Dear Premier Ed Stelmach,
Please find below six-easy steps on how to compromise the interests of Albertans on the royalty review.
1) Appoint a friendly-voice such as Bill Hunter to chair a committee to review and make recommendations on Alberta’s natural resource revenue framework.
2) When Bill Hunter releases the report, do not give details but react to the report as if it will include radical and dangerous changes to Alberta’s economy (focus on dangerous).
Stay quiet on the royalties issue and give the opposition parties and oil companies time to post their opposition or support of the report (this will keep us from compromising the $15,000 annual donations to the Alberta PC Party from the oil industry).
The tone of the report should be critical of Ralph Klein’s Tory government, but the recommendations should be fairly moderate and tame (DO NOT bring up the fact that you were a central member of Klein’s cabinet for a decade).
3) After weeks of silence, muse about responding to the report during your ‘State of the Province’ address. If you change your mind and decide to announce the next day, don’t worry about it, the prime-time address will only cost $145,000. We have lots of money in the PR budget, so we can do both.
Respond to the report by only adopting some portions of the report (you will know which ones to adopt when we get the speech from the Public Affairs Bureau).
This will allow you to appear as a moderate who is balancing the interests of Albertans and the oil industry. Though you will deny it, you will clearly be compromising the interests of Albertans to the oil companies by not collecting a reasonable share of royalties (remember of those $15,000 annual political donations, Premier!)
Important! stay stern, Premier. DO NOT be as obvious as to tell the media to “please don’t call this a compromise“.
4) Use the Public Affairs Bureau to buy hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of advertising in all the major Alberta newspapers (including a full-page ad in the front-section of the Globe & Mail). The ads should reinforce the idea that you did not compromise (see 3 for explanation). Ads should include blue and orange colours.
5) The fallout from your announcement should overshadow smaller and more damaging issues such as Auditor General’s report slamming Ralph Klein’s government and the Department of Energy for failing to collect billions of dollars in royalty revenues since the 1990’s (AGAIN, DO NOT bring up the fact that you were a central member of Klein’s cabinet for a decade – this is critically important!).
Also, stick to your guns and don’t fire the Minister responsible for the Department of Energy, Minister Mel Knight. He supported and delivered votes for you in the PC leadership race. You owe him. Think about sending him out of the province for a couple of weeks after the review to let things cool down.
6) Stand proud, sit back, and enjoy your heroic glory, Premier Stelmach.
Albertans won’t have a clue what happened.