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Danielle In QP, November 6: Provincial Fiscal Policy
Ms Smith: Now, Mr. Speaker, I know the Premier doesn’t have an economics background, so I’m going to direct this next question to the Minister of Finance. While we wait for the minister to deliver on his promise to give us dates, times, places, and participants of the meetings the government held with the
Katz Group lobbyists regarding arena funding, let’s see if we can find out what he’s doing about the budget. We’re pretty sure he’s going to try to bury a lot of his capital borrowing by doing what he has called going to capital markets. We call it going into debt. Can the minister tell us how deep into debt is he planning to go?
Mr. Horner: Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member is asking me if we are intending on investing in schools, hospitals, roads like highway 63, the answer is yes, we are going to invest in those things. We’ve looked at what they would rather do, and that’s defer the projects out into the future, when they will cost more by their own admissions. We’re going to build them now, when Albertans need them, and if we have to borrow for highway 63, we will do so. We’ve already said that we will.
Ms Smith: I see the Finance minister has forgotten the paid-infull sign that former Premier Ralph Klein presented to Albertans.
Mr. Speaker, energy prices remain low. The Bank of Canada’s monetary policy looks out until 2014, and it now shows oil prices converging at $90 a barrel, yet this government sees prices at $108 a barrel. In other words, they’re off by about 20 percentage points, yet there is no evidence of any adjustments in the government’s spending plans to reflect this drop in revenue. To the Finance minister: why not?
Mr. Horner: Well, Mr. Speaker, it’s rather shameful that this hon. member doesn’t pay attention to the announcements of this government before she comes into this House and makes accusations like that. We’ve already announced that we’ve raised the in-year savings to $500 million, a half-billion dollars off this year alone. We’ve already talked about what we’re going to be doing with our capital plan as we move forward. We are adjusting to the economic conditions that we are facing, and we are doing it while building the vision that this Premier has for this province into the future and responding to Albertans’ needs, not deferring them out into the future.
Ms Smith: Well, Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the last fiscal update was nothing more than a flimsy collection of coloured graphs and wishful thinking. Albertans deserve the truth. The fiscal accountability act demands full disclosure. The minister has said that the information is too difficult for the media and most Albertans to understand. Will the minister give Albertans just a little bit more credit this time, obey his own law, and give us the full story in the next fiscal update
Mr. Horner: Well, Mr. Speaker, I apologize if the graphs that were presented in that document were too complicated for the hon. member. We’ll try and make that a little better for you.
Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the pretend budget that they brought forward on their website actually uses our revenue forecasts. We’ve changed ours. They haven’t told us what they would have cut out of their budget. They haven’t told us what school they would have cut. They haven’t told us what hospital they wouldn’t have built. They haven’t told us what road they would have deferred for the next five or 10 years. We’re going to build for today and for the future of this province.