Danielle In QP, October 24: Provincial Fiscal Position

Ms Smith: In any case, Mr. Speaker, energy prices remain low, yet this government has made no effort to adjust its spending to reflect this new, harsh reality. Regular Albertans, the people we talk to, are worried about the swelling deficit, yet the Minister of Finance said here yesterday that captains of industry are “very confident” as he prepares for his next huge budget deficit. Today EnCana reported a third-quarter loss of $1.2 billion, mainly due to lower natural gas prices. How big is the loss that the Alberta government is going to report?

Mr. Horner: Well, Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member well knows or should know given the amount of time she’s now had in the House, we will be doing our second-quarter update at the end of November. We’ve already done our first-quarter update. I don’t think I need to go back over that again because it’s very public. I will say again what I said yesterday: we will balance the budget, including funding our capital plan. We’re going to bring forward a vision and a plan for this province that the other members obviously could not because they’re not in government.

Ms Smith: That’s not what he said. Given that the minister has gone so far as to speculate about a new mortgage and given that the world watched in awe as Premier Klein paid off the last provincial mortgage – there was even a celebration over that – to the Finance minister: when did Albertans give him permission to take out a new mortgage?

Mr. Horner: Well, Mr. Speaker, again, given that the Finance critic couldn’t read the financial statements of the province of Alberta, it’s understandable that the Leader of the Official Opposition cannot as well. We have the lowest personal taxes in Canada. We have no net debt. We have net assets in this province. We have savings. We have a sustainability account. We have the best financial picture of any province in Canada. We will build the infrastructure that Albertans want like highway 63 now, when they need it, not in the future and not defer it to when it’s going to cost more and when other people may have been injured.

Ms Smith: Mr. Speaker, the minister likes to imagine that borrowing for roads and schools is the equivalent of a household mortgage. Of course, if things get tough in your household mortgage, you can always sell and downsize. What provincial assets does the minister have in mind to sell if things get tough here?

Mr. Horner: Mr. Speaker, if my budget is balanced on a monthly basis and I’m making my mortgage payments, I’m not selling anything. I’m actually operating the way I should operate, the way every household in this province operates, and, in fact, the way every business in this province operates. It’s time they learned that.