by Drew Barnes
December 28, 2020
Alberta should be the freest, most prosperous place in the world.
You know this, I know this, we all know this.
In a province of 4.4 million people, families and communities across the province simply want to work and provide a quality life for their families and communities.
On a minus 35-degree night in Fort Mac last January, I bumped into some young oil & gas sector workers, their heads and facial hair full of icicles. This was a vivid reminder of how hard we work, how much risk we take and how innovative and successful we have been and can be.
“The 20th century shall be the century of Canada and Canadian development…Canada shall be the star towards which all men who love progress and freedom, shall come.”
This quote is from Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier in October 1904, a year before Alberta and Saskatchewan ceased being part of the North West Territories and became separate provinces.
However, we are now in the 21st century, more than 116 years later, and what is our future? What will it take so that Alberta can be the freest, most prosperous place in the world?
It will take a commitment to free enterprise, a commitment to limited government (spending, regulation, and competitive taxation) and a commitment to achieving an economic and political fair deal, either inside or outside the Canadian confederation.
Together, Albertans, we can do this.
American President Calvin Coolidge was known for his fiscal conservatism, thrift, entrepreneurial focus, and total belief in small government. In fact, one of his quotes “the business of America, is business” is the road map Alberta needs to follow.
The 1920’s were a crucial decision time for America. Coolidge rightly sensed that World War I President Woodrow Wilson had set America on a course of costly world dominance and policing, expensive social programs, costly big government, corporate subsidies, and uncompetitive taxation.
Coolidge knew the opposite, a focus on business, free enterprise, regulatory right-sizing, limited government and taxation and more power for individual states (provinces) was the best path for individual and family freedom, opportunity, and prosperity.
I am grateful to represent Cypress Medicine Hat since 2012. I am grateful to be 1 of 87 MLA’s paid to speak on 4.4 million Albertans behalf. I know the future for Albertan prosperity rests on the following priorities.
First, we need to embrace and institute a low-cost government environment. The value and importance of balancing our budgets so billions in interest are not sent overseas or robbed from future generations and ensuring oversight and thrift are applied to every tax dollar taken.
Secondly, restoring a competitive, low-tax environment with no provincial tax on small business, no carbon or sales tax and a return to low, rate, flat taxes.
Third, an end to expensive, counter-productive regulations and tax transfers to support and protect fledging, uncompetitive industries, and ideas.
Fourth, a time frame for Ottawa to finally practice fairness, equity, and free trade. Ottawa must end the crippling, unconstitutional overreach into Alberta’s environment jurisdiction, must end the attack on Alberta’s oil and gas community and must end the transfer of $25 billion a year from Alberta families, businesses, and communities.
If Ottawa will not change, then Alberta must.
In short, fiscal values and policies that focus on free enterprise, families and communities will lead Alberta to where its future will be the brightest.
Alberta will be the leader in equity, fairness, choice, and local decision making. The freest, most prosperous place in the world.
Drew Barnes is the MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat in the Alberta Legislature.