Don’t throw caution to the wind following the provincial election in 2019

Dan Dibbelt
Smoky River Regional Economic Development
Back some 40 years ago, then President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, installed solar panels at the White House. It was a bold and innovate move, thinking well beyond his time. It was a move our own Alberta government may be pondering. They have certainly taken a strong stand on alternative energy and are progressive in looking at renewable energy as a way for Alberta’s future.

Today Jimmy Carter still has about 10 acres of his farm land covered with more than 3,800 solar panels which feed into the Georgia power grid and produce about $7,000 in revenue for the Carters. Peanuts, I am sure compared to his peanut crop.

Unfortunately, the solar panels at the White House were short lived as they were quickly removed by the United States subsequent President Ronald Reagan. Just as well, I suspect present day President Donald Trump would have done the same.

There is something to be learned from that little “solar” episode – an incoming government can quickly change decisions made by a previous government. And so perhaps the NDP government should be careful as it makes it policy decisions not fully endorsed by Albertans that affect Albertans.

Political parties have a habit of believing they will be re-elected. Certainly, the Alberta Conservatives felt that way each election year. The 2014 election put that belief to rest. The present Alberta NDP government feels fairly certain that they too will be re-elected in the 2019 election. It is unlikely the Liberals or the Alberta party will take over. The Alberta Conservatives are busy eating their own young and the Wildrose, while the most likely contender to the NDP, need to align with the more centralist conservatives to ensure a take over in 2019.

What is fairly certain is that should the NDP not win the next election, the incoming government will likely dismantle much of the policy decisions the NDP have pushed through with haste, policies such as the carbon tax, which the Wildrose have already stated they would revoke if they get elected. And I suspect a number of parties will offer to do likewise if they get elected.

The unfortunate part of this scenario is that some of what the NDP are implementing is good policy that needs to be addressed, either by them or by a subsequent government. They may not be policies we embrace, but overall they are good. There isn’t a farmer in Alberta that does not think farm safety is important. What most farmers objected to was how the NDP government implemented Bill 6 with, what most farmers felt, was little or no consultation with the people affected the most by the policy.

Likewise, most Albertans believe we should do our part to save the environment, however I would speculate that most would feel that our contribution to the environment should fall in line with our carbon impact on the environment.

The NDP have argued that if they do not put in a carbon tax, we will be at the merch of the federal government to do it for us. The federal government does have a plan –

Their initial price will be a minimum of $10 (Canadian) per metric ton (“tonne”) of CO2, and it will increase annually by $10/tonne to reach $50 in 2022. Half of what we Albertans are paying under the NDP model.

While it can be argued that Alberta produces the most greenhouse gasses in the country, we share any benefit we get with the entire country – so should we not all be on the same playing field. Another argument was that Alberta used the carbon tax to lessen the negative image of Alberta due to our oil sands, and then hopefully pipelines would get approved.

Well, Trump who supports natural resources also threw his support behind the Keystone pipeline, something his predecessor, who was much greener, did not.

While it may be hard for the provincial government to slowdown its implementation of some of its policies and programs it may be a worthwhile plan to ensure that a potentially new government does not completely dismantle anything NDP based simply on the fact that they won the election.

Taking your time to ensure Albertans buy into some new and innovate policies and programs may be the best plan to ensure their longevity.

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