I mentioned earlier how I consider the Alberta New Democrat to be a dying breed. So I thought I’d give some suggestions I have that could either take them to the top or further their race to obscurity.
My suggestion is for the Alberta NDP adopt a “Make Alberta the new Norway” strategy.
It’s been considered before.
Norway has roughly the same population as Alberta, similar climate, and makes most of its revenue off oil and gas.
Well, at least it used to. You see, when oil times were good, Norway managed to bank almost $400 billion USD. Meanwhile, Alberta put away a measly $14 billion CAD. Norway is living off it’s interest, and is the only country in the Western world to not be in a debt in these “tough economic times” (that’s right, 750,000 hits).
Alberta is thinking of cutting services, while Norwegians enjoy free health care, post-secondary education, and a social safety net (likely responsible for their high employment rates).
Despite being an Oil giant, Norway is rated among the top among environmental countries, while Canada slips down the ladder, mostly due to unregulated tar sands development.
So what does the NDP need to suggest to Albertans to get the province back on track to prosperity that their Scandinavian counterparts enjoy?
- Call for the creation of a publicly owned oil company (that’ll scare the right!) and phrase it as “taking back our oil” or “getting our fair share.” Who needs to worry about oil companies leaving if you have your own. This company would also follow strict environmental and labour guidelines, which would be easier to implement in-house.
- Create a fair royalty rate system. The resources belong to Albertans, not foreign multi-national oil companies. So why aren’t Albertans being paid fairly for them?
- Reverse energy-deregulation. It failed, end-of-story. Rebuild the provincial power companies.
- Reverse the MLA pay hikes. That money goes to everyone.
- Break the super-board up again. Cancel all bonuses to the over-paid executive
- Once these new crown corporations start feeding the provincial coffers, use surplus money to start filling the Heritage Fund (or dedicate a certain percentage of oil revenues to fill the fund). Ideally this fund needs to be an order of magnitude larger within a decade or less (I haven’t crunched the numbers, but the bigger the better).
Now, I’m not sure how to present a strategy like this (with more flushed out details) to the media without getting blasted for suggesting a nationalized (provincialized?) oil company. But perhaps the ideas been so berated by neo-liberalism, that its time to dust it off and reconsider it.
And hey, if we can frame the entire platform as a we can be better than Norway thing, it just might raise enough eyebrows to be heard.
Norway just re-elected it’s centre-left Labor party to government. Imagine where Alberta would be if the last sixty years had been dominated by that side of the spectrum? What about the next sixty?