Prentice should look to the spirit of Lougheed

Re: the Alberta budget. For most of us, the anticipation of our newly minted premier’s first budget ranged from a wait and see cautious optimism to waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Re: the Alberta budget.

For most of us, the anticipation of our newly minted premier’s first budget ranged from a wait and see cautious optimism to waiting for the other shoe to drop. It is now apparent that when the premier was speaking about finding alternative revenue streams for the Alberta government that weren’t dependent upon the boom and bust cycles of the oil industry, he was referring to taxing the middle class.

I suppose the logic being that the middle class would not mind a small pinch for the overall good of the province.

I have to wonder how many of the middle class have already lost their jobs or are about to as the economic situation gets worse. The premier’s reluctance to tap the corporate sector for fear of more layoffs is justified, but these same corporations are likely to do so anyway as they move to protect their corporate headquarters. When was the last time you heard of corporate executives or even bureaucrats getting layoff notices? In Alberta this goes farther as a large number of players in the corporate sector have head offices in other countries.

I resent the idea of being thought of as a resource for a government that has mishandled our fortunes when times were good, and has allowed our services and infrastructure to fall apart, creating the deficit we now face. Peter Lougheed masterminded a system that brought us the Heritage Savings Trust Fund, which put aside billions of dollars in savings (in 1970s money), which subsequent governments squandered. We had a debt-free province with a balanced budget. How long did that last?

Having sat with my senior citizen father in a hospital emergency room until 2 in the morning waiting to get treatment, I can say that I am no fan of Ralph Klein’s era in politics. We pay for the infrastructure deficit every time we have to buy tires or repair damages to our vehicles caused by pot-holed streets and decaying highways.

My feeling is that Prentice would do well to follow the example of Lougheed. If some of those policies cause foreign investment to go elsewhere, so be it. There are plenty of people and businesses in Alberta willing to take their places.

With an election looming, we need to see the various political parties presenting us with an actual economic plan and a vision for our province.

The PCs seem to have lost the fact that the people of Alberta are their corporate shareholders, and that the resources of this province belong to the people of Alberta, and not the government or some offshore corporation.

For Prentice to reach Lougheed status, he will have to manage our oil industry in a way that insulates us from economic shocks. He will also have to find alternative fields to replace crude oil as our primary economic generator. Or at least find more ways to refine or produce oil-based products in house. We need a new emphasis on agriculture, one that preserves our shrinking supply of arable land as the world population continues to grow and food production becomes a global issue. Alberta has a 400 year supply of oil, but if we keep allowing our urban areas to swallow up rich agricultural land, what will we eat?

It would seem that the time when we enjoyed good governance, our nation was being run by a minority government. This meant that our political parties had to put aside their philosophical differences and do what was best for this nation. To give the provincial PCs a majority government out of fear of the unknown is unfounded.

Government functions best with a vigorous and effective opposition. Dictatorships crumble eventually, but usually take the nation down with them.

The most successful of governments put the people first.

Jeff Hanson

Red Deer County

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