Taxpayers federation urges Alberta premier to use Ralph Klein tactics

Premier Jim Prentice is the target of a campaign by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation urging him to solve Alberta's financial problems by following the playbook of Ralph Klein.
The Canadian Taxpayers' Federation wants Premier Jim Prentice to cut government spending like Ralph Klein did in the 1990s. (Canadian Taxpayers' Federation)

Premier Jim Prentice is the target of a campaign by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation that urges him to act more like Ralph Klein.

Alberta premier from 1992 to 2006, Klein eliminated the province’s deficit by making massive cuts to government spending in the 1990s.

Alberta now faces a $7-billion revenue shortfall due to dropping oil prices, leading Prentice to muse about introducing tax increases and running a deficit.

The CTF said the premier could avoid those measures by lowering the province’s per capita spending from $10,754 to $8,857, the amount paid by British Columbia.

The group is urging people to print a picture of Klein from their website and mail it to Prentice.

“Ralph Klein was loved by many Albertans because he made tough spending decisions, paid off the debt and created Alberta’s low tax environment,” CTF Prairie director Colin Craig said in a news release.

“People should send Premier Prentice a picture of Ralph Klein and deliver a friendly, but firm message — ‘this is the type of premier we want you to be.’”

But the target of the campaign said spending cuts are not enough to solve Alberta’s financial woes.

Prentice said Alberta’s situation is much different than it was in Klein’s day, and revenues have to go up too.

“If we are to do nothing, then the people need to understand that Alberta's contingency fund would be gone in about eight months,” he said.

“We would burn through the Heritage Fund in about two and a half years, and along the way would lose our Triple A credit rating and would be substantially in debt.”

Prentice is in Washington this week to meet with members of the U.S. Congress about the Keystone XL pipeline.


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