A recent poll published in today’s Calgary HeraldÂ reveals that 88% feel that Albertans are not getting our fair share of the royalties.Â To add to that, 67% of respondents want the government to inact the full measure of the Royalty Review recommendations.
Here are some of my comments on the royalty issue:
Thank you for your letter regarding the recent Royalty Review in Alberta.Â As MLA for Calgary MountainView and Shadow Minister of Environment, it is my privilege to respond to your concerns.
As a politician, I am not a geologist or an economist per se, my job is to survey the wealth of information, listen to the people, and make decisions that are in the long-term best interests of the province as a whole.Â To that end, what may be good for the province as a whole may not be overly beneficial for one segment of the population but I always try to be as balanced as possible.
It is my belief that the growth weâ€™ve experienced in the province over the past number of years has been too much too fast.Â I hear from so many people that the boom has not benefited them at all with higher living costs and wages that have not kept pace with inflation.Â Although some may disagree, I believe in a strong role for government to safeguard vulnerable segments of the population from negative effects of unsustainable economic activity.Â With the gap between the rich and the poor widening more and more in the province, one cannot assume that benefits will simply trickle down.Â I would like to see managed growth in Alberta where we are able to keep up with environmental, social and infrastructure needs.
All of this to say that we must ensure Albertans have something of long-term value to show for the development of this one-time non-renewable resource.
The first line of the Alberta Royalty Review Panelâ€™s Executive Summary reads: â€˜Albertans do not receive their fair share from energy development.â€™Â Â I believe this is true. This situation has resulted from the Progressive Conservative governmentâ€™s inability to plan and to manage the non-renewable resource sector and frankly, to stand up for all Albertans.Â We need to take a close look at the current economic situation in Alberta, and make some tough decisions about the direction we would like to see our growth take us.
With the recent release of Auditor General Fred Dunnâ€™s report, the secrecy and mismanagement of Albertaâ€™s energy royalties is even more evident.Â The Auditor Generalâ€™s report shows a government that is deliberately misleading Albertans. Under existing arrangements he found that at least $1 billion in additional royalties could have been collected annually since 2000.
Albertaâ€™s non-renewable resources belong to all Albertans including those of generations to come.Â Companies are contracted to develop this resource on behalf of Albertans in a business arrangement in a free market. Albertans deserve their full share. Once these resources have been extracted, they are gone forever and we have a duty to think of the future, when our non-renewable resource base may be less robust.
Changes must be made in Albertaâ€™s royalty structure.Â The government needs to get this right, which means we must approach these changes in a measured and informed manner, where people and industry know what to expect. We must develop and stick to a clear plan that will lead them to a sustainable and prosperous future.
Thank you again for your interest in this issue.Â Correspondence such as yours helps us to be more effective as Albertaâ€™s Official Opposition.Â For my part, as MLA for Calgary MountainView, I will continue to fight for a fair share for all Albertans.Â If you are interested in learning more about our policies, please visit http://www.albertaliberalcaucus.com/, or contact our office.
Dr. David Swann, MLA Calgary Mountain View