The Globe and Mail reported today that the Alberta government is projecting a $4.7 billion deficit for 2009-2010. There were many comments on the Globe comment string about how they wish Klein was back.
A couple thoughts. In the slow moving world of political and economic consequence, it appears much of what is happening now is in fact due to Ralph Klein and his mismanagement of our province. Sure, he got things into shape, but then he totally botched it. Instead he handed out prosperity cheques and kept putting negligible savings into the Heritage Fund, unlike Norway, another petro state that has handled their wealth more than responsibly ($80 billion surplus this year).
As for this notion that the Conservative party is the least of evils and without alternative, look at Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Saskatchewan is doing very well, not only under previous NDP Premier Lorne Calvert, but now under Saskatchewan Party Premier Brad Wall. So just because there are no alternatives now, doesn't mean they don't exist. And the NDP is doing a fine job in Manitoba under Gary Doer.
Let's look across the country.
SK Saskatchewan Party government: $500m surplus ($489.79 per capita)
Manitoba NDP government: $48M surplus ($39.74 per capita)
BC Liberal government: $495m deficit (-$112.97 per capita)
Quebec Liberal government: $3.9b deficit (-$503.19 per capita)
New Brunswick Liberal government: $700m deficit (-$953.68 per capita)
Ontario Liberal government: $14.1b deficit (-$1086.53 per capita)
Alberta Conservative government: $4.7B deficit (-$1310.97 per capita)
Newfoundland Conservative government: $750m deficit (-$1473.51 per capita)
So of the provinces that have tabled fiscal updates thus far, only Saskatchewan and Manitoba are projecting surpluses. The standard line in Canada is that we can't elect an NDP or Liberal government because it will ruin our country, maybe even the world. The top two provinces are a centre-right government and a left-leaning government. The four middlemen are Liberals, and the bottom feeders are Conservative. I'd like to say this provides support for a direct correlation between fiscal responsibility and leftward position on the political spectrum, but I won't.
All I'll say is it doesn't seem to matter what type of political party runs a government. It matters only the competency and quality of those within the party making the decisions that affect the provincial and/or federal economy. Maybe once we come to this realization we'll start electing leaders by their competencies and ideas than by the color of their political stripes.