HicksBiz Blog

Category: Provincial politics

Provincial politics

Hicks on Biz: How to save the world and still keep our coal industry BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2016

A few weeks ago, a simple question was posed in this column. What’s the most cost-effective way for Alberta to reduce its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions (and other atmospheric pollutants) by 30% by 2030? Is it by ending all coal-generated electricity (currently producing 60% of Alberta’s power) by 2030 and replacing it with renewable power (wind and solar farms) and natural gas, as is planned by the New Democratic provincial government? Nobody is even pretending this is a least-cost model. To shut down six coal plants prematurely, the province has just  announced it will compensate three power companies to the tune of $1.36 billion ($97 million a year over 14 years). The money is to come from the impending provincial carbon tax.  Would it be cheaper to meet environmental targets by replacing all coal plants with natural gas? Would a “blend” of coal, natural gas and renewables make the most economic sense? I had never seen any cost comparisons – at leas ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Predicting the best-and-worst-case scenarios of the Alberta NDP's energy policy BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun, THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2016

Too late to turn back.   The Alberta ND government has irrevocably committed the province to a profound change in electricity generation, from coal, natural gas and some wind to no coal, more natural gas, and massive new renewable energy projects – more wind farms, big solar farms, on-site solar and run-of-river hydro. The government’s self-declared goal is to have 30% of Alberta’s power generation coming from renewables by 2030. This fundamental shift is as expected from a government with a radically different mind-set than the old. The “Alberta Advantage” will no longer be measured in economic terms but in ecological ones. Under past Conservative governments, Alberta was the lowest-cost province in which to do business. The New Democrats want Alberta to be the cleanest province in which to do business. So let’s polish up the ol’ crystal ball, and predict best-and-worst-case scenarios of this determined effort that will hit home in January when th ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta's debt is not Ralph Klein's fault BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 06, 2015

Quit blaming Ralph! How do you like these headlines of late? From Calgary Herald columnist Naomi Lakritz, published across Canada: “Ralph Klein not NDP Alberta Premier Rachel Notley to blame for budget woes.” Or from Ricardo Acuna, executive director of the Parkland Institute, in a guest column in the Calgary Herald: “Klein’s policies got us into this mess.” They argue it’s all ex-Premier Ralph Klein’s fault that the current ND government must plunge back in debt to keep our economy from going to hell in a hand bucket. Ralph’s zealous cost-cutting from 1993 to 2006 landed us in our current pickle – Ralph slashed hospital beds, fired nurses and teachers! Roads weren’t built! Hospitals and schools weren’t built! We are, according to Acuna, “still working to recover” from Ralph’s axe. Get over it! Ralph’s serious deficit-slaying days were from 1993 to 1997. Twenty years ago! For goodness sake, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Will Alberta end up like Greece? BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2015

When reading about the latest provincial, federal or municipal budget, do your eyes not glaze over about three paragraphs in? None of us can see beyond our own noses. No serious tax increases are in the new Alberta ND government’s 2015-2016 budget. Good. The 20 per cent of Edmontonians who work in the public or quasi-public sector can breathe easy. No lay-offs, no salary reductions. The New Democrats will not cut the civil service, the health system or public education. Good. Good – now, back to the real world. How’s McDavid doing with the Oilers? Oh, the government’s going into serious debt. Who cares! Why worry? The average Ontarian doesn’t care about his/her provincial government’s $300 billion debt and it’s way worse than ours. The annual interest Ontario pays on its debt is “only” $11 billion, or a little under 10% of its latest $125 billion budget. Jolene and Joe Average couldn’t care less about what the ND are doing in ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Big cities not respecting public purse BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23, 2015

Wednesday’s “Cities and the Future of Canada“ annual Hurtig Lecture at the University of Alberta featured Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi. The evening has to be analyzed in the context of the seismic shift in political attitude that happened in Canada last Monday. I was expecting practical, down-to-earth thoughts from these two, both considered leaders of a new wave of Canadian politics where big-city mayors get the same face time and respect as  provincial and federal leaders. And, being old school – witness my woeful misreading of Alberta sentiment as national sentiment in predicting a bare-majority Conservative government last week – I thought there’d be more concern from these two on how to pay for the updated Canadian urban agenda. Wrong again. The presentations, then discussion by these two mayors – intellectually heads ‘n’ shoulders above your average politician – were in the philosophical and politic ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Don’t re-invent the wheel BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 28, 2015

FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 28, 2015 11:36 AM MDT Dr. Andrew Leach (left), panel chair and Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, speak about the creation of an advisory panel to study the province's climate change policy at the media room at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday June 25, 2015. Ian Kucerak/Edmonton Sun Article Change text size for the story Print this story Report an error Related Stories Hicks on Biz: You can’t blame Edmonton City Council for everything Hicks on Biz: CEOs simply paid too much Hicks on Biz: Alberta recession will strike early 2016 Hicks' Weekly Dish: Gini's offers fine dining experience Links Follow us on Twitter! Like us on Facebook! It's always more exciting and more newsworthy for an incoming government to re-invent the wheel, or, even better, contend the wheel didn't even exist.   The New Democrats have come to power ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Be terrified ... and thrilled about Alberta's NDP government BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, MAY 29, 2015

Should Alberta business be terrified of this new all-orange New Democrat government? Or thrilled? Probably half and half. One thing is for sure. The day after the New Democrats pulled off Canada’s biggest political upset in the last decade – taking 54 of Alberta’s 87 provincial ridings - the business community was absolutely and utterly stunned. At every corporate executive and board meeting, at every Chamber of Commerce get-together, the same question was asked. “Does anybody know any of these people?” And the answer was 100% “nope, no idea who they are.” It’s terrifying that the reins of power and control of a $42 billion budget is being passed over to a bunch of school teachers and social workers who have never run anything besides community leagues, a few school boards and ND constituency organizations. It’s exhilarating that a huge breath of fresh air – a hurricane of fresh air – has blown out the accumulated cobweb ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund used, abused BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN POSTED: FRIDAY, JULY 04, 2014

Had successive Albertal governments stuck to their guns and kept growing the Alberta Heritage Fund from energy royalties rather than simply spending the cash, the Heritage Fund today would be worth north of $100 billion, easily able to contribute a steady - say $10 billion a year – stream of revenue into general government revenues while continuing to grow. Instead, it's stuck at $17 billion.


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HICKS ON BIZ: A fix for the Temporary Foreign Workers' program BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN POSTED: FRIDAY, JUNE 27, 2014

So, quite suddenly, Alberta’s (lower-end) job market has been thrown into turmoil by the federal government’s toughening up of its Temporary Foreign Workers Program. It’s been long known that the program has/had serious flaws: An unscrupulous hotelier, for instance, bringing in a foreign worker in a waiter category, then transferring him/her to housekeeping at (lower) waiter wages. Even in worker-short Alberta, the Alberta Federation of Labour says companies are hiring foreign workers (at lower wages) when Albertans are available. Still, it was surprising how the feds, despite glaring labour shortages in Western Canada, were so abrupt in changing the current system. Major, major abuse of the Temporary Foreign Workers’ program must have been happening for Employment Minister Jason Kenney to move so quickly. How Alberta brings its jobs-to-workers ratio back into balance is beyond the scope of this column. Obviously the politicians have to do something. The country will suf ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Saskatchewan wins big: EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 29, 2013

Yes, it was Saskatchewan’s day last week, when the Roughriders trounced the Hamilton Tiger Cats to win the 2013 Grey Cup, at home!  But the Miracle on the Prairies is far greater than Darian Durant, Kory Sheets, Weston Dressler and that amazing offensive line composed of beefy Saskatchewan farm boys. The Roughrider triumph is symbolic of the turnaround in Saskatchewan’s economic fortunes, since Brad Wall’s Saskatchewan Party came to power in 2007. Saskatchewan has gone from zero to hero — from a debt-riddled economic backwater to a province brimming with accomplishment — and the surface is scarcely scratched. Government numbers offer a snapshot of economic fortune, and Saskatchewan’s are impressive. The Saskatchewan government’s accumulated debt (excluding crown corporations) has shrunk from $13 billion in the late ‘80s to $4 billion today. After 80 years — 80 years! — of a population stuck at 900,000, Saskatchewan has shot up ... Read the rest of entry »
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