You know, one would think I would be happy that I'm getting a cheque from the government. However, our great leader Ralph Klein decided that, rather than spend all the money that the province of Alberta is making off the high oil prices, he'd just sit on it. So it comes as no surprise that the rest of the country asked if they could use it if we aren't going to.
Of course, this is all PR; that's Klein's specialty. You don't spend ten years in government doing basically fuck all except laying people off and assaulting homeless people and getting pie throwers charged with assault without some sort of idea how to keep the people happy, and he knows how. The precision of the announcements and speeches, he's done this hundreds of times; he does it so seamlessly that it's almost beautiful to watch until you realize you're going to have to deal with the consequences of his actions.
So, for those of you who spend too much time in the Alberta mindset to rationalize out what it stands for, I'll spell it out for you;
1. Alberta has lots of money due to a couple million sudden and catastrophic avalanches that occured in the region between 400-200 million years ago, which buried a great deal of coral reef life which was subsequentially condensed by the weight pressed down on it by future avalanches and then melted by the heat of the earth, until it finally became what we call crude oil.
2. Albertans feel that due to the fact some guys murdered/conquered/enslaved a great deal of first nation populations in this region some 150-200 years ago, all this oil, and the money earned by it, belongs exclusively to them.
3. Nearly all Albertans believe that the federal Liberal party, currently holding the most seats in a parliament that was elected by 60% of the eligable population, has an active agenda to steal all of Alberta's money. This is first due to the National Energy Program, which was passed in the 80s by the Trudeau government because it was felt by the majority power that Alberta should share it's oil wealth with other provinces to help their own economies that weren't abudant in expensive commodities. See point #2. This was recently enforced by what has been dubbed "The sponsorship scandal." This was an incident in Quebec that involved people scared that Quebec was going to seperate and a bunch of opportunists who decided they'd try and get rich off it some ten years ago. The party that housed these people was of course the Liberal Party. But we'll discuss this some other day. The point is the people of Alberta are so scared that the Liberals are going to steal their money that they're completely oblivious to the fact that their own Conservative Government, lead by Ralph Klein, is actually stealing/wasting all their money. That billions of creatures died violently to produce, long before mammals even evolved.
4. Ralph Klein, Alberta's folk hero, saved the province from it's deficit to the country & so forth by cutting just about every government service to shreds. He has been somehow stopped at Health Insurance, which numerous attempts to privitize were met with outrage from both the majority of Edmonton (the most left wing area in Alberta by far) and the Federal Government. However, it's safe to say that what Ralph Klein did could have been done by just about anyone. It doesn't take a lot of effort or planning to stop writing cheques when you have absolute power. Anyway, the impotent government charged low taxes (though still not quite as low as in the United States, ironically) so the people got their beer and were happy, and since Ralph Klein wasn't a liberal, he got elected.
So taking this all in, we can now piece together what the last week or two of shennategins have been about. Alberta has tons of money because everyone wants our oil and is willing to pay nearly $70 a barrell for it, thanks to Hurricane Katrina. Ralph, being the sly bastard he is, decides to sit on it, not planning any use for it so that the rest of the country will figure we're just gonna save it and ask for it. Naturally, they do, because we do nothing with the huge revenues we get from the oilfields but buy votes with rebates and fly Ralph and his buddies all over the world Air Force One style, and Albertans immediately go apeshit and start ranting about how the immoral Liberal government is trying to steal their money. So Ralph, having dispersed attention away from the fact we have eight digit surpluses in budgets and they're doing nothing useful with it is now free to come in, give every Albertan a cheque for some dollar amount and look like the hero. Brilliant, except when you factor in that we could build a magnetic rail between Edmonton and Calgary, and have it take less than an hour commute for relatively cheap. We could convert the provincial infrastructure to green power and sell ALL of our oil and get greater surpluses, while dramatically improving the air quality which would reduce Health Care costs. We could retrain all these bankrupt ranchers and give them a new means of supporting themselves (if they're willing.) Hell, if you're not willing to have vision you could build a 400 foot tall statue of your savior, Ralph Klein, that breathes fire and pisses oil onto a bunch of liberals. But we can do a lot better than a freakin' cheque.