“If Alberta increased its tax rates by $11 billion our province would still have the lowest tax rate in Canada.”

This was only one of the notable figures presented by Kevin Taft at the launch of his new book, Follow the Money, held last night at the Garneau Theatre in Edmonton. The outgoing MLA and former Liberal Party leader released his latest book along with a short film directed by award-winning director Tom Radford.

The book and the film focus on what Alberta’s reach-for-the-bottom taxation rate really means for our province and the potential that is lost when our government does not even collect its own resource revenue targets.

Follow the Money breaks down the spending patterns of the provincial government over the past 30 years by looking beyond the basic numbers and by delving into demographics that tell a deeper story about spending and revenue. Essentially, while corporate profits have skyrocketed in Alberta, the share of wealth that is invested into our public services has shrunk dramatically.

When you actually look at the numbers, Alberta does not come anywhere close to having a spending problem, as some politicians on the political right would have us believe. Alberta has a revenue problem.

Perhaps one of the advantages of being an outgoing MLA is that Dr. Taft is not restricted by a party-line (nor do I have the impression that he would care to listen to a party-line). The ideas proposed in Dr. Taft’s new book clash with the new “business friendly” direction that Tory MLA-turned-Liberal leader Raj Sherman is trying to steer his party, which could make for some interesting drama in the upcoming Spring session of the Assembly.

Politics aside, Dr. Taft is doing Albertans a great service by putting these numbers on the table and opening the debate on Alberta’s resource revenue and taxation policy.

Among the more than 350 people attending the launch were MLAs Laurie Blakeman and Rachel Notley. Also present were Public School Trustees Michael Janz, Sarah Hoffman, and Heather Mackenzie.

Here are what others are saying about Follow the Money:

Sheila Pratt: Alberta ‘leaving too much on the table,’ ex-Liberal leader says

Darcy Henton: Kevin Taft wonders where the money went

Samantha Power: Follow the money New book examines where Alberta’s wealth is spent