It’s been a strange few months for Canadians at the pump; drivers might have wondered whether a group of hoodlum kids swiped the “1” from its position in the front of gas prices. Since the fall, Canada has seen a steep drop in oil prices, due to an increase in the supply from OPEC oil giants. The result has been large cutbacks in the Alberta oil sands, which threatens to send Alberta’s economy into recession quicker than your patience during a colonoscopy.
Due to the province’s oil revenue, Albertans have long laughed at the rest of the country when we cough up the extra 52¢ for our already expensive Starbucks coffee. Now with a potential $7 billion shortfall in the Albertan Government’s upcoming budget, Jim Prentice’s Conservatives are cornered into considering all options for a new revenue source, even a provincial sales tax.
Albertans have been spoiled for too long, however. Just the talk of a sales tax has foreshadowed Prentice signing his political suicide note. If the Conservatives were to go through with it, Prentice’s career in politics might well hang itself with a rope purchased at Home Depot for an even $7.50.
Finally, Prentice gave in to his constituent’s temper tantrum. “In the financial circumstances we are in, it’s a time for people to express their opinions and they’ve been doing that over the course of the last month and consistently what I’m hearing from an overwhelming number of Albertans is they don’t want that a sales tax,” said Prentice. “I’ve heard very, very few people advocating a sales tax and I never have.”
Much like a person’s ethics in a Thai brothel, the Albertan sales tax was quickly deliberated and dismissed. This leaves Prentice helplessly clinging onto the Conservative ideals currently dangling Alberta over the cliffs of recession. Prentice has announced he will not be hiking the 10% corporate tax to compensate for the falling oil prices either, leaving few other options to save the province. An increase in sin taxes has been put on the table, but that would only raise a few extra million dollars here and there. Reforming Alberta’s 10% flat-rate income tax system (one of the lowest rates in the country) has also been discussed. It presents an issue unrelated to the oil crisis, however, considering Alberta is the province with the highest income inequality and the least progressive income tax system. It is only a matter of time until all Albertans are equally screwed, regardless of income.