Wednesday, November 04, 2009

What is the Way Forward for Alberta's Politics?

There is a new guest blog posted today on Reboot Alberta by Dave King.  Dave is one of the founders and organizers on the gathering of Progressives that is happening in late November.  Dave says "We need to reject the politics of fear, confrontation and intimidation." 

With the current and coming budget pressures, many citizens, civil society organizations and community- based service provider agencies are feeling fearful.  They fear their funders and if they will have the resouces needed to do their jobs for some of the most vulnerable in our society.  There is significant anticipation of a confrontation attitude and personal intimidation from the provincial government as it promises to cut $2B next fiscal to deal with its expected budget shortfall of $7B. 

Part of that stated $7B budget anticipated shortfall seems to be made up of some smoke and mirrors.  It includes the paper losses from stock price declines in the Heritage Savings and Trust investment portfolio.  Those losses are not real or crystalized, as the Accountants like to say, unless the equities are sold out of the fund.  That is not happening or likely to happen any time soon.  Those capital devaluations not cash drains on the Alberta Treasury but they are made to appear that way in the messaging doming out of government.   It appears to be a tactic to enable the province to return to fiscal folly of the mid 90's of massive versus brutal cuts as Stelmach has decided to shift farther right fiscally in response to the Wildrose Alliance Party.

The market has recovered significantly since that last deficit calculation was done.  It will be interesting to see what the Third QTR numbers will show for Alberta's budget status as at the end of December.  We will know in January 2010 so pay attention Alberta to what the next deficit calculation is and how they arrive at it.
King also says "We are not well served by the politics of selfishness, exclusivity, immediate gratification and harsh judgement."  He calls for a new politics of "...hope, cooperation and respect...(based on) community and the public, incluson and diversity, the long term and affirmation." 

This made me think of the astonishing immorality of the Calgary Flames Hockey team jumping the H1N1 flu shot que. It was well known the flushot clinics were being shut down just as the players, teams executives all got private preference for flu shots.  They must have known of the vaccine supply shortages and the well publicized preferential needs of  pregnant women and young children who run the greatest H1N1 risk.  Where was the sense of community and cooperation by the team management and leadership when they showed such a misplaced sense of entitlement that they get to ignore the greater good?   How did this get past the provincial government and will we ever see some accountability for this deplorable behaviour?  There is lots of blame to go around and Albertans can't let it be swept under the political carpet.

There is so much more thoughtful commentary in Dave's blog post. I highly recommend you read it.  Here is the link.