With academics and everyone but the Tories themselves realizing that the government is too dependent on energy royalties, it was obvious Saturday's economic summit was little more than a feel-good exercise. Even the government itself said the meeting was a conversation about the direction Alberta needs to take moving forward and wasn't likely to shape next month's budget.
But of all that was said at the meeting, the best wisdom was expressed by the president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.
"Albertans are willing to make tough sacrifices when necessary. We're prepared to take it on the chin when we've been convinced it's the right thing to do," said Gil McGowan. "But allowing yourself to get punched in the face when it's not necessary is not brave and it's not noble. It's stupid."
McGowan's remarks appear to be in response to comments made by Tom Flanagan, who pointed out that the across-the-board cuts of Ralph Klein in the early 1990s balanced the province's books and set the stage for Alberta's economic boom.
Conservatives should heed what McGowan has to say, but instead, agree we shouldn't take tax increases on the chin while the budget has all but doubled in the past decade and a University of Calgary report found that 95 per cent of the increases in revenues during the same period were swallowed up by the public sector.
McGowan is right: we'll make sacrifices when necessary. But the fact the government can't do its job is no reflection on ordinary Albertans, who provide the highest tax contributions per capita in the country.
The Calgary Herald, Sunday, Feb. 10, 2013