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Libya v. Alberta: No danger of regime change in flat 'broke' Alberta

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Muammar Gaddafi

Political stability in Alberta? We've got it!

That may be one unheralded benefit of electing Progressive Conservative governments decade after decade here in Alberta -- there’s almost no chance Western air forces will bomb the crap out of us to engineer what is charmingly known in geopolitical circles nowadays as "regime change."

Why bother? Even without an expensive and time consuming bombing campaign and a bloody change in regime as happened four years ago in Libya -- which under the regime of the late Col. Muammar Gaddafi used to capture 90 per cent of the revenue generated by the country's oil -- in the last 20 years Alberta has managed to get only about 10 per cent!

Libya: 90 per cent. Alberta: 10 per cent. Think about that. You'd have to pay more in bribes to the regime you put in place to replace such a government!

So never mind Norway, let's compare Alberta to Libya. It makes for an interesting contrast, don't you think? Before the Libyan dictator was overthrown by the West in 2011 (and apparently replaced by various factions with an inclination toward anti-Western jihad, but never mind that just now) Libya was pumping about 1.5 million barrels of oil a day.

The Libyan government collected about $27-billion US a year from that output, accounting for approximately 75 per cent of the country's budget.

When the Gaddafi Regime was overthrown, though, Western Oil companies began to push for a new royalty regime that would grant them… wait for it… 30 per cent of the revenue.

Apparently they'd been perfectly willing to work the Libyan fields for 10 per cent, but argued that if they got 30 per cent they'd be much more fairly compensated for their efforts. This leaves only a paltry 70 per cent for the Libyans.

That seems to be where North Africa is headed now that the governments of the West -- backed up by their laser guidance systems and jet bombers, including a few from the Royal Canadian Air Force -- are in the Libyan driver's seat, after a fashion, anyway.

So, even after regime change, while the Libyans produced less oil than Alberta, they managed to collect $40 billion in royalties in 2013, notwithstanding efforts by local militias to try to bypass the country's government and sell oil directly, which may account for why the Libyan government's estimates were off by $10 billion.

In many circles in Africa and the Middle East, this is change is perceived as highway robbery by Western imperialists, an absolute outrage. They figure the West has squeezed them till the pips squeaked, and they may be right!

Back here in Alberta, Canada, meanwhile, our government never received more than 40 per cent of the revenues captured from petroleum production.

That was during the rule of the Fidel-Castro-like Peter Lougheed, leader of the first Progressive Conservative government, whose position was that about 30 per cent was a fair return for the owners of the oil, gas and bitumen that was being extracted, that is to say, the people of Alberta.

Subsequent Progressive Conservative premiers who followed him have chipped away at that return a bit at a time ever since -- with a short-lived reversal of the pattern by Ed Stelmach, and we all know what happened to him -- to the enormous benefit of Big Oil.

So here we are, after 20 years or so of barely managing to capture 10 per cent of the revenue produced by our resources in the Richest Place on Earth and we're told by the same Progressive Conservative government that we're broke.

Right now, if we believe Premier Jim Prentice, our current royalty returns on petroleum extraction equal plus or minus nothing! You heard that right: zip, zero, zilch, nada.

With 90 to 99 per cent of the money generated by our petroleum resources flowing directly into the pockets of Alberta's oil industry, they're in a position to tell us to do whatever they want, whenever they want, even if that entails shutting down the Opposition party and moving it to the other side of the Legislature, semi-officially establishing a one-party state.

And what's next on their agenda for us now, you ask? Why, lower pensions, lower wages, fewer public services, less health care coverage, of course!

After all, as Premier Prentice just told us: "We're all in this together. We got into this collectively as Albertans. We're going to get out of it together."

Under the circumstances, it's hard to feel very reassured by those words.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, AlbertaPolitics.ca.

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