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Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz: Alberta going back to the ‘80s BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 23, 2015

Sorry to be the Grinch, so soon after Christmas Day. But reality must be confronted. Alberta will soon be in its worst financial pickle since the '80s. Our naïve New Democratic government is in for the shock of its young life. The unforeseen consequences of corporate and personal tax increases, the new carbon tax and higher minimum wages are being layered on top of a fast-shrinking energy sector and a recession that's just now taking shape. The tax specialists consulted for this column were blunt. When the dust settles, they say, the provincial government won't have the added $1.1 to $1.55 billion it expects from corporate and personal tax hikes. By 2017, Alberta's corporate and personal tax revenue will shrink, not grow. Here's why. As of January 1, high-income earners - top managers, corporate partners and owners - will see their personal income tax rate (combined provincial and federal) jump from 39% to an expected 48% in 2016. Tax advisors are telling their clients to pay as much in ... 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: He's unlikable, but Stephen Harper will again be prime minister, with a majority BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2015

He’s going to win. On Monday night, Stephen Harper and his Conservatives will be re-elected for a fourth term, with a majority government. A bare majority government, mind you, 170 of 338 ridings. (In 2011, The Conservatives won 166 of 308 ridings.) He’ll win, because almost all Canadians who describe themselves as “fiscally conservative and socially liberal” will continue to vote for his party. We’ll hold our noses while we vote. Harper the control freak – muzzling scientists and his own members of parliament, dissing the country’s top judge, ramming omnibus bills through Parliament, black-balling anybody who opposes him – is thoroughly unlikeable. I’m disappointed in what has not been done. He has given up on Senate reform, on smaller government, on tax-filing reform, on CO2 emission gestures. He’s lost interest in modernizing our military. The recession-fighting Building Canada Fund is now a Conservative slush fund. But &helli ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Suncor’s $4.4 billion 'hostile' takeover bid for Canadian Oil Sands is a good thing BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, OCTOBER 09, 2015

Suncor’s $4.4 billion “hostile” takeover bid for Canadian Oil Sands Ltd. isn’t about the Canadian Oil Sands. It’s about a far more intriguing subject – control of Syncrude. Along with CNRL and Shell, Suncor and Syncrude are the Big Four of Alberta’s oil sands production companies. Syncrude is actually owned by a consortium of oil companies. Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil (Imperial Oil is owned by ExxonMobil) is a 25% shareholder. Suncor owns 12%. Syncrude’s single biggest shareholder, at 37%, is Canadian Oil Sands Ltd.  The Syncrude shares are Canadian Oil Sands Ltd’s only asset. It’s an investment company, 100% invested in its Syncrude ownership position. Let’s go back in time:  When oil sands production finally became profitable – in the mid ‘90s – the Syncrude ownership group left its management team, led by Eric Newell and then Jim Carter, alone. Newell and Carter were ahead of their time in recognizing the n ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton's easier to get around now than it's ever been BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2015

Good news! Edmonton’s transportation system is in really, really good shape … besides the potholes.  Complain though we will, our new and upgraded roads and bridges, our airport, public transit and private ride-sharing (Uber, not taxis) has never been better.  Automobiles (Roads):  The Henday Ring Road is the biggest single improvement, on time, on budget, three-quarters done with completion of the northeast leg next year. The end is in sight for the massive road re-construction on Hwy 216 (the Henday between Edmonton and Sherwood Park) from the Hwy 16/Hwy 216 interchange south to the Whitemud Drive. The widening and upgrading of the Whitemud’s Quesnell Bridge (across the North Saskatchewan River) has done the trick. Barring accidents, traffic now flows smoothly across that bridge at all hours of the day.  Likewise the Calgary Trail/23rd Avenue interchange has cleaned up a former mess.   The Queen Elizabeth II/41st Ave. SW interchange, weeks away from ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Where's the economic conservatism, Alberta and beyond? BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 04, 2015

FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 04, 2015 11:32 AM MDT | UPDATED: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 04, 2015 12:25 PM MDT A coffee shop displays signs for Visa, MasterCard and Discover. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/Files) Article Change text size for the story Print this story Report an error Related Stories Alberta Minister of Finance says deficit to hit $5.9 billion, or more, in first quarter fiscal update Gunter: Alberta NDP needs to rein in spending Gunter: There's no one home under Alberta's Dome Alberta could be facing largest deficit in three decades Wildrose leader Brian Jean says Notley NDP could be decimated in next election if they “govern to the left” I think I am economically crazy. All my adult life, I have abhorred borrowing. My wife and I paid off the house mortgage as quickly as possible. We buy used cars, paying cash. Our kids, with our help, graduated from post-secondary schools debt-free. T ... 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: You can’t blame Edmonton City Council for everything BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 21, 2015

FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 21, 2015 12:01 PM MDT | UPDATED: FRIDAY, AUGUST 21, 2015 03:15 PM MDT Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson takes part in an Executive Committee Meeting at City Hall, in Edmonton Alta. on Tuesday Aug. 18, 2015. David Bloom/Edmonton Sun Article Change text size for the story Print this story Report an error Related Stories Hicks on Biz: The smart-diaper the Canadian seniors’ health sector ignored Hicks on Biz: CEOs simply paid too much Hicks on Biz: Alberta recession will strike early 2016 Hicks on Biz: Don’t re-invent the wheel Links Follow us on Twitter! Like us on Facebook! It's not to be brought up lightly - city hall can't be blamed for everything - but Edmonton City Council must be questioning the competence of its city manager and his top transportation department management.   One delay might be annoying but tolerable. Two delays, even more annoyi ... Read the rest of entry »