Danielle In QP, November 21: Capital Infrastructure Financing

 
Ms Smith: Long-term debt is not sound financial management.

Another quote: we need to ensure that our actions are fiscally responsible and fair not only to this generation but also to those that follow. That is also worthwhile counsel. It could form the cornerstone of a responsible, prudent financial plan of any government, but we’ve seen anything but that from this government. They will pile up new debt, incurred because the PC government cannot or will not prioritize its spending. Does the Finance minister agree with this counsel?

Mr. Horner: Mr. Speaker, I absolutely agree that we will have a sound financial plan that will have an operating plan, that will have a savings plan, that will have a capital plan. Why? Because every Albertan today wants to have a home in the health care system, and every Albertan tomorrow should, too. Every Albertan today should have a place in an education facility in this province so their kids can achieve their dreams today and in the future. We will not penalize Albertans because of some ideological idea that we will not use all of the financial tools available to us. That includes using the capital markets.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What he calls ideology I call being principled.

Here is the irony. The words I quoted were spoken by the Premier just a few months ago, yet she is going to burden this generation and those that follow with new debt to pay for basics like roads and schools. Why the flip-flop?

Mr. Horner: Mr. Speaker, absolutely no flip-flop. We will not use debt to cover our operating deficits. We will not go down that path that other jurisdictions have gone down, including our federal government, including a number of other jurisdictions. The opposition talks about delaying capital projects. Which schools, which hospitals, which roads are they not going to build for Albertans?

Our Premier talks about a vision for this province when we have 5 million people, where every Albertan needs to be able to participate in the economy of today and tomorrow. We will fulfill that vision because Albertans asked us to do it.

Ms Smith: A perfect place to start is by rolling back the pay hike the PCs just gave themselves.

Mr. Speaker, another quote from Hansard. “We will keep the province’s coffers full and its outlook bright no matter what the world economy throws our way.” Same speaker. Same Premier.

But that same Premier now blames the world economy for having to borrow. The fiscal reality has changed, she says, although her Finance minister insists that they were always going to borrow for schools. So what is it, borrowing and debt because of the economic downturn or borrowing and debt because they promised too much?

Mr. Horner: You know, Mr. Speaker, the hon. member would do well to listen to some of the financial advice that even some of her backers are providing us. The Alberta Chambers of Commerce have told us that a responsible borrowing plan is the right way to go. Businesses in this province, including businesses that have been donors to their party and probably to her leadership race – I don’t know; I haven’t checked the list. We have net assets today as a province. We have a triple-A credit rating, the envy of the western hemisphere. We have a strong cash balance sheet. That will not change. What will change is that we will build the infrastructure Albertans need today for the economy of tomorrow.

Ms Smith: The fact remains that they did not campaign on t