Dear Jim; An Open Letter to Alberta’s Premier

Dear Jim,

I like you. I really do. I think that your first couple of months in office, after officially winning a seat in the legislature, have seen some movements in the right direction (#Bill10 notwithstanding). Of course, all you’ve really done is reverse or deal with a lot of the bad decisions made by your predecessors. From selling off the air fleet to reversing the decision on the Michener Center, you’ve had your hands full of messes to clean up.

Of course, along with cleaning up The Party’s act, there have been some political feathers in your cap. Winning the four by-elections and assisting Danielle Smith with the neutering of her own official opposition are certainly a testament to your growing political capital and obvious prowess.

I like you, so here’s some (obviously) unsolicited advice, in the form of a Top 5 Top 6 List.

Number 1: Stop calling me (and every other Albertan) a taxpayer. We’re not cows to be milked. I’m a taxpayer once every two weeks when my paycheque gets cut. Every other moment I’m a father, husband, employee, boss, son, neighbour, volunteer…and most importantly, a concerned citizen of this province. Concerned that every damn conversation boils down to what the “taxpayers” are going to think. Try asking me as a father instead sometime.

Number 2: Don’t just slaughter some sacred cows, fire up the grill. Progressive income tax, revenue neutral carbon taxes, provincial sales tax, oil & gas royalties…you name it, we better be moving on it. Alberta could, and Alberta should.

Number 3: Stick to the laws your own government enacted, particularly the one about the next election being held sometime in the spring of 2016. I (and many fellow Albertans) are pretty much done with your party playing political games and running this place like it’s a little #PCCA fiefdom. It’s not like there’s a shortage of work to be done in the next year.

Number 4: The Environment. You know, that big ol’ place that provides food, water, air, etcetera…it’s suffering. In a big way. For far too long we’ve sacrificed our relationship with our natural spaces in the name of frenetic and unsustainable economic growth. From fracking to clear-cutting, rampant off-highway vehicle use in our headwaters to the oil sands, turning the corner on environmental issues and bringing some reverence back into our relationship with the earth should be a top priority.

Number 5: Last, but definitely not least, get out a little bit more. And I don’t mean down to the Superbowl to stump for the Keystone XL pipeline. Get out of your party’s vested interest in the status quo. Get out of the mindset that Albertan’s won’t tolerate some needed change around here. Get out and talk to people who haven’t spent their entire careers amplifying the issues that we now face.

Number 6: Finally, if you’re hell-bent on balancing the budget through spending cuts, which you seem to be (as opposed to the very good advice in Number 2), don’t do it on the backs of vulnerable people and children. Our educational system is already maxed out. I visited a local elementary school earlier this year and there were classrooms in the hallways. Classrooms in the staff room. Classrooms in the gym. I’ve got a 3 1/2 year old son and I’m more than a little anxious about the quality of his education in the coming years. As for the vulnerable, if there’s one thing that Albertan’s will tolerate less than a tax-system overhaul, it’s the further dismantling and degrading of an already fragmented and incomplete support system for vulnerable people. Albertan’s, as you know, are the kind of people that do what it takes to make sure their neighbours are cared for…look no further than the overwhelming response to the floods of 2013. Speaking of the floods, if you’re looking for something to cut, let’s start with golf courses.

I like you, Jim. I really do. I think you’ve got what it takes to help create a true Alberta Advantage…not one that’s been built on years of over-spending, under-saving and pillaging our natural resources.

I like you…but I’m probably not going to vote for you.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me for 40 years?

6 comments

  1. Jeff,
    Thank you for your insights! Your style of writing in this and other articles has an easy style of provoking thought while still being respectful and positive.
    Ross

  2. Progressive Income tax is a terrible idea. There is zero wrong with our flat tax. Any suggestion of increases taxes is a sign of someone with a spending problem. The real issue is waste – transferring wealth to welfare states such as quebec and our disgraceful wasste in health care and education.

    1. Hi Candace, thanks for your perspective. I’m interested in your very strong perspective here. Certainly there are two ways to balance a budget…increase revenue or reduce spending. Alberta has steadfastly refused to increase revenue at the expense of crumbling infrastructure and packed classrooms. If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to check out http://www.albertacould.org to see how we stack up against other jurisdictions in Canada.

  3. Well done. I like Jim Prentice. Albertans say Alberta PC’s are bad, but that there is no other party capable of handling the mess that the PC’s made over the course of the last 40 years. Changing governments every few years is the answer, of course, but that advice falls on deaf ears in Alberta. We forget that the civil service manages government. We pay to attract and maintain a competent civil service. And if the PC government would not constantly mess with the civil service (see Klein, Ralph; et al) we could rely on the ‘ship of state’ to ply the seas pretty much unimpeded by political ideology. We could actually vote for whatever party we wanted to vote for! As it stands, everyone in Alberta is afraid what oil might do! Stelmach learned not to mess with the royalty structure. (Poor Ed was banished to the Alberta wilderness for trying to get a better deal from oil for Albertans.) Nothing more need be said about Redford: We can’t expect Prentice to reverse in a few months generations of PC tradition. Albertans are trained to vote PC. No other party is an option. If change is to occur, it will be from within. Prentice saved the PC’s from themselves but the PC’s will not bargain with oil companies. You will not see Prentice in Washington arguing for an environmental accord, or for the sale of any other product manufactured in Alberta. Its all about oil. As long as Albertans refuse to look at political alternatives, we are stuck with PC’s –a sad fact of life in Alberta. But hey! We enjoy beautiful mountains and nice hiking trails in Kananaskis! And if the PC’s weren’t bent on ruining the environment, we could be excused from paying much attention. As it is, we really should be voting for some other party. Just once. Or twice. Give it a whirl. But I like Jim, too!

  4. Loved the letter – so many truths in it! So sad that Albertans are so stuck in their ways! Spent many years in Calgary, loved it, hated the provincial politics. If only there was someone capable of changing their mindset! One day it will occur to them there needs to be real change – at least we can hope!

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