Natural Gas

Sacrificing the future

In 1996, Alberta’s Heritage Trust fund was worth C$14 billion. Alaska’s similar fund was valued at C$27 billion and Norway’s amounted to C$11 billion.

Although it was the least valuable 23 years ago, the size of Norway’s national wealth fund in 2019 is 16 times that of Alaska’s and 78 times the amount of Alberta’s fund.

Difference here is that when it set natural resource taxation policy, Norway’s government was not in the pockets of extraction industries, like certain governments of western North America, British Columbia included.

BC now realizes almost nothing from fossil fuel production and less than nothing if you include direct and hidden subsidies plus accrued liabilities owed producers.

Norway made a choice to take a material share of oil and gas revenues and distribute the value of its non-renewable resources to citizens over multiple generations. Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan chose to benefit whichever corporations happened to be involved when production of oil and gas took place.

Today, Norway is an investment powerhouse that is divesting itself from oil and gas investments and aiming for carbon neutrality in a decade.

In full climate change denial mode, Canada’s federal government and three western provinces aim to ramp up production of fossil fuels. Canada is spending $15 billion on pipeline capacity. BC is building the $12 billion Site C dam to power gas fields and LNG plants, and subsidizing producers in other ways. Alberta just boosted the net incomes of tar sands companies by $2 billion through corporate tax cuts and is reducing environmental standards and regulatory oversight.

No surprise that in 2018, the Reputation Institute reported an international decline in perceptions of Canada’s government, economy, and environment.

Even worse, many Canadians know that our greed is sacrificing the futures of our own children and grandchildren.

5 replies »

  1. Thank you for this Norm. We’re in a sad state. Your investigation only proves it. Municipally, Provincially and Federally we’re in considerable trouble. Politicians choose to look the other way.

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  2. Norm, thanks for reminding us that we are financing the lifestyle of our current political leader. We should have seen the light from the performance of Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark. The shameful MLA’s are also using our credit card and keeping their mouth’s shut about unnecessary financial waste.
    Expect to see B.C. Ferries, BC Hydro, Transit, ICBC, MSP, gasoline/diesel, cable/internet, property taxes and emergency climate change funding to rise unexpectedly. The back room boys get their cut if everyone agrees to keep their mouth’s shut.
    Municipal mayors and councillors are now in line for automatic pay increases higher than the cost of living allowances. ( The automatic bump up, as it is referred too. No politics here. Every new housing unit has a priced in tax at over $100,000 per door. So much for affordable housing.
    Trudeau is building a road and airport to a golf course in Quebec for his wealthy friends. … a mere $18 million.
    The credits for people feeding electricity back into the BC Hydro grid has disappeared. The wealthy who can afford electric vehicles get a hefty $8000 tax rebate … while Transit users pay more.
    Taxpayers must demand that Trudeau and Horgan leave a certified cheque for every “election promise”. It’s like dining on the taxpayer’s credit card, they get the free lunch – while we get to do their dirty dishes and left to ponder the hidden GST charges on next month’s Visa bill.

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  3. Amazing. It’s just amazing that so many Canadian political leaders are so thoroughly screwed up and downright stupid and drunk with narrow mindedness and self interest.

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  4. A brilliant summary article Norm. Thank you for your valuable continuing investigative reporting.
    As described and discussed in his excellent, highly informative book “Oil’s Deep State – How the petroleum industry undermines democracy and stops action on global warming – in Alberta, and in Ottawa” Kevin Taft (former leader of Alberta’s opposition Provincial Liberals) goes a long way toward revealing why Canada is in such an unenviable, laggard, self-destructive financial/environmental deadlock.
    Your SACRIFICING THE FUTURE subject would be highly relevant material for a series of leader’s debates — including ALL LEADERS, in advance of this October’s federal election.

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