Each week, a small group of Official Opposition MLAs get together to talk through a specific policy issue. As part of the process, a short commentary is compiled and then edited. Editorial committee members include DREW BARNES, Cypress Medicine Hat; SCOTT CYR Bonnyville Cold Lake; GRANT HUNTER, Cardston-Taber-Warner; WES TAYLOR, Battle River Wainwright; MARK SMITH, Devon-Drayton Valley; RICK STRANKMAN, Drumheller-Stettler; and RON ORR, Lacombe-Ponoka.
The older we get, the more we realize that key aspects of our lives are not determined by circumstance so much as by the way we respond to circumstance—by the choices we make.
We’ve all seen people who are disadvantaged, wounded, or weak, yet determined to push beyond and do better with their lives. These are the people who refuse to surrender to circumstance. They don’t ignore reality or deny what might have occurred. They simply choose to adopt an attitude that permits them to move on to better things.
The choices we make shape our lives. The character and culture of a province, state, or country is also shaped and influenced by people’s choices.
John A. MacDonald chose to use his political influence to build a railroad, which historians say cemented the nation of Canada. Terry Fox, after being struck by cancer and losing a leg, chose to run across Canada to raise money and awareness. The disease forced an end to his run and took his life, yet Terry’s choice resulted in his permanent worldwide legacy. Colonel Sanders likewise made a choice. At age 66, he lost his gas station business, so he took his first old-age cheque ($105) and began selling franchises for his fried chicken recipe. He died a multi-millionaire.
Another important place where choices are made is the legislature. Many people think political debate and what goes on in the legislature is only about politics and political wrangling. That’s not really true. Politicians are certainly part of the legislative apparatus—and so is wrangling—yet the fact is that everything governments do and that politicians debate is actually about choices.
The beginning of every government is a voter’s choice. Each vote is like a raindrop, and when you get enough raindrops, you have a general rain or even a downpour. After the voters make their choice, a new government is sworn in to make further choices that affect us all—sometimes good, sometimes bad.
Today in Alberta, our government is making choices that will remake our province. These choices, the evidence says, will change Alberta from a world-class commercial competitor into the economic equivalent of a second- or third-string hockey player.
According to the Calgary Herald, a leaked government document indicates that central elements of the government’s recent climate change decisions will have a serious negative impact on “the competitiveness of oil and gas facilities in Alberta.”
The report says that the Alberta Energy Regulator estimates that new regulations could cost the oil and gas industry $1.5 billion. It further states that a separate analysis by Alberta Finance shows that just one aspect of the policy could scrap 1,000 jobs. The Herald then adds that the system of so-called credits the government has chosen to advance could cost the energy sector $1.3 billion every year starting next year.
As a result of all this, the question we Albertans should be asking is not necessarily about government and political party policy, but about choices and consequences. In plain terms, we are choosing to penalize our own energy industry with severe financial measures, when other jurisdictions like the U.S. are slashing taxes and red tape, rejecting carbon taxes, and calling for expanded fossil fuel production due to growing global demand. Alberta’s choice in this regard—like all choices—will bring about a consequence.