Alberta Politics

Remember “Albexit?” Economist and political pundit Jack Mintz to lead UCP economic advisory panel

With the international price of oil taking another nose-dive this week, Premier Jason Kenney announced at a press conference this afternoon that Jack Mintz, a fellow at the School of Public Policy at the University of Calgary and board member of Imperial Oil Limited and Morneau Shepell, will lead the latest in a series of expert panels appointed by the United Conservative Party government.

Mintz’s panel will be tasked with providing economic advice to the government in light of the recent drop in oil prices. Mintz tweeted the idea about 5 hours before Kenney announced it, leaving political observers to wonder which came first: the tweet or the appointment?

The challenges facing Alberta has been clear for a long time: the Alberta government is over-reliant on revenues from unreliable oil and gas royalties to fund the daily operations of government. This has been the case for decades, including all the previous times the international price of oil has collapsed, leaving the province in an economic crisis.

The need to find alternative revenue streams is something the UCP and previous governments have been unable to accept or accomplish.

Kenney has already said a provincial sales tax is off the table, so a major solution favoured by many economist is likely a non-starter.

Mintz’s views about government spending and economics are no secret in Alberta, nor are they to Conservative politicians and political leaders who he has lent his advice to in the past. While it might be unfair to prejudge Mintz’s yet-to-be-named panel, it would be a great surprise if a strong dose of austerity, privatization, or a version of Janice MacKinnon’s Report on steroids were not included in its advice.

As one of the province’s most prominent conservative economists his appointment to lead this panel is probably predictable, but it is his political views that make the choice more interesting.

For years, Mintz has moonlighted as a political pundit in the pages of the Postmedia-owned Financial Post, penning a regular opinion column that has included some fairly cringeworthy claims targeting Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s federal Liberal government, Alberta’s former New Democratic Party government and, more recently, providing fuel for supporters of Wexit and Alberta’s separation from Canada.

A column published in June 2015 aimed at the newly elected government of then-premier Rachel Notley claimed at “Alberta is not yet Greece, but it’s heading along that path,” in reference to the Greek economic crisis of the mid-2010s.

In “Alberta has better reasons to Albexit than Britain did for Brexit,” published in December 2018, claimed that “if Brexit happened, then Albexit is just as possible” and “[w]hatever negatives Alberta would face are easily swamped by the positives that would come with separation.”

And a recent column following Mintz’s participation at a right-wing political conference focused on Alberta separatism touted a “nuclear option” and ended with the claim that “…Albertans are looking for the shackles to be taken off.”

While the advice given by Mintz’s panel will certainly be of interest to many Albertans, how his own political views are reflected in the recommendations might be just as interesting, and concerning, to watch.

10 replies on “Remember “Albexit?” Economist and political pundit Jack Mintz to lead UCP economic advisory panel”

Great. Just what we need. Another blue ribbon panel that is not permitted to look at the entire picture. (Everything is on the table, except for those things that are off the table.) Your comments about Dr. Mintz are bang on – but I am more worried about his “An Alberta Pension Plan could be a slam-dunk” for the Financial Post which clearly shows his inability to separate the political from the economic. But Premier Kenney made some interesting statements today about this being non-partisan. He has an opportunity to show some real leadership and appoint a wide variety of people to the panel. If he appoints people from business and labour, from the right and the left and the centre, we will know if he is serious. If it is like the other panels, we should assume the recommendations are already written and Matt Wolfe is currently hard at work drafting an op-ed that will claim to have been written by Dr. Mintz. It will be an interesting week.

Thanks for pointing out Dr. Mintz’s separatist leanings, Dave. It reminds me of when some version of the Reform Party were lighting their hair on fire when the BQ were the official opposition. I guess separatists are OK sometimes.

Does anyone on the left or left-of-centre have any doubt that Jack Mintz will do for Alberta what “trickle-down economics” did for Jason Kenney. Where are the grown-ups in this province when you really need them?

Yeah, sure Mr. Kenney a PST is off the table – for now. Although, he feel he doth protest too much. Let’s remember, Kenney was the guy who signed the “grassroots guarantee” and then quickly quashed that when it became inconvenient for him.

Another day, another blue ribbon, expert or whatever they are calling it this time panel. Mr. Mintz is somewhat amicable to a PST. Perhaps the panel will recommend a PST, say to replace corporate tax or along with reduced personal tax rates. I think that is the gist of some Conservatives position on this.

Whatever they are, Mr. Kenney will of course accept the recommendations from his latest carefully handpicked panel, because they will be what he wanted. He will make sure of that.

If you’re not just a bot or a troll, then might I suggest that if you don’t like our host’s opinions, stop reading his blog …

Tthe facthere is another thing about Jack Mintz that, in my opinion, has not seen enough sunlight. That is the fact that Jack Mintz and Janice Mackinnon have worked together that the U of C School of Public Policy (which, in reality, is an energy corp created propaganda machine operating under the incorrect assumption of the legitimacy of the university) have worked together on tearing down the Alberta government’s involvement in social benefit spending including exactly what Mackinnon was tasked with in her task force. They co-published papers saying exactly what the results of the Mackinnon report were.

Not sure what happened with my grammar/spell-check. The first sentence should read, “There is another thing …”

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