Last week, the Stelmach Government announced its eighth version of their new royalty framework. Thankfully, the PCs have finally got it pretty close to right. Obviously, the Wildrose Alliance caucus is thrilled to see this government adopt our policy position on this important issue. As I’ve said many times in this column, the oil and gas industry (particularly junior oil and gas companies) are responsible for hundreds of thousands of jobs in this province. Any reform that will help return jobs to Albertans again in this critical industry is something I support wholeheartedly.
That said; let’s call a spade a spade. The implosion of our province’s energy economy over the past 24 months has been significantly self-imposed. Just because the PC Party has reversed another element of its self-created royalty disaster, does not negate the damage they have done to Alberta’s economy, entrepreneurs, and working families over these past two years.
Here is a copy of a message I just received from a family devastated by the Stelmach royalty debacle (I’ve received hundreds of emails just like it):
“I speak as…a person whose family depended on oil work for our financial stability. (My family) is one of the families affected out of eight families on one oil rig... I have spent an entire year enraged at our irresponsible government for taking families’ lives from all across this province and being so reckless with them…this government…took our livelihood and without any regard at all, tossed our jobs out the window!
Since making their asinine decision to raise royalties, I have watched eight families from our rig alone not only lose their jobs, but three families lost their homes by way of bankruptcies, two more just got out before that occurred; so five families out of eight are no longer in their homes. (They) lost everything they owned (including) credit and work trucks, so even if work comes back, they have no trucks to drive and no credit for work cell phones - no money to live on the road should they leave town.
No one knows the real toll it took on the people of this province who leave their home and families for months at a time to keep this oil patch running, bringing in these royalties; and no one cared or asked when they were the first to be ignored.
I (can’t imagine) how long it’s going to take to get their lives back, credit back, to buy another home or even to rent a bloody cell phone! I don’t have to tell anyone what that did to marriages. I don’t have to tell anyone what that did to kids or to those families who had to move in with their parents, nor what it was like to adopt families for charity one Christmas only to be going to a food bank yourself the very next!
Now, with the wave of a hand they turn back the hands of time to what it was even before they changed it all. And we are supposed to be thankful? Are you kidding us? I know many who are not going back to the patch. Who can blame them? We can’t trust our government for one second that they won’t (do it again) just when we get back on our feet.”
I can’t express it any more clearly than that. I’m still waiting to hear a sincere apology from the premier to the Albertans like this, who were devastated by his incompetence… it’s the very least he could do.
Rob Anderson is the MLA for Airdrie-Chestermere