By James Keller
It is rare these words will ever grace a page bearing my name: Thanks a lot, Premier Klein.
Being a student, I am rarely appreciative of the provincial government. Our minimum wage is among the lowest in the country and our tuition among the highest. Energy deregulation has been a mess, and Klein’s views on everything from same-sex marriages to social welfare spending are at complete odds with my own.
Then he hands me money.
My first reaction was appall and disgust. "He’s just trying to buy votes," I think. "Does he really think voters are that stupid? Again?"
Then I come up with a better solution: I’m going to spend his money.
Over two years ago, the Alberta government mailed most people in this province a $150 cheque, a rebate for seemingly out of control energy prices. Worse, the rebate system didn’t even take whether you actually paid any energy bills into account. Klein and his government signed cheques for everyone who filed tax returns the previous year, including 16-year-olds who filed tax returns for their minimum wage jobs.
I had never paid a bill in my life, but I ran straight to the ATM and cashed my cheque anyway. If and when more cheques are mailed, I’ll do the same.
If we receive rebates, as hinted by the Alberta Tories, it will be considerably smaller–around $30, instead of $150–but no indication has come from the Alberta government the rebate cheques will be distributed any differently.
Last time I bought myself a camera, energy costs be damned. This time I’ll still find ways to enjoy it. Maybe I’ll buy two DVDs on sale at HMV, or a really good book. Thirty dollars could pay for a nice dinner, a cheap pair of jeans, or that textbook I still haven’t picked up.
Following in the footsteps of our great Premier, $30 is more than enough to get ripped and head down to the drop-in centre for some heckling–and still have cab-fare home.
Whatever I buy with it, you can bet it will have nothing to do with rising energy costs in this province.
And I’ll save a couple bucks for my most precious purchase: I’m going to buy myself a bright, shiny new pencil. I’ll keep this pencil until the next provincial election, and smugly use it to mark off another party’s candidate on my ballot.
Now that’s money well spent.