no label, just sending a message to Ed.
This is all I have to say on conservatism and have wasted way too much time spamming myself. I will continue to post your comments, but will not debate myself , only answer intellegent questions or conversation.
Friday, August 21, 2009
If you could go to this post at E.S. and give some feedback I would also like to see what the general view is, so don't be shy make a post and lets see what the degrees are. Try to keep this non-party and your personal views, would like to see where the common ground ends.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Here are some links on the by-election:
Calgary Rants, Enlightened Savage, Jane, Brian Dell, and Blogged Down in Calgary.
It has been a long summer with very little political excitement so this by election is going to overtake the local blogging community. With each right leaning party believing they will take the by-election it comes down to the voters and who they believe deserves their vote. I have stated my opinions on Dianne, but I don't think I crossed any lines by making it personal. She is running for politics so she better get tough skinned and stop her crying about the name calling, because it doesn't matter who you are, some will just not like you.
The other point I would bring up is who the WRA members are, we at one time were avid PC party supporters with many of us involved deeply within the party. Now because we think the PC party has strayed from it's core values we are a bunch of right wing loonies? Good luck with this one, we are the same people who helped many of PC members get elected in the past, so don't be too quick to discredit the very people who helped build the PC party. The biggest problem with the PC party is their leader as well as the direction he has led this party. Had my guy won I don't think many of the WRA supporters would have to be opposing the PC machine today. I have talked to many PC MLA's who openly have said their is only about 12 blue conservative MLA's in the party and the rest are purple and red. Not good enough for me.
The WRA has been re-vamped from the 2008 elections and we have built solid policies and are building on our solid conservative members. The changes reflect what mainstream Alberta wants and needs because they are the ones who build our policies, grassroots baby! PC brass and avid supporters can write us off if they choose, we are no longer the conservative alternative, this time we won't split the vote we are determined to take it no matter the outcome of the by-election.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
As per usual I filled up on Calgary Rants blog by Shane. I enjoy this blog and read it frequently, today I am wondering if the media likes Dianne. According to Shane who attended Diannes press conference yesterday, there were a half dozen MLA's and 30-40 supporters present (read it here), yet the Calgary Herald reported seven MLA's present but only about a dozen supporters (here). If we put Shane and the support staff into the equation this would only leave a few actual supporters. I don't think Shane would fatten the numbers which leads me to wonder why there is such a difference.
On the Alliance front they had numerous volunteers out placing signage and campaigning door to door. Seems like they almost knew when the writ would be dropped, showing they are indeed more organized than in 2008. While driving around I couldn't help but notice nothing about the NDP and Liberal parties. Are they ready for this by election or is it not a priority? Health care and the economy will top the issues the candidates are faced with, Dianne and Avalon both have a medical background so this should be good. Paul has the experience of being an MLA as well as a party leader who understands government workings, he will surely challenge them with his knowledge across the board. Hopefully a debate is in the cards.
The Alliance and the Liberal both seem to be using this election as a statement to Ed that people are not happy with the current government. A summertime by election could be just the thing to achieve this as I think more of the discontent voters will show up. Hopefully the residents vote on who will serve their interests the best, and speak out for them in the legislature not in caucus. Whoever wins will send the message. Even if I was still a PC supporter I could not support Dianne, heres why. I think it is time to send the big parties in general a message that the party whip, or not being free to represent your constituency in the legislature will no longer be tolerated. This is why we choose a candidate, something the "Big Three" seem to have forgotten.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Ministry of Finance- here, here, and here
Health and Wellness- here and here
Culture and Community Spirit- Here and Here
Children and Youth Services- Here
Premier- Too many to list
Now I can't say for sure that another party would do better or not once in power, but I can't believe many could do much worse. Since the election and prior there has been blunder after blunder. In fairness now with the recession any party would have their hands full, this unfortunately is the time we need government to step up and show competence. Maybe in Red Deer at the PC leadership review this will be addressed, it is the once chance what is left for conservatives in the party to speak out. (only because it is secret ballot) I won't hold out hope as there is alot of red and purple taking over this party.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
You always hold out hope that the PC party will get back to their conservative roots, a change from within obviously is not really in the cards. Here are the comments from her blog:
"In response to the Pembina Institute, carbon capture and the heavy investments made by our provincial government and the feds is critical to reducing our carbon footprint and extracting more oil and gas from the ground."
2 billion of your taxpayer dollars dished out to a company of the GOA's choice? I think some one will surely benefit from this one. Pembina Institute and extracting more oil and gas from the ground in the same sentence? Seems she has a long way to go. Her involvement in the AHRC doesn't appeal to me either, though I am not too sure why she would resign once nominated as a PC candidate, maybe deep down she knows they are an unnecessary evil.(I doubt this since she was a director) Finally eliminating the comments on her blog seems to me like she is not willing to discuss the topics any longer if there can be proof on what she says. My comments are open to all and I do not erase them, unless the language is obscene. People have the right to their views and opinions here, as do I. My biggest problem with Dianne though is holding down a city position of alderman while campaigning for the PC Party. She is already paid to do this job full time so either resign as you did with the HRC or do the job you already pledged to do on behalf of your constituents. If elected as MLA will you do this again if a better opportunity comes along? Nice to have a fall back position.
I don't know Dianne personally but from my perspective she seems to like to have her cake and eat it too.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Monday, August 10, 2009
How these arrogant people can dare to demand more while many other hard working people in our province have lost their jobs is impossible for me to comprehend. The unions had their place back when people were being exploited, but now we as taxpayers are the ones being exploited. Union workers make a premium wage at nearly 19% higher than the same position that is non-union. The government needs to step up and change the unions compensation as they are working for us the taxpayers. We have all had to deal with pay decreases, why should these be different, they get the increases with inflation so why not decreases with deflation? It is not to say they are unskilled or easily replaced but we also should not be held for ransom by these unions, the more we can rid ourselves of them the better.
Take the Toronto garbage strike, taxpayers pay their wages and they want to strike. The city should have immediately hired out to a privatized company, the union should not have been empowered but broken down.
There are plenty of unemployed people who would gladly go to work, especially for the wages union employees received. It is time to stop playing politics with these unions, government still needs to run like any other business. In most small business if an employee is sick they take the time off they need, in unions they are entitled to minimum sick days that they can accumulate and be paid out for, why not just call them what they are HOLIDAYS. There are thousands looking for work as we saw at the Balzac mall job fair. I have to stop now before I have a coronary (I won't bother to call 911), or wear out my keyboard in anger.
If you don't like your job quit and let someone else enjoy it, that's the way the rest of us live!
Saturday, August 8, 2009
There isn't much more to say on this one. The Alberta government wanted to slow down the overheated economy, well congratulations. I know why don't we set the pace for oilsands development too, there's another good idea. Only in Alberta could a government be surprised. Time for a change, especially when we were already way over the unemployment rate at the time they made their predictions. Typical.
Friday, August 7, 2009
This is no surprise with the commodity prices for oil and gas sinking. The hardest hit area is Grande Prairie climbing to 8.4% and I don't think that we are yet in recovery here in our province. Will we hit the 10% mark by the end of summer, only time will tell but if our provincial government doesn't release some type of meaningful security for our energy sector soon I easily see us hitting this mark. Granted the price of natural gas will need to recover as well, but we need all the stars to align if we are going to have any type of a sector left.
The scary part for me is we had a lot of labour which moved back to their home provinces, and many people working as consultants who are not eligible for EI not included in this. This would bring the rate much higher than it is. The huge layoffs will come this fall if the prices do not show a sign of recovery, and by the time it makes it's way through to the other industries supported by this sector this will make even my estimate look rosy. Sadly I do not know anyone in our province that could survive off the benefits EI pays. For the hundreds of thousands of people collecting them tough choices will be made on mortgage or food as both would be impossible. It may serve the provincial government well to start looking at affordable housing sooner than later.
With all the suffering in our province, I hope the elected officials are enjoying their big fat pay increases as surely they deserved them. As for the competitiveness review, save the money, we've already have been told by our investors we aren't. What will we get out of spending a pile of money reviewing it besides further behind. It saddens me that while so many Albertans are losing their livelihood these were the priorities at the legislature in the last session.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
When the budget was done $5.50/gigajoule was used for the average. Prices on Alberta's spot market have dropped to around $2.80/gigajoule and could slip under the $1 mark by mid-August, according to Bill Gwozd with the Ziff Energy Group. If this is true and every 10-cent drop in the price of natural gas over one year translates into a $126-million hit to the treasury we as a province are in for a world of hurt. The natural gas sector contributed $5.8 billion in government royalties in 2008-09, safe to say we will be no where near this.
Inventories in the United States hit three trillion cubic feet the third week of July, about 19 per cent higher than the five-year average, and the highest level since 1994. This will leave Alberta natural gas drilling virtually non existent in the near term, driving the taxes that would have been collected via income tax from both individuals and business also considerably lower. The indirect jobs supported by this industry are also hurt, hotels, restaurants, manufacturing, house sales, etc, etc, etc. How much, this is a number I would love to find out, even the government who relies heavily on this income can not answer this question.
Normally I would be all over the royalty fiasco for the problems in the energy sector, but right now pricing is the issue. I don't believe in subsidizing the industry, but I also do not believe in penalizing it. It will take years before we see the highs in natural gas pricing we have seen in the past so our province best get used to it. With our neighbors to the east and west of us cashing in on the jobs instead of the royalty income, our government will have to come up with a solution to their share of the problem they created themselves, before our jobs are completely bled away.
So here's the billion dollar question, how high will our deficit soar?
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
While looking over my notes I couldn't help but laugh at the issues brought up with each. I myself have painted the picture of a liberal (Danielle), a separatist (Mark), and a loony (Jeff).
It may not seem like a big deal to myself simply because I know all of the individuals quite well and know what their greater qualities are. From someones point of view outside of the party it may look inconceivable to gain credibility with these candidates, to be sure nothing is farther from the truth. We as a party truly are lucky to have them running for leadership. As for the clowns (as Leigh states), no party is without them including the PC's . Unfortunately you can't turn them away, but distancing their propaganda from the party seems like a rational move needed.
I think enough time has been spent on attacking credibility, which no candidate is innocent of either, and concentrate on the issues that will make the difference. If you have the time to show up and listen here is the debate schedule, get involved and draw your own conclusions.
There are four Leadership debates scheduled and follow up on the 12 Townhalls the Party held this spring to engage and listen to Albertan’s concerns.
September 8 7:30pm at the Grande Prairie Inn, 11633 - 100 Street Grande Prairie Phone: 780-532-5221
September 10 7:30pm at the Four Points Sheraton, 7230 Argyll Road Edmonton Phone: 780-465-7931
September 15 7:30pm at the Balog Cow Palace, Lethbridge Just south of highway #4 on the east side of Lethbridge Phone: 403-320-1980
September 16 7:30pm at the Blackfoot Inn, 5940 Blackfoot Trail SE Calgary Phone: 1-800-661-1151
If you have any questions that you would like answered by them, let me know and I will try to get them answered, also I will try and post more relevant information in the future and less time being critical (even though it is more my style), well except for Jeff as even I have to have some fun.
UPDATE: There is another forum added. It will be in Red Deer, AB at the Capri Inn 7:30 pm on Sept 23, 2009