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Deirdre 🇨🇦 @Mitchell_AB
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Next Panel: words from the wise. With Mark Milke, Jim Dinning and Patricia Nelson. @ABDanielleSmith is moderating.
#ableg #abpoli #ABMNC2018
DS: we kind of like the Saudi Arabia model though don’t we? We want to live off resource royalties and pay low taxes.
MM: he wrote Ralph vs Rachel. He gives a thank you to Preston Manning “the anti-Trump”.
MM: now talking about people now working in different industries, not what they trained for. How do you judge premiers and politicians. Personality is one but doesn’t mean beans. What should matter for us is the result of their policies. That was the idea behind the book
MM: think of an architect. You consult with people. If you want to get it right, you look to people who are good at what they do. When you set the foundation right you end up with something of beauty. Foundations matter and reality matters. Think Chrysler bldg v Tower of Pisa
MM: in Klein’s first three years, private sector job growth v Notley’s public service job growth. Why does this matter? Geophysicists and engineers, the highest educated and cleaners, the lowest are the first to go.
MM: the average unemployment rate if you finished high school in Alberta is only 5%. If you didn’t it was 9-13%. Every other province was higher even though we had so much in-migration.
DS introduces Jim Dinning. She got involved back in 1992. Neither she nor Nim supported Klein
Jim: in 92-93, we were spending 20% of our budget on healthcare. My colleagues stopped producing a full report. The Tories, we, conservatives, ramped up spending. We destroyed our financial asset position. We crates a hole. Rachel inherited it but they didn’t stop digging.
Jim: now we spend 40% of our budget on healthcare. The reason we didn’t raise taxes is because we couldn’t look people in the eye and say we were spending the money they were sending us in the most efficient way. Let’s not look at revenue let’s look at spending.
DS: whether you were from the red side or the blue side, the party worked towards a consensus. Patricia Nelson, former MLA, was supporting Klein; one of the few.
PN: when I went to Ottawa, with Reform, Ralph said to me “do you have to do this?” 😏
PN: I was a ticked off taxpayer. I kept saying this was wrong and we had to do something. We’d started to go into debt in 1982. Then we had the NEP and then oil fell over 50% In 1986. Provinces are responsible for health, education, natural resources etc.
PN: I said we have to do something and we decided he needed to run. Some people think getting your fiscal house in order is just about spending but it’s not. You need to look at policies and also need to look at how they will affect the next generation.
PN: I stood on a stage with Ralph with a sign that said paid in full. We knew that we needed to change. You asked about why we didn’t put it into the Heritage Fund? We surveyed the province; people didn’t want it in there. So we created the sustainability fund.
DS: how did you bring the spenders and the cutters on board?
Jim: Ralph said we’re going to get the govt out of business. We were going to balance the budget and not raise taxes; we were going to cut. We made real cuts. Not 20% across the board, but what we could.
DS: what about the unions? They took a cut too.
PN: we sat around the table, all of these boards, commissions and agencies and no measurement of accountability. I got tired. Tired of interviews. So I just asked “what do you do?” And some got so mad they quit.
PN: we were committed to it. We said let’s do something about it. The “class of ‘89”, we didn’t get involved for the pension and we said we’ll get killed at the doors. Let’s honour the plan only to 1992. From 1989 on, no pensions and we led by example.
PN: we asked the unions to help. We said here’s what we’ve done. And they weren’t all happy about it but they came on board and helped.
Jim: Stockwell Day deserves a lot of credit. I wouldn’t do the same thing today.
Jim: while balancing the budget is important, we have to get government out of the business of business. We need to look at balanced revenue and regulations.
PN I looked at the books from 1972; not one business that the govt became involved in wa successful.
MM: corporate welfare; that was my specialty at CTF and the Fraser Institute. You often hear the diversification argument. Under the Klein govt there was a steady decrease of reliance of the oil industry on the govt.
MM: the minimum wage increased 50% when inflation was only 5%. Businesses that aren’t O&G have trouble finding workers; you made businesses more dependent on the O&G industry not less.
PN: we attracted 103 head offices because of our policies. When we were getting $11/barrel of oil, we started to negotiate export capacity. We went back to industry and said how do we fix this? Having industry market our crude with theirs, it made an additional $12 million/mo
DS: that’s what happened when you could get pipelines built.
PN: well we just built ‘em - we didn’t ask.
Jim: we should return to a flat tax. I believe govt needs to apply the lightest possible touch. People know how to make decisions. Private delivery over govt. the genius of Ralph Klein, we al knew what our job was and he let us go do it.
Jim: when you get so granular that people can’t make a move without getting the Okay from the leader, the mechanism will freeze up.
DS: any thoughts on how we can get fair market access.
PN: our PM has the ability, a constitutional commitment to transport people and resources
PN: he could tomorrow stand up and say I’m going to waive the tanker ban. And you could run oil up the coast. On the east coast he could say well use the same transport corridor to stop Saudi oil and instead send AB oil east. He could stand up and say it and it would be done
PN: governments have to listen to the people. If they don’t start listening they’re going to have more trouble.
DS- is there a path back to balance?
MM: Don’t forget Canada was founded in part that Canada would be free trade from sea to shining sea.
MM: its crazy that someone from NS pays more in NB. Or we pay more for beer from SK.
DS: can we ever be debt free again?
Jim: we have to be wise about it. Some legitimate assets are good investments. You need policies and you need to stick to it.
PN: you need a plan. You have to stick to that plan or they won’t elect you again.
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