Sunday, March 14, 2010

Stelmach, unlike Harper, has the integrity to admit a mistake

By this point in time you will have learned that Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach has announced plans to reverse his ill fated increase in Alberta royalty rates paid by the oil and gas sector in order to attract much needed investment back into Alberta’s energy patch. This move of Ed Stelmach admitting the errors of his way is to be applauded and not ridiculed. Ed Stelmach from the very outset has shown immensely more integrity than Harper about how he went about this royalty increase and especially now that he has reversed course on a policy that was doomed for failure at the outset, in the same way that Harper’s income trust tax was doomed for failure, with the notable difference being that Stelmach has the integrity to admit to his mistake and Harper carries on oblivious to the havoc that he has wreaked.

Stelmach also has the Wild Rose Alliance party and Danielle Smith breathing down his neck on the destructiveness and foolhardiness of the royalty increase, as any credible opposition party would do, in a way much different than Harper is experiencing with the strangely quiet and compliant Liberal Party under Ignatieff who profess to be concerned about the plight of Canada's 2.5 million income trust investors, but never do anything meaningful about it?

Here is what I wrote about these two self-destructive policies back on October 25, 2007:

He who has betrayed the most: Stelmach or Harper?

Both of these presumed Conservatives have each implemented their own version of the National Energy Program, and yet both hail from Alberta. How strange indeed.

Both of these presumed capitalists thinks it’s okay to impose retroactive tax measures, and apparently haven’t heard of the concept of grandfathering.

Both of these presumed arbiters of just measures decided to brand these acts as “fair”. For one the retroactive tax was known as the Tax Fairness Plan. For the other, Our Fair Share plan

That’s where the similarities end, and Harper carries on alone with his unique brand of betrayal

Because unlike Stelmach, Harper promised he would never do what in the end he did. Stelmach (apparently) campaigned on the basis that his government would review the royalty regime in Alberta and carried through with this measure. Harper mislead the public by promising one thing and doing the exact opposite.

Unlike Stelmach, Harper cooked up his plan amongst a handful of six insiders consisting of two elected politicians and four bureaucrats and hatched his plan of betrayal in a surreptitious manner on Halloween, and fought tooth and nail to avoid holding public hearings or to require Flaherty to give testimony or evidence on the cornerstone assertions. Whereas Stelmach commissioned a panel and allowed for public input which in the end served to modify Stelmach’s adoption of what the panel recommended.

Stelmach’s royalty measure will actually serve to increase royalty revenue to the potential betterment of Albertans. Harper’s royalty measure will only serve to reduce tax revenue to Ottawa to the detriment of all Canadians and the loss of $35 billion in Canadians hard earned savings, translating into a significant diminution of many seniors’ standard of living in retirement and greater reliance on Canada’s social system. The takeouts to date from Harper’s plan have casued a $2 billion loss in annual taxes to Ottawa, that will eventually rise to $7.5 billion a year in lost taxes. A classic lose, lose, lose.

Unlike Stelmach, Harper is a total hypocrite, since on the one hand he has never heard of the concept of grandfathering when it comes to trusts held by average Canadians, and yet he instantly cites this very concept to allow Abu Dhabi Energy to acquire Prime West Energy, a deal that had only just been announced and not even formally made, on the basis that: ““Changing the rules in the middle of the game is not how this country does business.”.. Two days after the fact hardly constitutes the “middle of the game”, although ten years on with income trusts in the marketplace most certainly does.

Unlike Stelmach, Stephen Harper operates a minority government and is itching for an election. That’s the good news, since no doubt Harper would quote his good buddy George Bush (to the insurgients in Iraq) “Bring ‘em on”.


Dr Mike said...

It appears that all it takes is an effective opposition to force a rescinding of a bad policy.

That sure explains why the trust tax has not had the boots put to it federally.

Dr Mike Popovich

Stan said...


One of the most successful politicians of our time was Ralph Klien.He changed course on a number of occassions when he found out he had made an error. Unlike many leaders today who do not have the integrity and self confidence to admit a mistake and move on. Ralph was never high on himself and did what he had to do to make it right. To bad he quit politics because he only had 69% support. Can you imagine any of our present group doing this?


Anonymous said...

At least Stelmach has the cahones to admit he was wrong about royalties and reverse course, unlike Flim Flam Flaherty.  Stubborn SOB.