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Monday, 10 March 2014 11:48

Cash cookies will bake the books

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She’s sorry; no, really, she is.

This is what Alberta Premier Alison Redford did when Lieut. Governor Donald S. Ethell at times — some would argue symbolically — stumbled through reading Redford’s prepared Throne Speech.
The speech promised a lot of goodies and with that a lot of spending. There were casual mentions of fiscal restraint, but nothing concrete. The speech was like Redford’s way of saying, “sorry, I know I’ve spent and wasted a lot of money, but don’t worry, I’ll spend lots of money on you too.”
For those parents of young children out there, it was kind of reminiscent of when your child comes up to you and says he or she wants a cookie, and because you are so nice in handing over that treat, as a parent you should enjoy one too.
The speech outlined how The Building Alberta Plan is right on track positioning Alberta for long-term growth.
In a release the speech briefly outlined how two new endowments will be created under Bill 1, “to position Alberta for long-term economic growth by supporting the agriculture sector and social innovation. Through this bill, the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund will also be expanded, offering additional supports for apprenticeships, as well as trades and technology training.”
The government also wants to build a “dedicated pipeline training facility”; the creation of the Alberta Institute for Research and Commercialization; and long-term support for cities and towns
(see: give more funding to whiny Calgary). Other interesting treats include expand the results-based budgeting process and hold spending below population and inflation growth until 2016; create the Agriculture and Food Innovation Endowment; create the Social Innovation Endowment; expand the Alberta Heritage Scholarship Fund; fund the creation of the Lougheed Leadership Institute; create the Alberta Institute for Research and Commercialization; and more money for alternative resources such as wind energy. 
They also plan to “continue to advocate against unfair Country
of Origin Labeling rules in the U.S., urge the federal government to impose penalties on shippers who fail to meet their grain delivery obligations to producers, work with the federal government on
areas of shared interest, continue to advocate for projects such as Keystone XL (pipeline)...” Etcetera, etcetera.
She will spend a lot because you, the taxpayer, deserves it.
All of this hard work and spending treats are Redford’s way of helping voters forget she is embroiled in controversy for her lavish spending habits. Revelations came out last week she spent $9,000
to take a government plane from her U.S. vacation to return for
Ralph Klein’s memorial last April. The trip included her daughter and two bodyguards rather than taking a much cheaper commercial flight. Then there is of course the $45,000 spent on going to Nelson Mandela’s memorial in South Africa when Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil did the same trip for under $1,000.
But it’s OK, Redford repeatedly told media that you, rural Alberta, have forgiven her for those mistakes. And just to show you how grateful she is, she’s going to spend all of this money on all of these programs. She gets a cookie; you get a cookie.
On March 4, the revelation came Redford had flown her daughter and her friends on the provincial plane at a cost of $5,000, but plans on paying back only about $3,100 of it. Playing the parent card, Redford told reporters Tuesday she thought her daughter would get lonely so the premier told her to bring friends on some trips (x4).
The Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation estimates by the 2016 election, the province’s debt will be $17 billion. In 2004, then-premier Ralph Klein proudly held up a sign which read “paid in full” after he wiped out the debt Don Getty’s administrations created. According to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s twitter account @ABDebtClock, Alberta’s debt at 9 a.m., March 5, 2014 was at $8,362,675,342.47. Yikes.
All of those $45,000, $9,000 and $5,000 junkets really add up don’t they? This free-wheeling, carefree, extravagant joie de vivre attitude creeps between the provincial budget and her own spending on her own personal staff (remember the 2012 Summer Olympics?) and now her daughter and her friends. Enjoy your cookie Alberta.
Ryan Dahlman is managing editor with the Prairie Post.
Contact him with your comments about this opinion piece at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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Ryan Dahlman

Managing Editor