Home Canadian News Bell: Smith sells a beer budget to Albertans with champagne tastes

Bell: Smith sells a beer budget to Albertans with champagne tastes

Bell: Smith sells a beer budget to Albertans with champagne tastes

Smith believes there is one boom left on the tank and this one can’t be pissed away

Article content

This is not radical stuff.

But this is look-in-the-mirror stuff.

Article content

This is not Premier Danielle Smith casting herself as a latter-day Ralph Klein and talking about deep cuts, great sacrifice and much pain.

No one except the hysterical and the usual political suspects will accuse anyone of slashing and burning.

What Smith does is take to the airwaves Wednesday night to flog an idea to Albertans that’s been talked about before in this province and has failed dismally.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Save money for the future and not blow the bank in the present.

Yes, this is the province where folks talk about a bumper sticker asking God to grant us another boom and we promise not to piss it away.

And we get a boom and we piss it away.

In good times, people want this spending, that spending and the other spending and pretty soon we’re talking about real money.

Yes, Alberta has a Heritage Fund and it has been raided so many times you’d think pirates were roaming the province.

It is a cruel joke.

A reminder of what could have been.

Recommended from Editorial

Smith explains the fund was set up back in the 1970s to invest a portion of oil and gas royalties each year so the investment interest earned in the fund would eventually grow large enough the province wouldn’t have to depend on money from the oilpatch when those dollars declined.

Other places like Norway did the right thing and their fund is huge.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

They’re sitting pretty. They’re off the oil-and-gas roller coaster.

Smith points out if only Alberta governments had just re-invested the income earned from the initial deposits into the fund then there would be a pot of gold worth over $250 billion instead of just shy of $25 billion.

What a waste.

And that $250 billion-plus fund would be earning enough interest today that Alberta wouldn’t have to rely on oil and gas royalties.

What an indictment. What a missed opportunity. And all but one of those governments calling the shots called themselves conservative.

So Smith is telling Nate Horner, her government’s budget boss, to limit government spending to below inflation plus population growth.

Not a cut in spending but some restraint.

Not just for this coming budget with softer oil and natural gas prices but in years when there are billions of surplus dollars from high oil and gas prices.

Instead of spending all surplus cash from the oilpatch on today, today, today, the province will invest in the Heritage Fund every year, pay off maturing debt and slowly get off counting on the ups of the oilpatch and fearing the downs.

Advertisement 4

Article content

In case you’re asking, it comes as no surprise promised personal income tax cuts will have to wait a year and when they do come they will not come all at once.

Horner will have no problem following orders.

“I don’t think you can run around with champagne tastes on a beer budget forever,” said the plain-spoken Alberta budget boss late last year.

Alberta Finance Minister Nate Horner
President of Treasury Board and Minister of Finance Nate Horner. David Bloom/Postmedia file

Smith believes there is one boom left on the tank and this one can’t be pissed away.

A boom the premier says will be exciting … wait for it … especially if there’s a government in Ottawa that is not “a delusional adversary.”

Had to be one shot at the Trudeau Liberals.

Anyway, there must be a Heritage Fund worth hundreds of billions of dollars by 2050 so there will be prosperity “long after our last barrel of oil has been produced.”

Horner has said Alberta is at a place “where we need to be smart” and “need to reset the tone.”

Where the government will focus on fundamentals like health and education and public safety and supporting those in need, but everyone will not get everything on their wish list.

Of course, Smith will not “bemoan what might have been” but this scribbler, not in need of votes, will bemoan what might have been.

Albertans elected politicians who failed us.

Smith and her people insist they have faith in Albertans.

They believe many Albertans will buy into what they’re planning and see this is the right thing to do even if it takes some financial discipline.

Just make sure to pardon those of us who want to see before we believe.


Article content


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here