Re: Alberta could learn a few things from Norway (Gazette, Your Views, Oct. 6).
Roger Lecuyer certainly has it right. I was in Norway a few years ago talking to the people about their oil wealth and what it's doing for them, and I was in Alaska, once again, last July.
Although Alaska's oil production isn't anything like that of Alberta's, they have $66 billion in their Alaska Permanent Fund, they pay no state taxes, property taxes are next to nothing and every man, woman and child has received some $43,000 in total annual oil dividend cheques since 1982, and as we know Norway has more than a trillion dollars in their savings account with only a million more people than Alberta. University students pay no tuition fees and in fact are paid $1,000 per month to attend school; all education and health care costs are paid for by the government. Who do you think is better off?
If it wasn't bad enough what the Klein, Stelmach and Redford governments did to us by forgiving royalties and taxes to benefit their rich friends, now we learn of the $47-billion deficit to clean up the orphan wells.
It's my understanding that under the Lougheed and Getty governments oil corporations were required to hire companies to clean up these out of production well sites. As a banker, I funded one of these companies. The wells were capped underground and all the contaminated dirt around the site removed and replaced with clean dirt. The sand and gravel making up the roads into the site were also removed and replaced with clean dirt. In other words, the site had to be brought back to its original condition before the well was drilled. As you can imagine, it's a very expensive procedure and apparently the Klein government, once again helping their rich friends, refused to make the oil industry follow Lougheed's regulations and these companies went broke. Now, Albertans are faced with this massive disaster. Just one more wonderful thing Ralph Klein did for us, that his supporters can brag about.
So why would anyone want to reward these so called conservatives for putting us in this “Horrific Mess,” as Lougheed called it, by voting for the UCP who are promising to make things a lot worse for us? No one I know is going to.