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Wednesday, 19 November 2014 15:29

The (provincial government) bell tolls for thee

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“Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” — John Donne.

Then 17th century author and philosopher Donne was talking about how men are not islands and that we are all the same and what effects one person can effect all.
Well, different toll, but the government is now toying with the idea of how to generate revenue in order to help pay for new highways without having it affect all Alberta taxpayers.
Prior to the throne speech, the provincial PCs met in Banff for their weekend convention and to go over some policies.While there the idea of a toll road system to help finance new major highways came up.
The logic is that petroleum prices, and thus the tax revenues the province collects, are decreasing and there needs to be more revenue generated for the province. It is an interesting idea, especially considering no one would think from a logic standpoint it isn’t fair in the sense that those who use it, should be the ones paying for it.
Critics will say those areas which depend on tourism or those who don’t have a lot of spare income will not be able to afford such a plan. However, it’s an interesting trial balloon and theory to throw out to Albertans.
Give Premier Jim Prentice credit, he is the consummate and savvy politician. The throne speech,  although unremarkable, has set everyone up for some cost-cutting and some revenue generators measures.
These are his five clear priorities as outlined directly from the Throne Speech delivered Nov. 17:
• A focused commitment to sound, conservative fiscal principles;
• Ending entitlements and restoring public trust;
• Maximizing the value of natural resources and respecting property rights;
• Establishing the province as an environmental leader; and
• Increasing Albertans’ quality of life by being a leader in the areas of health, education, seniors’ care and skills training.
In layman’s terms, Prentice is saying the government is going to right the ship, but it’s going to come at an unknown cost. For example, he has already promised to have a balanced budget for March 31. He also will introduce new property rights legislation (a big sore point in rural areas defusing Wildrose’s plans); more continuing care spaces and building more schools (again always popular with voters and news agencies looking for easy photo opportunities). Prentice plans on doing this while continuing with low taxes and adding no provincial sales tax.
However, if Prentice promises all of the popular aspects of Alberta life, how does he plan on paying for it?
There has to be a way to pay for all of this without increasing taxes and a decreasing petroleum revenue. It will be interesting to see all the revenue generators and really how the Progressive Conservative bell tolls for thee.
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