Hello Chestermere! It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in our little city. I love the way the lake, and the park light up at night with all the Christmas lights. It has been such a mild winter that so many of us have been able to enjoy the evenings and it is wonderful to see the residents out and about enjoying the season. We have been seeing a slight rebound in our economy, and even though our economy has little resemblance to what it looked like in the past, we have to be grateful for these small triumphs. This is because the people of Alberta are strong and resilient, and despite bad policy, and years of mismanagement of our fiscal spending, we can breathe a little and hope for the best. Here is an interesting piece of the puzzle. Do you remember that pesky little thing called the carbon tax? Well the government is using the rising retail numbers and other modest growth as a platform to support their policies. Here is a fun fact. New car dealers are showing an increase in sales and by the same token, gasoline sales are up 10 percent. I find it interesting that the carbon tax which is supposed to change our behavior, and gain social license has had no impact on our gas usage, and certainly not on our GHG’s. We are still at 7.8 percent unemployment, which is quite high as compared to the Canadian average of 6.2 percent. We are not going to see our numbers rebound to where they were before.
Let’s talk about pipelines. The Premier is speaking out about pipelines. This is good. I’m not sure about how you feel, but as we said in the legislature, we are tired of being a doormat. It is very easy to say that you are going to stand up for the province, and stand up for pipelines, but we need more than lip service. Albertans are waiting to see some true movement on the issue.
We have been pushing this Government from the beginning about pipelines, and my concern is that it may be too little too late. As Vivian Krause, in her blog “Fair Questions” has stated, groups like the Tides foundation and other environmental activists supported with American dollars have created this pipeline phobia in the media. The voices of reasonable, hard-working Albertans have been drowned out. The strategy is to and I quote “land lock the tar sands so that their crude cannot reach the international market” (Corporate Ethics, strategic advisors to Environmental campaigns). We like every other province have the right to have access to tidewater to compete in the global market.
We are losing up to $50 million every day due to lack of market access. This is the message that the industry is delivering, why is our Premier not stating these facts? She finally stated what was being said all along, that including downstream emissions in evaluating pipelines is an unacceptable overreach of the Federal government.
I would like to speak about the latest and greatest credit downgrade. We are borrowing to keep the lights on, and the government is showing few signs that it will let up. There have been no real changes to their spending. Ironically, when in Opposition the NDP railed against our reliance on oil prices and now they are totally dependent on higher oil prices to bail them out. Magically, oil prices are the catalyst that keeps their heads above water. We are well on our way to a $90+ BILLION debt folks, and this is no joke. The Government at this point has shown they are incapable of coming up with any real methods to control spending and bringing the province back to balance. We are at a spending cliff, we are holding on for dear life and the most concerning aspect is our Finance Minister could not answer a simple question: How are you going to repay this debt? Praying for higher oil prices is not a policy, it is a wish. Otherwise, as the minister admitted in his scrum last week, the government either has to raise taxes, or cut $3.5 billion dollars. They raised personal income taxes, and revenue went down. They raised corporate income taxes and revenue went down. How well is their tax happy policy working? But he says, “not to worry”. I don’t know about you, but I am worried. The end result of this Government’s inaction will be budgets dictated by Wall Street, not by the needs of Albertans.
Finally I would like to thank the Recreation Centre for the lovely Christmas celebrations this past weekend. Thank your for inviting my family to celebrate and sing with yours. As always seeing our little ones come out and make decorations, sing, and get in the Christmas spirit makes our hearts happy. As always, we love to hear from you.