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?
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