By Neal Ozano
I hate to say this, but the only government making any sense at all right now is the one run by Jean Chretien.
Alberta has a pile of money exploding from its oil-soaked pockets, and absolutely no idea what to do with it, so they give it to everyone in buckets, no questions asked, no strings attached, to the tune of $4.1 billion. The federal government, with a much more modest surplus, decrees that people poor enough to get the GST credit could probably use another $125 to help them pay their gas or heating-oil bill, for a grand total of $1.3 billion. Since they actually have criteria to screen rebate candidates, the federal government gets part marks.
Rich Alberta wasted $4 billion on a tonne of people–excluding the poor–who could probably suck up the increased costs of heating, while the federal government spent $1.3 billion helping the people who most definitely need it and left everyone else to fend for themselves.
Interestingly, with their election over, the federal government has no real reason to suck up to taxpayers, especially not the poor ones. All they want to do is stop people from freezing to death. The provincial government, oddly enough, is on the cusp of announcing a March election and, although they’re relatively solid in the polls, they’re still buying a few more votes by wasting more money than a junkie on a crack binge.
Hell, I like money as much as the next poverty-stricken student suffering under a horribly-capitalistic provincial government. And I certainly won’t be sending any of my rebates back to either government. But with that said, what do we have to show for this huge surplus we’ve squandered? Fifteen days worth of utilities? Three days of binge-drinking? Don’t leave extra money in the hands of ordinary citizens! Use it to benefit them.
Think what the provincial government could do with $4.1 billion dollars. The University of Calgary needed less than $4 million to keep tuition increases at zero, rather than the 3.7 per cent the Board of Governors approved. Provincial health care, though improving, is still scary and still threatened by private health care. It could have been funded so well that private health-care providers would never appear because there’s no market. Research technologies could find cleaner, cheaper energy sources from something other than petroleum, so that we’re not totally floored whenever oil and gas prices fluctuate.
Last time oil prices went through the roof, Alberta set up something called the Heritage Fund to sock away all the money. What we’re doing with it this time is nothing short of idiotic.