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Serious solutions needed to reduce public debt

In his letter in The Southern Gazette on Tuesday, March 10, MHA Steve Crocker said that government could save money by eliminating parliamentary secretaries. Agreed, but why only target some MHAs?  

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. A few years back, Liberal MHAs were somehow offended when then-finance minister Tom Marshall conducted budget consultations with a debt clock in the room. It’s exceptionally irresponsible to be offended by reality.

Here’s the reality: the Liberals talk-up the deficit, but they haven’t got the guts to get serious about it. Want to lead by example? Go ahead. Cut pay for MHAs. Alberta did it, why not here? Five per cent for MHAs making base salary up to a total of 10 per cent cut for those making the highest salaries on either side of the house. This lead-by-example approach is needed, but it doesn’t tackle the big problem.

Blaming royalties is a cop-out from all parties. Government’s got a spending problem and it needs to stop now. The civil service should be scaled down, including the “alphabet soup” of government entities. We have a “poverty reduction strategy” designed with a moving-target poverty definition that needs to be more realistic. We have a patronizing, inefficient monolithic government liquor corp. We need to privatize liquor distribution and sales and let more licensed businesses sell liquor. In Alberta privatization led to more revenue through more sales of taxed liquor, better selection, comparable prices, better hours, and more employment.

Public debt robs us of our very sovereignty. We know this from our history. Debt cost us our future as an independent country. Young people shouldn’t inherit this mess caused by shallow, shortsighted politics. MHAs of all stripes should pull their heads out of the clouds (or wherever else they might be). Get serious about making government smaller.

Michael O'Brien


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