Alberta Politics
Premier Jason Kenney with his “blue ribbon” panel in May 2019. From left to right: retired business professor and former politician Mike Percy, banker Dave Mowat, Finance Minister Travis Toews, Chair Janice MacKinnon, Mr. Kenney, former B.C. deputy minister Kim Henderson, senior Alberta civil servant Jay Ramotar, and economist and Fraser Institute associate Bev Dahlby (Photo: Government of Alberta).

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It turns out Janice MacKinnon’s six-member “expert panel” was using a script cooked up in Premier Jason Kenney’s office at least part of the time it was supposedly taking its “deep dive” into Alberta’s books last year.

Alert readers will rell that when freshly elected United Conservative Party Premier Jason Kenney announced the creation of the so-lled Blue Ribbon Panel on Alberta’s Finances back on May 7, 2019, he gave it the mandate of getting the province’s books back into the black in less than three years without raising existing taxes or introducing new ones.

As was observed in this space at the time, Mr. Kenney’s promises on the mpaign trail notwithstanding, there was only one way to do that, and it wasn’t going to be pretty. Albertans are starting to understand that reality now.

Mr. Kenney chose Dr. MacKinnon, a University of Saskatchewan history professor and former Saskatchewan NDP finance minister whose politil claim to fame was closing 52 rural hospitals in that province in the early 1990s, to head the handpicked panel of representatives from business, government and the ademy.

Now, Dr. MacKinnon was obviously the kind of New Democrat the UCP liked, and the ideologil reliability of the panel was never in much doubt regardless of the premier’s claims about its independence.

Even so, it was a surprise to learn yesterday thanks to the freedom of information filings…

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