June 26th, 2019

Comparing approaches to spending oil revenues

By Letter to the Editor on December 15, 2018.

Re: “Cannot logically compare Alberta’s oil situation to Norway’s,” Dec. 7

Mike Somerville presented a well documented argument showing that Norway and Alberta are different. I have known, for years that Alberta and Norway are “apples and oranges.” The one thing Alberta had in common with Norway was that both were awash in oil.

But my letter was not comparing Alberta and Norway. Rather, I was comparing their respective approaches to savings and trust funds and their understanding of “good stewardship.”

Peter Lougheed, in my mind Alberta’s true statesman, established the Savings and Trust Fund in 1976. His idea was copied by, among others, Alaska and Norway. Looking back in 2012,he said “É the whole issue to me is that it is a depleting resource, and you had to manage the resource in a way of recognizing that with its depletion it would fade away.” Mr. Lougheed’s words continue:

Reporter: “The Heritage Fund, which you created and established, was at about $12 billion when you left office. (1985) It’s not a whole lot more than that today.

“Lougheed: “I think that’s one of the poorest management factors of the Klein administration, and I’ve been public about that. They didn’t put the money away the same way we didÉ” My point exactly!

If Alberta had followed Alaska’s example (putting 25 per cent of oil revenue into its fund), by 2011 Alberta’s Fund would have grown to $42 billion. By 2015 the actual funds were: Alaska $54 billion: Alberta $13 billion. This is scandalous. We have nobody to blame except our own voting history. Conservative governments from Don Getty on contributed to the present Alberta crisis.

Mr. Somerville also correctly claims that Alberta has contributed greatly to federal coffers. We have supported the other citizens of Canada significantly over the years, often without so much as a nod or a thank you. We have a right to be annoyed, and a right to demand support from the rest of Canada now, as Premier Rachel Notley is currently doing.

But Mr. Somerville, apart from inflating his numbers, fails to acknowledge that the money leaving Alberta represents personal federal income and other federal taxes, whose rates are determined by Ottawa budgets and applied to all Canadians. Is Mr. Somerville suggesting that Albertans should not be paying federal taxes? Good luck with that. Peter Lougheed would disagree. “Our party was very much involved with the position that we were Canadians before we were Albertans.”

So what does it mean to be an Alberta Conservative? Peter Lougheed? Jason Kenney?

Peter Mueller

Medicine Hat

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One Response to “Comparing approaches to spending oil revenues”

  1. Fedup Conservative says:

    Well said and as my senior friends and I say the fact is they are no longer true conservatives, they are Reformers and there is a huge difference. they are nothing like the conservatives under Lougheed and Getty who treated all Albertans with dignity and respect and ran this province properly. The Klein our family knew always bragged about being a Liberal, as history books prove. However he adopted the Reform Party policies when he took office and deliberately destroyed what Lougheed had created for us. It was obvious that he was trying to force Albertans into accepting a privatized health care and education system as many Albertans know. When he tried to force his Third-Way down our throats his supporters forced him into early retirement.

    Now we have Jason Kenney, another Liberal. He was Justin Trudeau’s right hand man Ralph Goodale’s assistant in the Liberal Party in Regina and like Klein has never been a true conservative. He has adopted the Reform Party policies and is making it crystal clear that he has no intention of being like Lougheed, or Getty. It’s all about looking after his rich friends, like Klein did, and forcing everyone else to pay a lot more. As some of my friends are saying a lot of these seniors who are so willing to support him could find themselves lining up at the food banks, or forced to move out of the province. A lot of seniors in Edmonton were forced to move to Saskatoon during the Klein and Stelmach administrations and it can certainly happen again. Why would you be willing to let him take our health care system away from the average Albertans and make it so his rich friends have first priority, as the doctors point out he is promising to do? Guess who will suffer the most, seniors of course..

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