Alberta's oh-so Conservative premier is screwing up, big time. Mardi Gras is over and 'Special Ed' Stelmach has woken up in an alley with his pants around his knees, surrounded by empties. From the Calgary Herald:
The Stelmach government is stuck in the same financial quicksand as the 1980s Getty era and is facing similar "dire consequences" of prolonged deficits and draconian spending cuts due to its over-reliance on energy revenues, warns a new University of Calgary study.
...Former premier Don Getty's regime made two key errors in the mid-to late 1980s of relying too heavily on volatile oil and gas revenues to fund its budget, and then failing to cut spending accordingly when energy prices collapsed -- instead hoping markets would rebound in the short term.
The Stelmach government is headed down an identical path, cautions the report.
"We criticize (the government) for allowing its budget to become so heavily dependent on volatile, energy-related revenues--that is a high-risk strategy;it has been tried before and has failed, with dire consequences," the report states.
In December, 2006, the Financial Post warned Alberta to start acting like grown ups with the Tar Sands Bonanza:
"Alberta’s blue-eyed sheikhs offered a plaintive prayer in the early 1990s as sliding oil prices plunged the energy-rich Canadian province into recession. “Dear God,” ran their plea, featured on a popular bumper sticker. 'Let there be another oil boom and I promise not to piss it away this time.'"
Yet, for all the benefits, a frisson of nervousness has recently emerged that short-term growth may be taking precedence over long-term prudence. Mr Vander Ploeg estimates that the province’s Progressive Conservative government has saved just 8.6 per cent of the C$120bn it has collected in non-renewable resource royalties over the past 30 years."By contrast, Alaska has set aside about one-quarter of its resource revenues in “permanent” and “reserve” funds. Norway has tucked almost two-thirds of its North Sea riches into a rainy-day petroleum fund.
One surprising critic is Peter Lougheed, Alberta’s premier from 1971 to 1985 and now a respected elder statesman. He says his eyes were opened by a recent helicopter trip over the 'oilsands projects. 'I felt it was just really bad,' he says. 'It was the opposite of orderly.'
Although he belongs to Mr Klein’s party, Mr Lougheed puts much of the blame on the laisser-faire approach to oilsands development. 'The thing that’s being completely missed,' he says, 'is: what is the benefit to the citizens from the overheating of the economy?'”
Well Peter that's what happens when you put the Trailer Park Boys in charge of the provincial treasury.