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Post-mortem on the 2020 Alberta Budget

Alberta’s Budget 2020, delivered February 27th by Travis Toews, Treasury Board President and Minister of Finance, comes at an interesting time. The recent withdrawal by Teck of its Frontier oilsands mine application and the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision on the federal carbon tax have added more uncertainty to both the political and economic environment. Falling oil prices and financial markets have added to the gloom. The UCP government’s fiscal austerity goals are resulting in push-back from various quarters, including not-for-profit and labour sectors.

With its release on Thursday, the political struggle begins to gain support from the public for the budget’s merits or its harm. In a polarizing climate, the public is looking for relevant, informed debate, which this forum will provide.

Join us for this conversation which brings together a range of diverse perspectives to help understand major initiatives contained in this budget. Perspectives from education, labour, business, economics, political science, urban municipalities, and media will be aired at this important event.

RSVP on Eventbrite

Co-sponsored by Parkland Institute; the Economics Society of Northern Alberta; and Policy Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Alberta.

About the Panelists

Ricardo Acuña has been Executive Director of the Parkland Institute since May 2002.  He has a degree in Political Science and History from the University of Alberta, and is a regular speaker to students, teachers, and community groups around Alberta on numerous topics including Alberta politics, public policy, citizenship and democracy, the provincial economy, energy policy, gender justice, and international development. He is a regular media commentator on public policy issues, and formerly wrote a regular column on provincial affairs for VueWeekly in Edmonton.

Laurie Adkin is a political economist and professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. Her main areas of research and teaching are political ecology, the populist radical right in Europe, and Alberta politics. Since 2002, she has studied the formation of climate change policy in Alberta and Canada. She is the author of Politics of Sustainable Development: Citizens, Unions, and the Corporations (1998), and editor and co-author of Environmental Conflict and Democracy in Canada (2009), and First World Petro-Politics: The Political Ecology and Governance of Alberta (2016). Her recent work has focused on the political ecology of knowledge production in Alberta’s universities and on innovation policy and discourse as responses to the global climate crisis.

Akanksha Bhatnagar is the President of the University of Alberta Students' Union. She has also served as the 2018/19 Vice-President Academic, and SU Governance Officer. As President, she represents 30,000 undergraduates internally on campus at the General Faculties Council and the Board of Governors. Additionally, she represents students externally with the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), a provincial lobby group representing 100,000 students across Alberta

Nicole Martel is Executive Officer, Policy and Advocacy, at the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association. Before joining the AUMA, Nicole spent three and half years with the Government of Alberta as the Senior Director of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, managing a variety of small business supports and grants. Prior to her work with government, Nicole served as the Executive Director for the Urban Development Institute of Alberta from 2007 to 2013, representing the land development industry at the provincial level. She studied at the University of Alberta attaining Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Political Science. After her education, she pursued a number of different career paths in business, politics and government relations. Her past roles include being a policy analyst with Alberta Municipal Affairs and the Manager of Government Relations for EPCOR.

Carman McNary serves as Counsel at Dentons’ Edmonton office, where his practice focuses primarily on taxation and corporate law. He has been immersed in Canada’s intricate taxation world for more than 35 years, earning a stellar reputation as one the country’s leading authorities on tax compliance and dispute resolution with government agencies, as well as on corporate tax strategies, structures and governance of tax risk. In addition, he is highly regarded as one of Edmonton’s top lawyers on corporate Board strategy, providing strategic counsel to a wide range of prestigious local, provincial and national Boards and organizations. He is a prominent member of the Board of numerous private corporations, authorities and not-for-profit organizations in Alberta.

Sheila Pratt is a long-time newspaper journalist covering politics, the energy sector and environmental policy from Edmonton, Alberta. She is a contributor to iPolitics and is a weekly panelist on Alberta Prime Time.

Katherine (Kate) White is an economist with expertise in fiscal policy, public finance and senior public sector leadership. Kate has formerly held the positions of Assistant Deputy Minister for Economics and Fiscal Policy with the Government of Alberta as well as Chief Economist, Deputy Chief Economist and Senior Policy Advisor, all with Alberta Treasury Board and Finance. She has also formerly held positions at Alberta Municipal Affairs and Alberta Sustainable Resource Development. Most recently, Kate held the position of Deputy Minister of Finance and Secretary to Management Board with the Government of Yukon.

Bob Ascah (Moderator) is currently Principal at Abpolecon.ca. He holds degrees in Commerce and Public Administration from Carleton University and completed his Ph.D. in political science at the University of Alberta in 1984. In 1984, he joined Alberta’s public service moving to Alberta Treasury in 1986 where he was responsible for financial sector policy, foreign borrowing, and liaison with credit rating agencies.  In 1996, he joined Alberta Treasury Branches becoming responsible for government relations, strategic planning, and economic research.  From August 2009 to September 2013 he was Director of the Institute for Public Economics at The University of Alberta. He is currently editing a book on a sales tax for Alberta to be published by Athabasca University Press in 2020.

Photo credit: Government of Alberta under a Creative Commons license.