Conservative Minister: Cities Don’t Contribute to the Albertan Economy
The Conservative minister for municipal affairs made a very peculiar response to a question by Laurie Blakeman, Liberal MLA for Edmonton-Centre.
She was posing a question about how the revenues from taxes disproportionately went to rural Alberta. In Alberta some rural jurisdictions receive almost up to $2,000 for each of their citizens and for cities and towns it’s roughly $28 per citizen. Blakeman wanted to know why this was done.
Doug Griffiths, leadership contender for the PCs in 2012 and current minister for municipalities, made the following pointed observation:
It could be asked by rural Albertans why 17 per cent of the population that lives in rural Alberta that has all the oil and gas revenue, does all the work, all the farms, all the agriculture and everything associated with it, goes to support urban Albertans who sit in high-rise condos and don’t necessarily contribute to the grassroots of this economy
Obviously, Mr. Griffiths has never read the 2003 report on the economic impact of cities [PDF] (thanks to Josh Wingrove for tweeting it). Some informative tidbits is the economic driver that cities are, with useful stats such as the following one:
In 1996, for example, the Calgary economy generated 24% of all new jobs in Canada even though the city contains less than 3% of Canada’s population.
For jobs, for the economy, and Albertan prosperity, cities are key. To have cities at the economic forefront, to be properly funded, and to have sensible city charters, urban populations in Alberta need to have better representation in government than this. If the minister for Municipal Affairs can make such comments it ought to shake the confidence of every Albertan that live in cities.