We sure hope someone inside the Government of Alberta will be taking the time to refer the newly announced Fair Deal Panel to the Red Tape Reduction department.
Both are programs announced by the UCP government after its election this past spring, and the newest announcement has left many Albertans scratching their heads over what exactly is going on in the legislature.
On the one hand, you have UCP MLAs, cabinet ministers and spin doctors delivering talking points about wasteful spending by government, the need for savings of taxpayers dollars, duplication of services and a desire to spend less and get more.
Then we have the Fair Deal Panel, which includes the Bow Valley’s own MLA Miranda Rosin. It has been tasked, among several areas of exploration, to look whether or not Alberta should create its own programs and services currently offered and operated by the federal government.
It is tasked with looking at if this province, like Ontario, should create its own stand alone police force and terminate its contract with the RCMP, the federal policing agency currently tasked with policing for most Albertans.
There is also talk of looking at creating a new provincial revenue agency to collect our own taxes and seeking an agreement to collect federal taxes on behalf of the federal government. Not to mention the creation of our own pension plan and removal of Alberta's funds and participation in the Canada Pension Plan.
These three ideas alone have not only already been rejected by a past commission, but they would require the creation of three entirely new bureaucratic institutions requiring untold amounts of taxpayers dollars to do so.
Duplication of government services, even if they are provided by a federal government disliked by Albertans, should be avoided and the UCP should consider the mandate of its other initiative to tackle unnecessary and wasteful red tape in this province as it turns its gaze to these ill-conceived ideas.
It seems mildly disingenuous for politicians in Alberta to be stoking the fire that is this province’s discontent for its situation, with some pretty obvious scapegoats as the causes of our misfortunes, and then use this sentiment to push forward with an agenda to distance this province from the rest of Canada.
Alberta is stronger and better off as part of Canada and any discussion or pursuit of a separatist agenda is nothing more than a waste of time, energy and public funds.
Funds that are in such short supply for provincial programs and services that children and vulnerable populations in this province are being asked to make do with less funding into the future due to our allegedly dire economic situation. We have the highest wages in Canada and lead the country in GDP growth, but it is an economic catastrophe so let's tighten those belts.
It would be really great if this government could focus on exercises like panels and task forces or inquiries into things that will create constructive policy changes instead of more political grandstanding on the national stage.
All this is part of the spectacle and the shock and awe approach to delivering news about major changes to public services and government funding we have seen for the past few weeks.
As Albertans, we have hardly had the time to digest the information being released before the next big thing hits. Without time to digest and understand the implications of changes, we move straight onto the next announcement and its reaction.
For the New Deal Panel, we hope the Canadians appointed to it don't end up shooting Alberta in the foot by putting any more gas on this fire.