Feeling Sorry for Canada

Are you trying to get off that wake-up cup of coffee in the morning?

I recommend you read Gary Mason’s article in the Globe and Mail if you want to get your heart started. He wrote an opinion piece called the “No one should feel sorry for Alberta” The jist of his storyline is that Alberta is solely to blame for its economic woes:

  1. All would be well if we just taxed ourselves out of debt and back to prosperity.
  2. Our problems have nothing to do with oil prices, equalization payments to Quebec or Ottawa’s policies. Nope we only have ourselves to blame!
  3. And the trifecta is – Alberta is still better off than other provinces so – “get with the program of high debt and unemployment”!

More taxes is his solution – apparently a sales tax – on top the carbon tax – while our biggest trading partner, the US, is reducing taxes will be a genius move!   Mason has no sympathy for the abrupt revenue decline that saw billions vanish from Alberta government coffers in a single year. Would he be similarly hard-hearted if other provinces took a 20% hit in one year?  Probably not, because if you follow his logic; they have already taxed themselves to the hilt! He thinks any city would be happy to have Calgary’s retail, housing and employment growth. Does he also wish on them the ugly job losses and retail declines of the previous years before this rebound?

Mason is tone deaf to the drivers behind the equalization debate:

  • Quebec has shuttered its energy resources but is happy to accept federal cash that is generated in part by Alberta’s energy resources
  • Mason doesn’t seem to fathom the link between the equalization debate and failed and struggling pipelines access.
  • He missed the point about imbalances in the equalization formula. Alberta got $251 million from a stabilization fund the year its revenue dropped $8 billion. That year Quebec stopped by for its annual cash infusion of $10 billion. Does that seem fair?

But he is correct….

  • Mason does correctly note that the Alberta government has increased spending (from $45 billion in 2015 and is headed to $60 billion by 2019).
  • And he is correct that there is huge potential from growing frustration.