ABCDEGFQ: Critics turn to the alphabet song to underline concerns about Alberta’s tax and royalty structure

EDMONTON - A pair of left-leaning advocacy groups have teamed up on a new pre-election advertising campaign to attack the Alberta government's tax and royalty structure.

The $200,000 campaign from Public Interest Alberta and the Alberta Federation of Labour makes the case that budget deficits run by the province are due to the government's unwillingness to get more revenue from high-earning individuals, corporations and energy companies.

"We are here to say Alberta has a broken tax and revenue system," Bill Moore-Kilgannon, executive director of Public Interest Alberta, said Wednesday.

He made reference to U.S. President Barack Obama's state of the union speech Tuesday, in which Obama called for the wealthy to pay more.

The Better Way Alberta campaign features a website,, a mail-out, and a series of radio ads that will run over the next two weeks, mostly in Edmonton.

Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan called the campaign "cheeky." One of the radio ads features a fake foreign oil billionaire praising the Alberta government for its tax policies, while another features a shot at education cuts by depicting a child struggling to sing the alphabet song.

The campaign cannot run when the election is called due to new rules restricting third-party advertising. McGowan said his group is consulting with lawyers to see if the website can remain operational during the election, expected this spring.

The AFL was involved in the Albertans for Change campaign during the 2008 election that targeted the Conservatives for having "no plan." Since the Conservatives won that election with another huge majority, McGowan said his group learned a lesson to "focus on issues rather than personalities."

He said Better Way Alberta is designed as a challenge to all political parties to declare the positions on various questions, such as whether they agree with Alberta's flat-tax rate and whether royalties should be raised.

"We're not trying to paint anyone as a bogeyman," he said.

Many of the arguments and statistics used by the campaign are from the work of Liberal MLA Kevin Taft in his new book, Follow the Money.

Edmonton Journal, Wed Jan 25 2012
Byline: Karen Gerein

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