Sorry for the politics people … but some things just really rub me the wrong way. Premier Ralph Klein of Alberta is threatening to pull from our “equalization payment” system due to his desire to hold onto the $$ from “their” resources. Alberta … a powerhouse in todays Canadian economy … has been really pushing a higher-than-though attitude of late. Sure … right now they have it good at the moment. Oil is doing well and the northern tar sands has placed Canada into 2nd largest oil producer in the world. But that does not make them and independent member of our family … but more just makes them sound like a adolescent child searching for their place in the world.
One must think of the whole above the individual … and the same applies for the provinces. A strong Albertan economy means a strong Canadian economy … which should just help with a strong global economy. The equalization payments are designed to share the load of struggling provinces across the backs of the entire country – yes a socialist ideal. However, what it does is ensure that a certain quality of life is maintained in all areas of the nation … the basics health care, infrastructure, and the likes. Cause nothing is worse than being behind the 8-ball … you can’t raise taxes to pay for these things when the economy is sluggish because Mr Citizen can’t pay any more.
We have all been through ups and downs … economies go up and down … power shifts east-west. This provides some stabilization. I understand the system might not be perfect … changes might need to be made. But … remember … Alberta is a province – not a state. You are part of the family … part of the whole – you don’t stand alone. When you do well – we all do well, when you struggle … we all feel the pain.
Keep in mind … when oil is a thing of the past you may not be in such a chest pounding mood.
Now … there is the criticism … solutions? The goal … make things fair and agreeable to everyone. My ideas … use a formula based off the land size, population, and revenue – which would go far in determining infrastructure and health care costs. Ensure restrictions on the payments to specific areas of ‘quality of life’. ALL provinces (and territories) should require payment into a single coffer to meet the QoL quota (percent based off revenues) … then payments to each province would be made from that – ensuring that each person receives what they need. Now, granted … this is not simple … more math would be involved … more discussions. (I do realize that this is a lot of how things work today and some of what is on the table – it is just what fills my head)
Klein is on his way out … and just stirring the pot as he goes. It is hard to be king of the hill, everybody is looking to take something away … just remember – your not the first and you won’t be the last. Ontario and British Columbia have both felt your pain in the last 30 years … keep your perspective.