Ken Hughes is a former Alberta minister of energy, the founding chair of Alberta Health Services, and was recognized as an Honourary Chief within the Blackfoot Confederacy
As Canadians, let’s be honest with each other. After TransCanada announced Thursday that the Energy East Pipeline is dead, we need – now more than ever – to honestly address this fundamental question: How does Canada work? We can’t build a country without building something. We will not maintain our standard of living if we continue to lose our edge.
First, the wealth of a country is created by the sweat, toil and creativity of Canadians. They turn assets into something of value that can be sold to create wealth. Sometimes these are assets such as oil, natural gas or lumber. Sometimes these are virtual assets, such as insurance, banking or software. Success leads to taxes paid to local, provincial and federal governments.
Taxes are used by governments to pay for our much valued, quality public services: health care, education, roads, etc. Taxes only get paid when there is successful enterprise first. Taxes are paid by employed Canadians and by successful companies. Period.
How have we not been honest with each other? We have enabled a myth to take root and grow. The myth is that we are so wealthy as a nation that we can afford to ignore our natural strengths. We can reap the rewards of being a first-world country without the hard work that got us here. Tax income will arrive on a magic ship full of rainbows and unicorns.
Let’s remember what got us here. People saw opportunities, they took a crack at trying to exploit those opportunities. They created businesses, hired people. They moved with speed. They learned that opportunities aren’t there forever.