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Saturday, October 03, 2009

Reading the Auditor General's Report and I Feel Screwed by my Government


GOVERNMENT SHOULD HAVE SEEN THE PROTESTS COMING A DECADE AGO:
Cambridge Strategies Inc. was doing research for the Alberta Forest Products Association in 2004-5 on the risks to the forest industry's social license to operate. We met with the major environmental non-governmental organizations as part of the work. They told us then that they were shifting their activist focus from forestry to the oil and gas industry, oilsands specifically.


We advised the provincial government at the political and administrative levels and some key energy industry people we worked with. Industry took it seriously but did not know what to do or to expect. The government shrugged it off.


Well now we have "dirty oil" as the Alberta brand around the world and a government indifferent to the aspirations of Albertans who want to be proud of the development of their oilsands resources. Now, according to the Auditor General, we have a government that is indifferent and inept and husbanding and accounting for the rents the energy industry owe to Albertans for for royalties.


WHY IS OUR GOVERNMENT NOT COLLECTING ROYALTIES OWED TO ALBERTANS AND THEN CUTTING SERVICES TO CITIZENS?
The government of Alberta attitude seems to be that most clearly expressed by former Premier Ralph Klein who refused to review royalties when his bureaucracy recommended it. He said, " We get our pound of flesh" referring to the collection and accountability of public revenues from the natural assets and heritage of every Albertan, our natural resources.


Well that is far from the case according to the recent Royalty Review Panel and the Auditor General. The Government of Alberta and the energy industry has some pretty serious explaining to do to Albertans. And they now need to prove there is not corruption either. It is a serious question to ask about a government not doing its job to steward the revenues owed to Albertans.


Premier Stelmach, do not shut down a single hospital bed, cut off services to another autistic kid, or cut back on teachers, service to developmentally disabled or long term care needs of Albertans. Hold off on all of this until you can prove to Albertans that the cash needed to pay for these vulnerable Albertan has not be forgotten in the bank accounts of the energy sector.