Alberta has officially gone back to blue. In April, the province decided—with a record number of votes—to show its priorities by electing a majority UCP government, showing the country and the world that Alberta is once again open for business.
Personally, I’m excited about Alberta returning to a level of prosperity we enjoyed before that was rooted on an open and competitive economy that creates, not redistributes wealth (as witnessed by Alberta’s $60 billion and growing debt level). With wealth creation and growth comes opportunity to invest in what Albertans care about – education, health care, communities, infrastructure, families and social programs. That prosperity also provided entrepreneurs with the residual income to invest in our province’s economic diversification.
But, once again – and very frustratingly so – as evidenced by the constant and strongly worded opinions on social media, Premier Kenney’s call to be open for business is being taken as the tired old “us and them” rhetoric, causing detractors to extrapolate that it’s Alberta against the Federal government, the left against the right, the province against the rest of Canada and business versus the environment. Seeing detractors alienating Albertans into factions is nothing but counterproductive and not in step with where the majority of Albertans are at in 2019.
Internal strife among Albertans is not the approach to get back the Alberta we deserve when it comes to inviting new business ventures and investors, and rejuvenating existing Alberta businesses. Welcoming investment into Alberta should the top priority of any government. Private sector jobs create wealth for the provincial coffers and a productive workforce helps businesses contribute as well. Remember, employees pay taxes the minute they make any money, but businesses only pay tax if they are efficient enough to make a profit (net income).
Regardless of who you voted for, returning to prosperity can only work if Alberta shows a united front. The reality of the situation, as witnessed in the most vicious campaign in Alberta’s history, has been dog-whistle politics of personal destruction, not a great debate or discussion about Alberta’s future and how we get there. When will we realize that the issues need to be economic, not political or personal? We need a stable business environment with regulations that guide not obstruct. We need to open the door to Alberta, not lock it.
If we are going to be open for business, as Premier Kenney says, then Albertans must be “open to businesses.” We need to realize that it’s not “us against them” and that business owners, politicians, and employees are all playing for the same team—and that team is Alberta. Business owners and entrepreneurs are the backbone of communities across Alberta, a true force of good in our province and it’s time we get active and vocal to get Albertans believing in business once again.
With the right and consistent leadership, business will grow and prosper; and growth brings more employment. Once we see the growth we need, then Albertans can discuss with our legislators what we consider to be the priorities on which to focus our provincial revenue. That’s free enterprise folks! That is what it means to be open for business.