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Postponing the Day of Reckoning, Alberta-style

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 J. S. Woodsworth

So what's with the Redford Government’s receding horizon on tough decisions, d'ya think?

You bet they're going to make some tough decisions. That's for sure! The premier said so in her pretentiously titled State of the Province Address Thursday night. Again and again. So just you wait.

Heck, the finance minister was saying it for days before that.

So when will we see these actual tough decisions? In the budget on March 7? At the promised economic summit? When the bitumen pipeline to Kitimat is finished? The one to Texas? Later? Even later? Later than that? Maybe… Maybe not…

OK, people. Here's the deal. I think I've got it figured out. Just remember where you heard it first.

Premier Alison Redford, Finance Minister Doug Horner and all the rest of the Progressive Conservative Legislative caucus -- except, of course, the 20 or so who are continually rumoured to be on the verge of forming a third right-wing party, joining the Wildrose or whatever -- are on their knees nightly praying for oil prices to go up.

Oh Lord, deliver unto us a little tension in the Strait of Hormuz, especially if it bumps the price of oil up to $200-per-bbl. for a spell!

But like the small-c conservatives to whom He has granted dominion here in Alberta, God Himself may be undecided about this -- if only because he’s receiving so many counter petitions from the Wildrose prayer room.

Father in Heaven, as You said, blessed are the peacemakers….

Given their base, it must just about kill the Wildrose brain trust to be praying for peace in the Middle East, but there you have it. Under the circumstances, there's nothing else for it, End Times, Armageddon, prophecy or no!

From the Progressive Conservative perspective, if only the price of oil will go up, Redford and her government will be absolved from ever having to make any hard decisions. God will be in His heaven and a the rest of us will vote PC, so all will be right with the world.

In the mean time, the tough decisions can just keep receding over the horizon, so that while the image of tough management perseveres, the wailing and rending of garments usually associated with actually making difficult decisions is postponed, hopefully for all of eternity.

In the mean time, we'll look busy by having an economic summit while we wait for a bitumen pipeline to anywhere to be completed -- a process that with bad luck for the Tories and good luck for the environment could take a decade or more.

On the other hand, from the Wildrose point of view, if the current mildly depressed state of energy prices will linger only a few months more -- we can all agree, I think, that barring the introduction of cold fusion plants this isn't going to be a forever thing -- the Tories will continue to look increasingly incompetent or will finally be forced to put up a target at which the Opposition can take potshots.

God forbid, the Wildrosers and the Tories most certainly agree, that a fair and sustainable tax regime be adopted. That way taxpayers might actually have a stake in their government -- and could an NDP premier be far behind?

All I can say is it's enough to make one long for the days when the CCF-NDP leadership seemed to have its own direct line to the Almighty -- J.S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas, William Irvine, Stanley Knowles, Bill Blaikie, c'mon down!

So don't expect any light, divine or otherwise, to be cast on what the tough choices are likely to be made in Alberta between now and Budget Day, March 7.

And don't be too shocked if there are no hard choices in the Budget Speech either -- only references to how they're gonna be made, and soon, and how tough they'll be when they are.

The economic summit will be after the Budget, but don't be heartbroken if there are no hard decisions recommended by the lucky summiteers, whoever they turn out to be.

And so on, forever and ever, amen.

Thus endeth the lesson.

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

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