Alberta Minute: AUMA Convention, Free Trade, and a Boondoggle Train

Alberta Minute – Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.

Alberta Legislature by IQRemix on Flickr

This Week In Alberta:

  • We’re not sure about calling it a summer break anymore, but the legislature is still on break until October 8th. There is a Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future meeting on Tuesday, though.
  • The Committee meeting will, amongst other things, hear the 2017 Annual Report of the Property Rights Advocate Office. We initially assumed that this must just be a typo and the 2018 Report would be discussed, but this is the government we’re talking about, so we thought we should check. It turns out it will be the 2017 report being discussed as it was only released in December 2018 – they’re running just a little bit behind!
  • AUMA, the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, is hosting their annual convention in Edmonton from Wednesday to Friday. While AUMA could be a fantastic way for towns and cities to get together and learn from each other, they also too often operate as a taxpayer-funded quasi-advocacy group. They regularly lobby governments for things that are in the interests of municipalities and, remember, that’s not always the same as the interests of their residents! For example, one of the sessions at this week’s convention is entitled “How to Make Friends and Influence the New Government”. Who do you want influencing the new provincial government? Other governments? Or the people of Alberta?

 

Last Week In Alberta:

  • Jason Kenney was in New York promoting the provinces’ newly reduced taxes, and red-tape reduction plan to business leaders and potential investors. The trip coincided with the attack on Saudi oil facilities which presented him with an ideal opportunity to also talk about the importance of new pipelines both in Canada and across North America. Talk is cheap though – every Premier goes to New York and talks about how great their policies are. Business leaders and investors will want to see serious and ongoing economic policy reform before regaining confidence in Alberta.
  • Speaking of which, the government has made another huge step towards opening up trade across Canada, announcing that they will drop another 8 of Alberta’s remaining 14 exceptions in the Canadian Free Trade Agreement. The 2017 agreement opened up trade across Canada but allowed each province to create a list of exemptions. Alberta initially had 27 exemptions, 13 of which the new government dropped back in July. Twenty-one exemptions down, six to go!
  • A high-speed train between Calgary and Edmonton has been proposed *yet again*. High-speed trains are a favourite boondoggle of environmentalists and others who don’t understand economics – it’s so bad that in the US even most left-wing economists and activists groups recognize how much of a gigantic waste of money they would be – and that’s in places with much higher population density. Let’s be clear, this is a train that would primarily benefit rich business types and politicians travelling from downtown Edmonton to downtown Calgary, but would be paid for by everyone else because you can bet it wouldn’t be built without taxpayer money. Thank god there’s no chance of it ever actually being built!