2019 is an election year in both Alberta and Canada. It is time for voters to say to both Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Notley that you have not been acting in the best interests of the economy and it is time to elect alternative governments.
It is somewhat difficult to be hugely optimistic concerning the state of the Alberta economy in 2019, but there are things that could be done. There are of course problems that we cannot directly deal with ourselves. In spite of what Rachel Notley tries to do with oil production, cutting production in Alberta may not have any effect on the price of oil. There was an initial bounce in the price, but it is not clear that this will last. Ironically, Alberta cutting production will please the extreme tree-huggers, whose goal has always been to stop production.
The major policy initiative that would really help Alberta in 2019 would be the federal government finally stepping up to the plate on the pipeline issue. This, of course, has been badly bungled by the Trudeau administration. One major problem here is that Mr. Trudeau cannot seem to make up his mind on what he thinks about the oil industry. He appears to be in a state of disbelief that a healthy oil industry has always been vital to the health of the Canadian economy. Of course, this contradicts the view of his touchy-feely backers that oil is destroying the economy. As far as I can tell, a frim grasp of the facts always seems to escape our prime minister.
I find it amazing, but not in a good way, that when General Motors announced it was closing all operations on Oshawa, Mr. Trudeau immediately offered assistance to the displaced workers. It does not take a great deal of thought to see the hypocrisy here. The Trudeau government has spent a great deal of time and energy trying to reduce emissions. A great deal of the emissions in Canada come from tailpipes of cars. So, the question becomes: why help the auto industry and not the oil industry?
The next issue is the carbon tax. We should remember that Ms. Notley is a proponent of the carbon tax. I find it incredible that any government would introduce a tax on an industry that is struggling. At the time of writing this article, the first ministers meeting was about to convene in Montreal and the carbon tax was not even on the agenda. In a particularly smug response to opposition to the carbon tax, Canada’s minister of the environment, Catherine McKenna, stated, “Some provinces think that it should be free to pollute.” In response to this, I would state that some provinces feel good policy should always foster an environment that favours jobs and growth.
These are not the only issues that should matter in an election year, but they are two of the most important ones for Alberta. With different governments in Edmonton and Ottawa in 2019, there may be room for optimism for the Alberta economy.
Frank Atkins is a senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.