Danielle In QP, November 26: Capital Infrastructure Financing

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Finance minister is preparing to release his next quarterly update, and we all live in hope that it isn’t another work of fiction. The minister has been insisting for months that there won’t be a deficit because he won’t have to borrow to cover operating, but that’s just juggling the books. The minister is moving the province’s capital spending out of the total budget into a new separate, different, alternative special budget so that he can then claim that things are balanced. They’re not. It’s borrowing. It’s debt. Why won’t he just admit it?

Mr. Horner: Well, Mr. Speaker, I’m not exactly sure where the hon. member is coming from because what we’re doing on our budget is that as a budget we’re bringing forward the operating plan, the savings plan, and a capital plan. It’s all one budget. I’m not exactly sure what kind of fiction the hon. member is trying to put into Albertans’ minds. Does she believe that they’re gullible or something? I don’t know.

The Speaker: The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We’re looking forward to seeing a balanced budget. I want to ask about this quote from the Premier. “We will spend wisely and save intelligently, managing our finances to protect future [generations of] Albertans.” She said that in this Assembly just 13 months ago. Why has she decided it’s no longer necessary to protect future generations of Albertans?

Mr. Horner: As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, the instructions that I have from our Premier and this government are to ensure that we are doing exactly that, that we are protecting the economy of today for tomorrow for future Albertans, that we are ensuring that the infrastructure that Albertans need today and tomorrow is there for Albertans. We will not deficit finance the operations of this government. We have never said that we will.

Ms Smith: That’s just the kind of doublespeak I’m talking about, Mr. Speaker. The minister refers to using everything in his financial tool box to get things done. If that tool box even exists, it’s clear it doesn’t have an axe, a razor blade, a sharp pencil, or even an eraser. Why won’t he just admit that alternative financing, going to the capital markets, and public-private partnerships are just another way of saying debt?

Mr. Horner: Mr. Speaker, I think I’ve been fairly clear. I do agree that a P3 is a tool of financial borrowing just as going to the capital markets is, just as borrowing for the school that is in her riding that was built with a P3. Is she now saying that we should have waited until the school was 20 per cent higher in cost and the students were doing their school work in the street? Is that what the Wildrose capital plan is? The Wildrose Alliance policies are from before 2000, even, not today. Albertans need a policy for today, not yesterday.

The Speaker: Third and final set of main questions. The hon. leader.

Ms Smith: We’re just asking for the kind of policy that Ralph Klein would have introduced in this Chamber.