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Premier quashes PST rumours, talks about ‘bitumen bubble’ to Toronto business community
Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:11PM MST
Last Updated Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:12PM MST
Although she’s visiting another province, Alberta’s premier still addressed high profile political rumours that have been gaining steam at home.
Premier Alison Redford is in Ontario, in part to congratulate the province’s premier-designate Kathleen Wynne who won the leadership of the provincial Liberal Party last Friday.
However, just hours before meeting with Wynne, Redford tweeted about rumours surrounding the upcoming provincial budget, and how the province was planning to cover a multi-billion dollar shortfall.
In a tweet posted Tuesday evening, Redford stated: “Stories and opposition spin about a sales tax are simply false. I’ve been clear – no sales tax. Period.”
On Wednesday, when pressed about the issue, Redford reiterated her stance.
“I’m telling you, we’re not going to do it,” Redford said, laughing. “We’re not going to do it.”
On another stop in her visit, Redford gave a speech at a Canadian Club Luncheon in Toronto, in it, she repeated a warning that’s become all-too familiar to Albertans.
Redford talked about the losses Alberta is experiencing due to the wide gap in the prices of Alberta bitumen and American oil.
“Right now, Alberta oil is fetching about $30 per barrel less than similar heavy oil from Mexico or Texas, and about $50 less than middle eastern oil,” Redford said in her speech.
For her Toronto audience, Redford addressed the national consequences of that price gap – saying while Alberta will lose $6 billion a year because of it, Canada will lose $27 billion.
However, her critics said the so-called ‘bitumen bubble’ is not an issue.
“I find it fascinating that she’s trying to depict this long-standing gap between two benchmark oil prices,” Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said in a phone interview. “That is brand new and somehow a shortfall.”
So far, the premier has alluded to tough choices her government would have to make ahead of the provincial budget – which will be tabled on March 7.
“Part of that is the approach we take is to infrastructure, which does impact the way that we collect revenue and spend revenue,” Redford said.
“We’ve already told Albertans that we’re going to go to capital markets and look to more P3 options.”
“If you want a translation of that lawyer speak, they’re going to take out debt,” Smith said. “That’s what they’re going to do.”
Opposition leaders are hoping more answers on the provincial budget will come when the province’s first-ever economic summit begins in Calgary on Feb. 9.
With files from Veronica Jubinville
Alberta Premier Alison Redford's meets with incoming Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne (left) at the Ontario Legislature in Toronto on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013. (Frank Gunn / THE CANADIAN PRESS)