We think we may have a small case of whiplash…. we actually don’t disagree with one of Mr. Lorne Gunter‘s articles… wow… Mr. Gunter as you may know, is a right-leaning columnist at the Edmonton Journal who’s articles are usually waaaaay off the mark (in our books, of course).

In today’s article he criticizes the Klein Tories…

Clips the article…

Arrogance of Klein Tories as bad as the Liberals’
What possessed our Premier to say extra revenues are nopne of our business?

It was infuriating this week to watch federal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale use the House of Commons finance committee to launch the federal Liberals re-election campaign with insincere promises of tax cuts, most of which won’t kick in until 2010 or 2011. …

But it was more enraging to hear Alberta Premier Ralph Klein insist any money his government receives over and above the revenues projected in its annual budget belong to the government and are no concern of the opposition or the legislature. Whether he realizes it or not, when Klein says that he is also saying they are no concern of voters and taxpayers, either.

Yet clearly they are very much our concern.

You may feel it is only fair that oil and gas companies pay royalties on the non-renewable resources they pump from under this province. After all the resources do not belong to them, they are public. But that doesn’t mean the resources are owned by the provincial government, either.

Alberta‘s resources are the property of Albertans. We merely elect governments to manage them on our behalf. That is an enormous power to give to a tiny group of people. So we elect an entire legislature to hold the government to account.

It is not enough that we voters can turn the government out every three or four years. For there to be effective accountability, the opposition must be able to scrutinize and publicize government actions on an ongoing basis, even if we don’t particularly like what the opposition has in mind.


Opposition is right

But when the opposition leaders are right, they’re right. And both Liberal Leader Kevin Taft and NDP boss Brian Mason were spot-on this week in their criticism of the Klein government’s unsupervised, unaccountable spending spree.

In its budget last spring, the Klein government outlined plans to spend $25.8 billion this year, for a province with just 3.3 million residents. That is already $7,800 per man, woman and child, far and away the highest spending level of any government in the country, federal or provincial.

Still, Alberta is likely to have revenues this year approaching $35 billion. So, since the budget, and since the legislature was last in session, the Klein government has pledged to spend an additional $7 billion — nearly a third more than planned — all without additional legislation, or debate, or even so much as a question answered in the legislature.

And just what are the Tories so preoccupied with in this fall sitting that they haven’t time to answer questions about the surplus? Well, there’s an act to clean up ambiguous wording in Post-Secondary Learning Act, some “minor changes” to the Police Act, a bill to let unborn babies sue their parents for negligent driving, a ban on criminals making money off the notoriety of their crimes and an act to foster “a spirit of community and good relations among current and former MLAs.”

Busy, very busy.

So when Taft says “If the premier thinks he can spend taxpayer dollars at his whim, it really is time for him to go,” and Mason says, “Mr. Klein is getting to the point where he thinks he’s entitled to absolute power in this province,” they’re both right.

Klein’s Tories announce $7 billion in spending (twice as much per capita as Goodale), then get mad when anyone suggests they might want to let the opposition question them about it.

That’s every bit as appallingly arrogant.”

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