Who really is to blame? That’s the question many Albertans are now asking as we begin to experience the expected provincial financial shortfall.
Last week, during a radio interview Premier Jim Prentice, in response to the question, told Albertans to look in the mirror.
“In terms of who is responsible, we all need only look in the mirror, right? It’s basically all of us have had the best of everything and have not had to pay for what it costs,” he stated during the CBC Radio call-in show.
It was this comment that incited a lot of reaction, including a popular hashtag #PrenticeBlamesAlbertans on social media channels.
Prentice has refused to back pedal on his statement but he has since clarified that he did mean exactly what he said, that regular Albertans should feel responsible for this current provincial fiscal crisis.
Many critics, opposition leaders and detractors demanded an apology from the premier, stating the comment was “condescending” to all Albertans who are worried about the state of the province.
Wildrose interim leader Heather Forsyth stated Prentice’s comments show how “out-of-touch” the PC government has become.
“At a time many Albertans are worried about the value of their home plummeting, keeping their job or being able to make ends meet, Mr. Prentice’s comments blaming Albertans for being directly at fault for the PC government’s gross fiscal mismanagement shows how deeply out-of-touch this 44-year-old government has become,” she said in a recent release.
Some residents were so offended by the comment, they took to protesting at the Legislature, showing their outrage in a mirror-related protest.
But despite these comments, demands for an apology and protests, this fiscal situation is not going away. It is a reality and we should acknowledge the truth.
By relying so heavily on the oil industry for revenues, employment and other aspects of life, as Albertans we have put all of our eggs in one basket, so to speak.
This was an unwise move as one could easily see or predict that eventually record-high oil prices would crash. Eventually the market would experience a downturn.
The provincial government and Albertans should have been looking for ways to diversify revenues many years ago, well before we got into this current financial situation.
This tightening of the purse strings with the upcoming budget will trickle down first to municipalities and then the average Albertans. The sting will be felt through all sectors. Municipalities will have to learn to do with less provincial funding.
The provincial budget is expected to be released on March 26th.