Now that I've had a chance to take a look at the much talked about Alberta Royalty Review Panel Final Report, I have some thoughts to offer.
1. The report is much more damning than I think anyone thought it would be.
The report begins with the opening statement: "Albertans do not receive their fair share from energy development." The report proves this to be an understatement.
2. The report revealed that a lack of government accountability has led to billions of dollars in reduced royalty income over the last 15 years - the royalty holidays and adjustments have reduced Alberta's income by nearly $8.6 billion over the past 15 years.
Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft and Shadow Energy Minister Hugh MacDonald pointed out that:
the government failed to report a four year royalty holiday period, which began in 1997, under former Minister of Energy Steve West. In 2001, the Auditor General questioned why the royalty holiday and incentive programs were not reported. The Auditor General started to report these amounts in his annual report. Since then, the Department of Energy has buried the amount of the royalty adjustments in their financial footnotes.
3. Though some are rallying against the report, the same people don't seem to understand the difference between a royalty and a tax.
4. There is no doubt that the release of
5. In 2004, Federal Auditor General Sheila Fraser's report into the Sponsorship scandal revealed that up to $100 million of the $250 million sponsorship program was awarded to advertising firms and Crown corporations for little or no work.
In 2007, Alberta's Royalty Review Panel revealed that approximately $8.6 billion in natural resource royalties owed to Albertans were not collected. This failure occured while Ed Stelmach and Lyle Oberg were sitting at the table in Ralph Klein's Tory Cabinet.
Albertans have been cheated in a big way and should be furious.