rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

Alberta budget primer: when they say 'tough decisions,' they really mean … 'decisions that will be tough on you'

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca for as little as $5 per month!

Alison Redford

Oh, we’ll squeeze you till the pips squeak, Premier Alison Redford seemed to be promising Albertans yesterday, as we nervously awaited the provincial budget that is to be brought down, possibly in flames, this afternoon.

Well, we're all really looking forward to that out here in the pothole-riddled Richest Place on Earth, I can assure you!

This is different, of course, from the promises Redford was promising back when it looked like the Wildrose Party under Danielle Smith might actually win the provincial election in April 2012 -- and then squeeze us till the pips squeaked.

Well, we the voters of Alberta clearly rejected the Wildrose pipsqueak … and apparently got a Wildrose pipsqueak instead. What's wrong with this picture?

The problem may simply be that when our Progressive Conservative government and its leaders say one thing, they actually mean another. If we only had the glossary, we could have figured out what they really had in mind.

As a public service, then, here is Alberta Diary’s plain-language guide to Alberta political terminology. We hope profoundly it assists you in understanding the budget today.

So, for example, when they say "tough decisions," they really mean … "decisions that will be tough on you."

Each of the points below should be preceded by a shout of "when they say," and followed by a response of, "they really mean…" And so in a few moments, it is hoped, all will become clear … or at least we’ll all have a nice time chanting and singing while the ship goes down.

Glossary of Alberta political terminology:

-    Avoiding deep cuts … making deep cuts where we figure no one will scream, you know, like to poor people and education…

-    Balanced budgets … infrastructure reduced to rubble through neglect …

-    Baths twice a week … who said anything about hot water?

-    Building this province through infrastructure spending … construction companies make bigger donations than sick people

-    Canada's economic engine … say goodbye to your manufacturing jobs, Ontario!

-    Continue the work we started last year … we have one objective, to get re-elected in 2016 … for that we need a Throne Speech?

-    Continue to drive this province forward … do whatever the petroleum industry wants

-    Hold the line on health care costs … we're more afraid of the Wildrose Party than the people who voted for us …

-    New fiscal realities … we figure teachers and civil servants will vote for us anyway because they're so scared of the Wildrose Party

-    New fiscal realities II … I'm breaking all my promises …

-    Prudent fiscal management … we've pissed all the money away again …

-    Results-based budgeting … we want to make it impossible to compare anything with last year

-    Sustainability … sustaining resource extraction until all the resources are extracted …

-    Technical deficit … technically, we have a deficit

Well, you get the picture. Readers are invited to submit their own suggestions for what they say, and what they really mean.

In the mean time, the real question is how the Redford Conservatives expect this budget to help them get re-elected in 2016.

Because, count on it, however crazy this may seem to you, that's the objective of everything they're going to do today. That is, creating the conditions that will persuade Alberta voters to make the "safe choice" in 2016, and vote for the Conservatives one more time.

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

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.