By GRAHAM HICKS
As the election euphoria fades, here’s what Premier-Elect Jason Kenney is up against.
Multi-generational Albertan families, for the first time, are seriously considering their futures in what once was a land of milk and honey.
Our province’s great natural resources are under unrelenting attack. Author David Yager fittingly named his recent book on Alberta’s future, “Miracle to Menace.”
The urban latte-drinking crowd are convinced that a climate-change Armageddon is at hand, unless — damn all those who feed their families from oil-patch jobs — fossil fuel-burning is banned from this Earth.
Being anti-oilsands is so trendy, so stylish. National Geographic Magazine just published ANOTHER one-sided attack on the oilsands entitled “The World’s Most Destructive Oil Operation … and It’s Growing.”
Now it’s chic among the latte-drinkers to be vegan and gluten-free, which doesn’t bode well for our beef, chicken, pork and wheat producers. What’s next – save the pine beetles by shutting down Alberta’s lumber kilns and pulp mills?
The future growth of this province now hangs in the balance.
All the high-tech in the world, even if every solar panel and wind power manufacturer on the planet moved to Alberta, would not replace the hundreds of thousands of well-paying jobs in Alberta’s carbon-based energy sector.
If confidence is not restored, if global investors continue to see Alberta as a no-go zone, the long slow decline of Alberta’s economy will continue – from the severe shrinkage of 2016 and 2017 to the anemic 1% growth of late.
We will slowly drift down to Manitoba or Maritime status – enough to get by, but not enough for growth. Our downtown skylines won’t change for decades, vacancy rates will stay high, our homes will steadily lose value year by year.
Our best and brightest, unable to find fulfilling work, will start leaving.
Entrepreneurs will head where the odds are better on making a buck – maybe Ontario, as that province gets its financial house in order.
Worst of all, economic necessity will send our children elsewhere – depriving grandparents of enjoying their grandchildren, leaving those grandparents to face extreme old age on their own.
It hits home on a personal financial level.
Alberta’s great-unwashed middle-class are the primary investors in publicly-traded companies that do most of their business in Alberta – CWB, Capital Power, ATCO, Cenovus, Enbridge, Encana, Fortis, Husky, Suncor, TransCanada and so on. At what point will Albertans start selling their Alberta company stocks – for fear of the future in this province?
This is why two out of three Alberta voters opted for Jason Kenney and the United Conservative Party.
This is why the future of this province lies in Kenney’s hands.
We all know the current federal government, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, has washed its hands of Alberta. We all know British Columbia cares more about the faintest, most remote possibility of a major oil spill from a new pipeline than about Alberta jobs.
Can Kenney get one or two major pipelines built, via Alaska or Churchill if need be?
Will his corporate sweetener – dropping corporate income taxes from 12% to 8% over the next four years – attract business to Alberta?
Can other pro-business incentives attract non-energy businesses to move to this once-great province?
Will the communications “war room” – vigilant monitoring of world media to respond to anti-oil propaganda, to make the case that Alberta’s “green” oil/gas is part of the solution, not the problem – change public sentiment from anti-oil to fact-based acceptance?
Will an overhaul and reduction of over-regulation produce the same encouraging results as happened e a few years ago in British Columbia?
Will the repeal of the all-encompassing carbon tax, to be replaced by more targeted penalties against large industrial over-emitters, achieve both emission-reduction goals and put more jingle in taxpayers’ pockets?
Can our vast natural gas fields, containing the one fuel that can replace coal with much-lower emissions, find new markets?
Can all of the above be carried out while at the same time stabilizing, then reducing, the province’s fast-growing accumulated debt?
Can the province’s essential services – health care, education, social assistance – be maintained within restrained government spending?
Jason Kenney – so much depends on you and your government.