Friday, July 10, 2009

This Week in Alberta - Read My Lips

Ending speculation about possible tax hikes, Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach announced Tuesday the province is not increasing personal or corporate taxes to deal with Alberta's growing financial woes.

"As long as I'm premier of this province, there will be no tax increases ... No tax increases, period," Stelmach forcefully told reporters after a cabinet meeting in Calgary.

This story deserves attention, and not just because it's the only recorded instance of the words "Stelmach forcefully" being used in that order (Seriously. Don't believe me? Check out google.).

No, this story deserves attention, because of the baffling Liberal response, which was - "well...maybe we should raise taxes":

While hiking taxes should be a last resort, it should still be an option for a government to consider, said Alberta Liberal finance critic Dave Taylor.

*CG smacks head on desk repeatedly*

But before anyone thinks I've gone soft on Steady Eddie, the rest of the press conference was vintage Stelmach:

Stelmach also said he's immediately rolling back the liquor tax increases that were introduced in the spring budget. That move will reduce government revenues by $180 million a year — and add to this year's deficit that had already been projected to reach almost $5 billion.

Stelmach said he was never comfortable with the April jump in liquor prices when the government markup was boosted by $1.30 for a dozen beer, 75 cents for a bottle of wine and $2.89 for a 750 ml bottle of spirits.

"It was something that I had a hard time agreeing with; it's been bothering me all that time," he admitted.

"We have to … continue to work to reduce the cost of doing business in this province. That's the way you build Alberta's future, and I tell you that Albertans expect confidence and stability in these very, very difficult economic times, and that is my focus," he said. "So just to close: cold beer, hot day, during very difficult economic times."

So, to recap. Stelmach was "never comfortable" with his own budget. Well, that's reasuring.

And now, less than three months later, he has completely reversed himself for no apparent reason other than to project "confidence and stability". Uh-huh.



  • I'm more concerned about the fact that Stelmach apparently sees the price of alcohol as being a major impediment for doing business in Alberta, and that the way to "build Alberta's future" is to reduce liquor taxes in times of recessions. I would have expected this kind of logic from Ralph 10 years ago, but it's truly baffling to see Eddie take a stab at it. What industry are you trying to grow here, Eddie?

    By Blogger Maestro, at 7:29 p.m.  

  • "While hiking taxes should be a last resort, it should still be an option for a government to consider, said Alberta Liberal finance critic Dave Taylor.

    *CG smacks head on desk repeatedly*"

    Are you suggesting that this should be completely of the table? If so, you're still an Albertan.

    By Anonymous ace, at 9:02 p.m.  

  • CG, I don't know why you have a problem with Ed Stelmach. He's practically a liberal anyways.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:44 p.m.  

  • Perhaps he realized there may be a link between alcohol consumption and the Alberta PC margin of victory.

    By Blogger french wedding cat, at 4:41 a.m.  

  • ace; Sure, raising taxes is fine. Let's put it on the Liberal "hidden agenda".

    But there's no way that promising to raise taxes is going to win anyone votes in Alberta any time soon.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:29 a.m.  

  • anon; It's not so much Stelmach's policies that offend me. It's the fact that such an awful politician managed to not only win, but win as convincingly as he did.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 12:30 a.m.  

  • If there's one thing that conservatives and liberals can agree on it's that Stelmach is a horrible, horrible premier. He's Alberta's Dion, but there's no chance that he'll be replaced until he feels like leaving.

    LPC at least got a do over and got one of the top 2 candidates into the leadership. By the time Eddie's gone both Morton and Dinning will have a hard time making a go of the race.

    One of the downsides of winning every election for 38 years. The Liberals have a chance if they, er, stop being Liberals and come out with policies that Albertans actually support. Too bad they're running campaigns that would work in Toronto instead of Calgary.

    By Blogger Hey, at 1:24 p.m.  

  • The biggest news to me was that Stelmach apparently wished to crack down on the tax increasing speculations of... Ted Morton.

    Dave Taylor was absolutely correct. But it is one thing to be correct and another thing to have no sense of timing or framing. Any musings were going to be contrasted to what Stelmach believed was his "very clear message" in any media report. Somehow the federal Liberals do not have this problem viz-a-viz the federal Tories in that they are not seen as chomping at the bit to hike taxes. Taylor should have changed the frame from taxation in general to specifics by asking if booze taxes are in fact the big "barrier to investment" Stelmach seems to think is holding back growth of the "pie". Call attention back to the question of whether Steady Eddie really knows what he is doing.

    By Blogger Brian Dell, at 4:34 a.m.  

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