Stelmach just like Getty

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach appears to be trying to make his mark in the world by undermining everything accomplished by his predecessor, Ralph Klein.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach appears to be trying to make his mark in the world by undermining everything accomplished by his predecessor, Ralph Klein.

As if spending like a drunken sailor and chalking up the province’s first deficit budget in 16 years weren’t enough, on Monday Steady Eddie made it clear that Alberta is back in the business of being in business.

Yes, in case you haven’t heard, the province has taken a 15 per cent stake in a private firm, Precision Drilling Trust, at a cost of $380 million.

It’s as if the bad old days of corporate welfare under then-premier Don Getty never really went away. Getty was premier from 1985 to 1992, following in the large footsteps of Peter Lougheed.

For some inexplicable reason, Stelmach finds it necessary to pick winners and losers in the current troubled economy.

So he’s bailing out Precision Drilling but letting countless mom and pop operations — restaurants, retail stores, etc. — go down the tubes.

Yet, don’t those businesses also pay taxes?

And what’s going to happen when Precision’s oilpatch competitors cry foul, as they like will? Will Stelmach open up the provincial purse to them, too?

If he does, he’ll be taking a page straight out of Getty’s playbook.

The former Edmonton Eskimos quarterback made big loan guarantees to Husky Oil ($380 million) and Syncrude ($200 million).

Plus, he provided a $55-million loan guarantee and a $20-million loan to Peter Pocklington’s Gainers meat-packing plant. Pocklington later defaulted on the loan and the government eventually closed the plant.

Deals the province made back then with NovaTel, a cellular subsidiary of Alberta Government Telephones, cost taxpayers more than $600 million.

Today Klein is remembered as the premier who slew the deficit while Getty is known for overseeing, in Klein’s words, a province with “a spending problem.”

It’s amusing to note that Health Minister Ron Liepert says the province can’t afford to provide Albertans with a fitness tax credit, but somehow there’s enough money in the kitty to bail out an oil company and give MLAs pay hikes of up to 34 per cent.

Stelmach describes himself as a leader, but where is he leading us?

He’s taking us back to the bad old days of Getty, and we ought not to go in that direction.

Plenty of Alberta vehicles used to be adorned with bumperstickers that said: “Please God, give me another oil boom and I won’t piss this one away.”

Stelmach is pissing our prosperity away.

Lee Giles is an Advocate editor.

Just Posted

UPDATED: Lee seeks UCP nomination in Red Deer

Eyes Red Deer-North constituency

Updated Red Deer smoke free bylaw to ban smoking cannabis in public

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Red Deer city council considers new business licence bylaw

All businesses operating in the City of Red Deer will require a… Continue reading

Saskatchewan farmer’s death triggers emotional harvest of love and respect

MILESTONE, Sask. — Volunteers have rallied to harvest the large wheat crop… Continue reading

Councillors want to represent Red Deer at AUMA

City council approves endorsement

Updated Red Deer smoke free bylaw to ban smoking cannabis in public

Smoke Free Bylaw returns to Red Deer city council Sept. 4

Case of truck driver charged in Humboldt Broncos crash adjourned until October

MELFORT, Sask. — The case of a Calgary truck driver charged in… Continue reading

Animal crackers break out of their cages

After more than a century behind bars, the beasts on boxes of… Continue reading

Alligator kills woman trying to protect her dog at resort

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. — A woman who often walked her dog… Continue reading

Patients redirected as water leak shuts down Edmonton hospital’s emergency room

EDMONTON — Ambulances are being redirected to other hospitals after a water… Continue reading

Parks Canada moves second bison bull that wandered out of Banff National Park

BANFF — Parks Canada says a second bison bull that wandered out… Continue reading

Lottery for parent sponsorship to be replaced, more applications to be accepted

OTTAWA — The Trudeau government is scrapping an unpopular lottery system for… Continue reading

Air Canada-led consortium signs deal to buy Aeroplan program from Aimia

TORONTO — A consortium led by Air Canada has reached a deal… Continue reading

Scheer going to India to ‘repair’ relationship after ‘disastrous’ Trudeau trip

OTTAWA — Six months after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s foreign policy prowess… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month