Our illustrious Prime Minister likes to pontificate about how caring Canadians are and how we help each other out in times of distress. That’s a noble perception until its trumped by politics, self-righteousness and the baser elements of human nature. Such is the approach of many in BC as exemplified by BC Premier Christy Clark. Recently in a throne speech at the BC legislature, Alberta and its economic predicament were cited as an example of how badly our province has been governed. The speech implied that desperate situation has been avoided in BC thanks to wise decisions and guidance by the ruling BC Liberal party. No one recalls any other provincial throne speech ever being used to bash another province and kick it when its down. It shows just how deep anti-Alberta animosity exists in BC, but then that’s no real surprise to many of us who observe political and environmental antics in that province.
The point of the pretentious comments from the BC government was that Alberta had not diversified its economy enough and was too reliant on the energy sector – implying that it was more a victim of its economic predicament than a crash in commodity prices. That alone showed an appalling lack of basic research as Alberta reliance on the energy sector has decreased by 10 per cent over the last 20 years even as our provincial GDP has almost tripled. But that’s just an inconvenient truth, an approach that BC has become infamous for – that being – ”do as I say not as I do.” BC enjoys one of the most hypocritical economic and environmental positions in Canada and yet no one dares call them out to challenge the self-righteous green blanket they wrap around themselves. One notes that the main driver of the BC economy is also resource based – that being the clear-cutting of whole forests, digging up countless thousands of acres of pristine wilderness for minerals and coal, and yes just like Alberta, BC also extracts vast quantities of oil and gas. The latter concentrated in the northeast part of the province contributes a billion dollars a year to BC government coffers through taxes, royalties and land sales. It’s a little known fact that green-obsessed BC prefers not be mentioned.
One is bemused with other BC government comments that they are seeing a rise in homeless folks from Alberta moving to BC. Once again a little bit of research would have found that most of the folks moving to BC are in fact its own citizens returning from being laid off from the Alberta energy sector. I suspect in about a year the BC government will reap the consequences of all those returning jobless BC citizens. Many were job commuters (flights between Alberta and BC have already been reduced) and maintained their primary residences in BC – that meant their provincial income taxes were paid to the BC government even though they worked in Alberta. Many are highly trained geologists, engineers and technicians that probably won’t accept jobs as waiters, maids and bartenders which seems to be the major economic driver of BC. Add into all that the loss of royalties and corporate taxes from the energy sector and I expect that over the next couple of years, the BC government will see a steep decline in tax revenue. It’s going to get worse of course – although BC won’t admit it – Alberta citizens are close to being the largest contributor to the BC tourist industry. One could easily see a drop of 50 per cent in Alberta tourist expenditures in BC. One notes for sale signs on Albertan–owned recreational properties everywhere in the BC Columbia Valley and probably in the Okanagan.
It should be said that there is a provincial election coming up in BC in 2017 and that Alberta-bashing is a sure-fire campaign approach to drumming up votes. In the past, it was the BC NDP that used Alberta and oil resource development as bogeymen. But all that changed with the election of an NDP government in Alberta. As much as the BC NDP may hate the energy business, they will probably not want to beat up on their NDP cousins in Alberta. It now gives that political brickbat to the governing BC Liberal party who will gleefully point out that its an NDP government that is at the centre of economic malaise in Alberta, and BC voters should take note and not vote NDP or they will suffer a similar fate. It’s politics at its best.