Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Redford's Government Spends $350,000 on Glossy Budget Mail-Out Brochure

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Redford's Government Spends $350,000 on Glossy Budget Mail-Out Brochure

Article excerpt

Alberta spends $350,000 on budget mailer

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EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Alison Redford's government is spending $350,000 to mail out a full-colour budget brochure -- something critics suggest is Redford's latest attempt to save her job.

"It's desperation," Wildrose Opposition Leader Danielle Smith said Tuesday.

"We have a premier who is desperately afraid of losing confidence from her party in her leadership vote in the fall, and she's pulling out all the stops, including using taxpayer money to send out political propaganda."

The eight-page mail-out repeats dollar figures, commitments, and talking points used by the government when it delivered the budget March 7.

That financial forecast is for $6.3 billion in red ink along with cuts or reductions in spending across the board. But it also promised renewed savings and infrastructure spending to keep pace with a growing population.

The brochure, called Report to Taxpayers, highlights spending, savings and infrastructure goals, but doesn't mention the key concern of critics: that Redford plans to accrue $17-billion of debt over the next four years.

The brochure, which also includes testimonials from Albertans praising the budget and the government, also reiterates that the province is being hammered by what Redford and her government are calling the "bitumen bubble."

Redford coined the term to explain the price difference between what Alberta's oil sells for compared with the North American oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate.

The government has said the bubble is taking a big bite out of resource revenues, but critics suggest the price spread is not far off traditional levels and is being used by Redford as a red herring to justify service cuts and debt.

Redford, in her personal address to Albertans on page 2 of the brochure, mentions the bubble twice in the first three paragraphs.

She defended the mail-out during question period.

"We're very excited to be able to make sure that we are accountable to Albertans for the decisions that we made in Budget 2013," said Redford. "And we're proud of the fact that we're going to deliver that fact-based document to 1.2 million households this week."

Added Finance Minister Doug Horner: "We don't apologize for communicating to Albertans the information that Albertans want to know. …

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