1. Unify Alberta
For too long there have been negative rivalries between cities and regions within this province. It’s ok to have a sports team rivalry, it’s another to hate a City or region. This will not help our province especially when we are trying to rebuild and deal with a federal government that does not care about us.
Each area and municipality will have its strengths. Rather than compete head to head with another City for the same industries government should help each region maximize its strengths. Not only will this start to unify the province it will build a stronger province economically. Areas will no longer be duplicating resources to compete for the same industry or target market. We have too small a population to be competing like this.
Another aspect critical to unifying Alberta is to encourage Albertans to buy Albertan first. Support our own businesses keeps money in our province.
This is one of the most important and one of the first steps that has to occur. Having lived my entire 55 years in this province I can say without hesitation I have never felt so much resentment by the rest of the country. Even provinces that used to be our allies are now against us. We are essentially 3 million people with 30 million people putting a target on our backs. Supporting our own province first is one of the first steps in rebuilding and unifying this province.
2. Deficit / Debt
What one learns through the ‘school of hard knocks’ in the small business world is if you are not making money the first thing to do is to find where it is being wasted. There are always ways to trim costs without hurting the business.
The best analogy I can use is a Costco. They have 15-20 tills open, each with two people working each station. That company knows those employees getting all the customers through efficiently is what ultimately makes them money. If they need to cut costs the tills would be one of the last places they would look at. Consider those employees working the tills as front line workers. Just like a nurse or a teacher.
When looking to cut costs one of the last places to do that would be the front line workers. In any business and especially in a bureaucracy there will always be areas of ‘waste’ that can be trimmed. Without affecting the front line people. In fact if you want to know where the waste is, ask the frontline people, they see it every day.
Looking for ways to cut government spending at the bureaucratic level would be one of the first things I would look at when tackling the deficit. Not touching front line workers and definitely not looking at another way to tax anyone or business.
Once costs become under control then one can look reducing debt. Those of us who were around the Klein years know how painful it can be. We also know that the rewards of debt reduction far out weigh the pain. I believe one of the main reasons Alberta did so well in the early 2000’s was the fact that we were out of debt in the 90’s and that positioned ourselves for the 2000’s.
Could we do it the same way Mr. Klein did, not likely. It is a different time and a different generation. This doesn’t mean it can’t be done or shouldn’t be done.
Taking away the right of a unionized worker to have a secret vote is removing a fundamental democratic right that unions should support. It is completely against our way of life to remove this right from workers or anyone for that manner.
I would install systems that would make unions more accountable to their workers. Innovative ways that put more rights in the hands of workers.
It is a fact that with the economic system we follow in North America, 8 out of 10 jobs are created by small businesses (50 employees or less0).
Any small business person will tell you that increasing minimum wage does nothing to help small businesses. In fact a minimum wage does more damage to employment opportunities than the small benefit it has for the very few.
People will remember in 2005 when drive-thru’s would have signs saying the drive thru was closed because of lack of workers. The best way to increase wages is to increase employment opportunities. This can only be done by supporting small businesses. The more small businesses that flourish, the more jobs there are and the more competition for employees. This is simple supply and demand.
This government showed a real lack of this concept when a feed lot was closed in Okotoks. 80 jobs were lost and it seemed like a non event. What the government failed to recognize is that there were truckers that brought in the cattle every day. There were farmers that supplied the feed for the animals that now had no where to sell their product. There were fuel stops that were selling less fuel. There were restaurants and other ancillary businesses that suffered. The effect of small or medium sized businesses have on an economy is far reaching. These businesses need to be supported.
Farming is a way of life. Mandating legislation without consideration of this is at best, disrespectful. Mandating Workman’s Compensation shows a lack of understanding of farms and small businesses. Employers are smart enough to know when there is a benefit to employee safety and well being. Replacing employees is stressful and expensive. Governments that don’t recognize this shouldn’t be mandating policy.
Buying Alberta products should always be first. A government should publically admonish any restaurant business that would by its product from a source outside Alberta if that product is readily available here.
A generation ago we would sell our farm products to foreign countries (grain, life stock etc.). Now those foreign companies are buying our farms and essentially our food source. A government should be finding out why a farmer see’s less and less value in owning and running a farm such that they are willing to sell this resource to foreign entities. If we are not careful our children will be buying food grown in our province from a company on another continent. That is assuming they want to sell it to us.
Farms and farming is the back bone of this province and should be cherished and protected. This can only be done by protecting and respecting those that work them 7 days a week, 365 days a year…the Farmer and the Farming Family.
It doesn’t make sense to try to save the world and destroy our economy. If one wants to be a leader in the environment start in our own back yard. Lets take care of our lakes, streams, mountains and parkways. These are our backyards that we play in every weekend. It only makes sense that if we learn to take care of these and teach our youth how to care for them we will have a backyard to play in for generations. This doesn’t mean heavy legislation, it means education and some basic changes in behaviour that protect and preserve our environment. If every province and country does this then the world environment will change. It makes no sense to try to alter the global environment while countries half a world away are completely disregarding theirs and at a much larger magnitude then Alberta.
By the time the next provincial election occurs there will be a great number of new voters who are presently in high school. Working with our youth to understand better how the economy works may make them a more educated voter. Getting them to understand when a government goes into debt, it is their future that is being spent. We want to educate the youth that the responsibility of government is to take the public’s money in the form of taxes and use it responsibly to benefit the majority of the people, not the vocal few.
7. Special Interest Groups
Everyone has a cause that is of the utmost importance to them. Special interest groups need to understand that there is only so much money to go around and although their cause may be important, they may not be able to get everything they want. The government has to be responsible and reasonable on how it cares for and manages everyone. As the song goes: “You can’t always get what you want….”