The problem with a consumption tax is that it discourages spending and it’s distasteful to an electorate which prides itself by being sales tax free . Implementing a sales tax now would be done amidst a climate of mismanagement operated by the PC government over the past ten years. Pay raises to the provincial public sector have significantly outpaced private sector pay. An entitlement culture has permeated the halls of Edmonton’s legislature and the old boys’ club downtown Calgary is starting to feel the pinch with the oil price falling off a cliff.
At one point our old Premier Stelmach attempted to make a course adjustment with his new “royalty framework” which ultimately had the goal of capturing more of the resource revenue for the benefit of the province’s purse. We know what happened to him and we know what he’s thinking now in the context of the red ink starting to flow from the pens of government accountants and big talk of a new sales tax.
New revenue generating ideas concocted by the Prentice government will all be perpetrated from a position of weakness generated by years of “living for today” and cowering to the demands of public sector unions and oil executives. Is he now asking for a “mandate” or will he step up and lead the province with some acknowledgment that it’s not the average tax paying Albertan who has created the revenue mess – it’s the policies and mismanagement drummed up by his party.