- Bruce Campbell argues that Alberta should take a lesson from Norway on how to manage natural resources - and plenty of other provinces could stand to take notes as well:
The Norwegian government owns 80 per cent of petroleum production, and retains roughly 85 per cent of the net petroleum revenues mainly through a 78-per-cent company tax and through direct access mechanisms.- But of course, that won't be happening among the premiers more interested in serving as wholly-owned subsidiaries of oil barons than advancing any issue which might actually affect their own province.
In Alberta and Canada, ownership and control have been controversial issues. At present, virtually the entire industry is owned by foreign and domestic private interests, which have taken the lion’s share of the petroleum wealth.
According to one estimate, the Alberta government has averaged just 9 per cent of the economic rent from the oilsands over the last 15 years, and the federal government now takes (after tax breaks) a paltry 7 per cent of oil company revenues through the general corporate income tax.
The Norwegian government has been very effective in distributing the benefits of oil wealth both regionally and throughout its population, thanks to a generous social welfare system, an equitable labour relations system and a progressive tax system. It has maintained one of the lowest levels of income inequality in the world.
Inequitable petrodollar recycling mechanisms explain, in large part, why inequality is substantially higher in Alberta than the Canadian average (which in turn is among the highest in the OECD), and why it has grown dramatically over the last decade.
- Thomas Walkom sees the latest set of Idle No More protests as a qualified success, while Barbara Yaffe identifies John Duncan and the Cons' handling of First Nation issued as an unmitigated failure. And Emma Teitel introduces some new language to discuss the reflexive anti-activist tendency of some columnists - though I think we may be best off contrasting "idle no more" against "curmudgeonly forever".
- Finally, Chris Sorenson and Charlie Gillis discuss the new underclass of young Canadians - as plenty of citizens who took exactly the path suggested for them (featuring higher education at ballooning prices) are now stuck with few job prospects.