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Ric Dolphin is president of Dolphin Media, Inc. and the editor and publisher of Insight into Government, a weekly newsletter available by subscription. He reports on Alberta political affairs from the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, AB, Canada.

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Top Tweets

1

I'm proud to support Mad @MaximeBernier for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada! #ableg #abpoli https://t.co/S0k5ES0BbR

2

Pleased to announce phase 1 of our solar rebate program. $36 M for 2 yrs = capitalizing on some of the best solar… https://t.co/Gft74iFYnb

3

How to destroy your career with one tweet. This guy won't have a job by morning. #Jointsession https://t.co/nS9syjnpjy

4

The American Dream has moved to Canada https://t.co/yG160ZaeGn via @macleansmag

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I do not use gmail for work. If you've received something from a gmail account claiming to be me, it is not. See be… https://t.co/GGVn5zUBIu

Upcoming

  • Feb 17- May 22 ALBERTA IN THE GREAT WAR
    lberta & the Great War, an exhibitaion commemorating the role of Albertans in WW1, and including recreations of a trench, a parlour of the period, and a public square, opens in the Borealis Gallery on the main floor of the Federal Building.
  • Feb 23- Mar 3 CARLIER IN INDIA
    Alberta’s second most peripatetic minister, Agriculture & Forestry’s Oneil Carlier (the golden wings must go to Economic & Trade’s Deron Bilous), journeys to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, then on to Bombay (sorry, Mumbai), India. The reason for the stop in Dubai (where more than 70% of the population is south Asian) is to attend the Gulfood trade event with Alberta agrifood producers. The event, one of the largest in the world, attracts food and hospitality exhibitors and buyers from more than 160 countries. During his four days in the UAE, Carlier will host a “Canada Beef event” in a fancy restaurant at the Hilton, meet gov’t officials, and visit an Arab Camel dairy operation (watch it, Oneil, those things spit!) On Tuesday, he’ll fly to Mumbai (which everyone there still calls Bombay), conduct more meetings and host more meals—heavy on the barley, flax, and canola— before flying to Delhi on Thursday, for more meetings and a wreath-laying ceremony at Gandhi’s memorial. Home Saturday. Estimated cost for the minister, EA, and two AG dept. boffins: $49.2K.
  • Feb 26- Mar 1 RACHEL IN WASHINGTON
    Premier Rachel Notley makes her inaugural trip to Washington DC where, according to the press release, “she will engage with members of Congress as well as industry and think-tank community representatives to promote the importance of Alberta’s bilateral relationship with the U.S.” It is unlikely her trip will be any more useful in terms of promoting trade or reducing barriers (such as the restored softwood lumber tariffs) than those made by previous premiers. But it’ll be nice for Gitane De Silva, our agent in DC, and her three staffers to have a visit with the premier. Total cost for Notley, three staffers, one bureaucrat, and the security detail: $42K.
  • Mar 2 MANY HAPPS
    Happy birthday to Service Alberta and Status of Women Minister Stephanie McLean, born 30 years ago in Calgary.
  • Mar 2 NEW LEG SESSION
    in the Legislature for Lt. Gov. Lois Mitchell’s Throne Speech kicking off the spring session. No specifics yet on the legislation to be rolled out between now and June 2 (the official last day), although gov’t House Leader Brian Mason promises a “robust” agenda. Because the Legislature was prorogued prior to the session, however, any bills not passed last fall are dead. These include Culture & Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda’s Act to Provide for the Repatriation of Indigenous Peoples’ Sacred Ceremonial Objects, Edmonton-Centre MLA David Shepherd’s Active Schools Week Act, and Edmonton South West MLA Richard Dang’s Alberta Tourism Week Act.

This Week's Get a free sample

Week ending February 24th, 2017 Vol 31, No 22

SMILE & SPEND — Finance minister Joe Ceci delivered his third-quarter update that shows revenues and spending to be up and the deficit just as large as ever.
We’ve come to the fork in the road, we’ve turned the corner, and we’re on a new path for a better Alberta.
Jim Dinning, Finance minister in the Klein gov't, plays fast and loose with the metaphors in his first budget speech, delivered on May 9, 1993

Inside this week

Joe's latest update: more revenue, more spending, same huge deficit
A new poll: Rosers in the sticks, Dippers in the 'Chuk, & Tories in Cowtown
Lobbyist action: 7-Eleven wants booze in its Alberta stores
The ATA and other leftists call for the gov't to end private school funding - which might be the solution to Eggen's troubles with the Christians

Political Pulse

The latest Alberta poll, done for Postmedia by Quito Maggi’s Mainstreet shop, surveyed almost 2,600 Albertans by robo-call, gauging their their support for the provincial parties, the federal parties, and provincial unite-the-right movement.

The results yield no huge surprises, telling us what most other polls have been telling us for more than year, namely that the Wildrose have the highest approval rating province-wide (38% to the PCs’ 29% and the NDP’s 23%), but that that rating is skewed by the Rosers’ disproportionate appeal outside of the two big cities (WR 48%, PC 27%, NDP 16%).

In Calgary, the PCs lead with 38%, the NDP (rather surprisingly) are second with 26%, followed by the Rosers at 22%. The Dippers retain their Edmonton base with 43% approval—rather lower than the 65% they averaged in the 2015 vote.

Top Story

It could be worse. Alberta’s deficit—forecasted by Finance Minister Joe Ceci in his Q3 update Thursday to remain at $10.6B for the current fiscal year—sits at $2,225 per person. Newfoundland & Labrador’s projected per capita deficit is $3,050 per person for 2016-17, and…

Well, actually, the Newfs are the only ones with a higher per-capita deficit this year. No other province even has a bigger overall deficit, including the Wildrose opposition’s most favoured bête noir, Ontario, whose deficit this year will be $5B or $370 per person (cut in half since last year and about a quarter of its $19.3B peak eight years ago).

Okay, so what about debt? Here we find a more fruitful field. Joe’s people predict our combined debt, split roughly 60:40 between capital and general debt— will hit about $32B by Mar. 31—that’s $7,867 per citizen. The current servicing costs will amount to $1.27B. Failing a large increase in resource and tax revenue—which, based on the cavalier attitude displayed by Ceci this week would seem an irrelevancy anyway—the debt will rise to around $60B by 2018-19. Per capita: $14,752; servicing costs: $2.1B p.a.…