By Heather Forsyth
Is anyone else experiencing déjà vu?
It wasn’t long ago Alison Redford was warning us about a “Bitumen Bubble,” talking up new taxes, and complaining her government wasn’t making enough revenue to balance the books or avoid new debt.
Now, Premier Jim Prentice is talking about a “Price Trough” in oil, and he’s using it as an excuse to openly muse about increasing the price of everything for Alberta families.
Indeed, Premier Prentice is considering destroying what’s left of the Alberta Advantage by bringing in a sales tax, increasing income tax rates, returning health premiums and even implementing pop and gasoline taxes.
Despite the fact he swore new taxes were off the table when he ran for the leadership of the PC Party, Premier Prentice has opened the door to some dangerous precedents that are patently un-Albertan.
This government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem, and in these tough economic times, its important Premier Prentice understand this before he makes any brash decisions that will cause harm to Alberta.
The PCs couldn’t balance the books with $120 oil, and they won’t be able to with $50 oil. The problem here isn’t the price of oil. Oil prices are cyclical. They go up and down. The waste around here, however, goes on forever.
Just last month my Wildrose colleagues and I took the government to task after we learned they spent $1 million on a Zamboni garage for a public skating rink that never got built. They built the garage, but not the rink. The garage, they say, will be used as a toolshed now.
This is sheer incompetence.
Before that, we sounded the alarm when we discovered Premier Prentice decided not to expand the government’s salary disclosure policy to all government Agencies, Boards and Commissions. Shortly thereafter, we discovered more than 10,000 employees at Alberta Health Services are earning more than $100,000 per year.
We also recently called on the government to sell the Federal Building, the palace built for PC MLAs complete with the Premier’s penthouse suite, rooftop garden and movie theatre. This would save taxpayers almost half a billion dollars.
We’ve also called for an MLA wage rollback. The PCs, if you remember, voted themselves a raise, right after the last election.
But is Premier Prentice willing to look himself in the mirror to find savings, or will he pass it all on to the taxpayer? The first choice is more likely. Remember, Premier Prentice himself spends more than $4.3 million annually on salaries for his inner circle in Edmonton.
Now, Premier Prentice is considering breaking his own government’s fixed election law, and calling an illegal, expensive election, one year early, just to ensure the PCs remain in power.
This is not the kind of thing the government should be focusing on right now.
Premier Prentice needs to get serious about the economy, and stop musing about the idea of new taxes while he continues to waste hundreds of millions of dollars on things such as MLA offices, corporate welfare and political salaries.
Until then, Wildrose remains the only party in Alberta committed to not raising your taxes. Alberta deserves a government willing to spend wisely, cut waste and save for the future, but Premier Prentice will go the other direction and ask families to pay for the mistakes of his party, before he asks anything of himself or his friends in government.
Wildrose has had a challenging few months, but I’m proud to say our mission continues. Our team has continued to do great work protecting Alberta families from this PC government.
That will never change.