A recent poll reports that 43 per cent of Albertans disapprove of the NDP government’s budget announcing a $6.1 billion deficit for 2015-16. At the same time, 55 per cent do not want cuts to capital spending and 49 per cent approve of the government’s plan to increase capital spending.
I interviewed Stephen Harper in the fall of 1991 as part of my doctoral research into the Reform party. Of all the things he said at that time, the comment that has stuck most with me was that it was undesirable for a governing party to garner more than optimum electoral support; beyond that meant it owed too much to too many voters.
Any proposal to increase the minimum wage by any amount in any province or territory seems to be met with dire warnings of massive job losses and impending economic doom. The problem for critics of the minimum wage is, neither history nor academic research backs these notions up.
Alberta is the richest jurisdiction in North America. But women living in the province are among the most disadvantaged in Canada, facing higher income gaps, unpaid work gaps, and after-tax income gaps than women living anywhere else in the country.
And despite the renewed and expanded commitments made in Canada to women’s equality in 1995, Alberta women’s equality has markedly deteriorated since then.
One day after International Women’s Day is the perfect time to ask why.
The Alberta government boasts in every budget that with its “Tax Advantage” program, Albertans pay the lowest taxes in Canada, and maybe even in North America. All personal and corporate incomes are taxed at a single 10-per-cent rate – except for small businesses, which pay a low 3-per-cent rate.
It’s curious how the proponents of the “cut first and ask questions later” approach to provincial budgeting continue trying to spread the myth Ralph Klein’s cuts in the 1990s were necessary, and that somehow Alberta and Albertans are better off because of them. It’s as if they believe that singing the same refrains over and over will make them true. But the reality is that these claims are as false today as they were back in 1993.
As Alberta’s economic engine falters, now is a good time to rethink the province putting all its eggs in bitumen’s basket.
When their crops failed, Alberta’s farmers had the pluck to persevere. There’s always next year. That resilience in the face of adversity served them well. But a next-year-country optimism is misplaced when applied to Alberta’s unconventional oil.
The recent capitulation of Danielle Smith and eight of her Wildrose party colleagues to the governing Progressive Conservatives can only be understood by decoding the meaning of conservatism in Alberta and the political purposes that construction serves.