Wetaskiwin-Camrose MLA Bruce Hinkley pointed out a mistake that appeared on this page in the Nov. 5 edition of the Leduc/Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer. Among the tax hikes introduced in the much-delayed NDP provincial budget, license/registration increase were not, in fact, among them. Our sincerest apologies for any confusion this may have created.
Continuing on, Hinkley was obviously not happy about the newspaper critique of the provincial budget. His email noted, “Please also provide more information about the one per cent insurance increase on ‘premiums’ (for example, a person paying a $1,000 premium will now pay $10 more; less than the rate of inflation).” Duly noted. The statement begs the question, if it’s such a small, reasonable increase, then why bother? It’s estimated by the NDP the hike will generate about $158 million.
All right then as requested, here’s more information: insurance premiums, for example car insurance policies, are mandatory expenses that working families have to pay. Families have no choice but to pay it, or be relegated to the ranks of the pedestrian. It’s a low blow by the NDP to lay this on working families during a recession and an oil industry that, according to the federal government’s Parliamentary Budget Office, will barely reach $72 a barrel by 2018.
So, why bother with a sum like $158 million?
Well, it was revealed last week that former NDP MLA Bob Hawksworth, who has served as both MLA and a Calgary city alderman and who was recently “hired” (it’s not clear how Hawksworth was selected for the job over any or all other qualified candidates) as executive director of the McDougall Centre in Calgary, collects a salary of $150,000. The centre is the provincial government’s centre of operations, generally speaking, for southern Alberta. Hawksworth lost his seat in the 2015 election, beaten by a Wildrose candidate. Hawksworth is a life-long NDP man (that may or may not explain why Hawksworth was hired for the job over other and all qualified candidates), and beginning with his Calgary council job in 1980, has spent virtually his entire adult life living off the taxpayers of Alberta.
Glorified secretary positions with a six-figure salary,say, for example, like Hawksworth’s, obviously require a lot of money to cover. Then it’s a fly in the ointment that the NDP chose to make an apology in the Legislature last week for an invite that apparently solicited a $250 donation to the NDP for access to Premier Rachel Notley and her cabinet for a fundraising event in Calgary Nov. 26. Health Minister Sarah Hoffman made the apology, claiming there was an “error” in the invitation wording. The invite stated that, after a $250 donation, guests would have a chance to hobnob with Notley and her cabinet.
Albertans interested in paying $250 to talk to Notley… it’s an interesting strategy the NDP could perhaps apply to balancing the budget. With a deficit of about $6.5 billion, she’ll have to attend 26 million barbeques to make it work.
That might explain the $158 million from families’ pockets after all. With the insurance premiums hike, the NDP can “hire” 1,053 and a third more Bob Hawksworths.
Shop around. You can’t beat that deal.