Harsh reality outside of Dome Disease

Member of Legislative Assembly Report

By Tany Yao, MLA of Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo

Tany Yao

Tany Yao

Say what you will about his politics, but the late Premier Ralph Klein truly was a man of the people. With a larger than life personality, he gave us a host of witty one-liners and analogies that remain a part of the Alberta lexicon even to this day.

One of his favourites was a condition common to politicians who spend too much time in the Legislature, known as “Dome Disease.”

According to Klein, “You know that… you’re fully consumed with that disease when you start to think that unless it’s happening under the dome, it’s not happening at all.”

It seems the NDP government could use a heavy dose of Premier Ralph’s homespun wisdom; the disconnect between the Notley Administration and the vast majority of Albertans is growing by the minute.



Life under the dome is pretty cushy, these days. There certainly have not been any layoffs or pay cuts in recent years. In fact, the Notley administration has gone out of its way to pad Alberta’s ample bureaucracy with a wave of NDP activists hired from Ontario, British Columbia, and all across Canada.

Outside the Legislature, however, Albertans face a much harsher reality. The steepest recession since the 1980s has already delivered well over 100,000 layoffs. Unlike previous cyclical recessions, this downturn isn’t slowing – even with stabilizing oil prices. Two years since the crash began, Alberta continues to lose jobs. Calgary’s unemployment rate has skyrocketed to nine per cent, the highest point in a century, and may reach double-digits by Christmas.

This is not business as usual. Rather, this is the inevitable effect of hubris.

Albertans well understand the boom and bust cycles that accompany being one of the world’s leading energy providers. We have been here before. We also know how to bounce back.

Albertans know that when you’re stuck in a hole the first thing to do is to stop digging. This is the Alberta Way. Raising taxes during a recession, however, is the economic equivalent of trading your shovel for a backhoe.

Over the past year the NDP has increased taxes in just about every way possible, and plans massive new increases in the coming years. The Notley Carbon Tax alone will see government take $3 billion from our economy to fund risky corporate welfare schemes. This is not the Alberta Way.

Albertans also understand that recessions begin on Bay Street, and recoveries begin on Main Street. Small businesses will start hiring again, but only with a meaningful opportunity for growth. This is the Alberta Way.

Rather than encourage small businesses, the Notley Administration has increased the barriers to hiring, imposing new regulations and driving up costs. As a result, multi-generation family-owned businesses are closing at an unprecedented rate. As is to be expected, job losses are hitting youth first and hardest. This is not the Alberta Way.

Premier’s Notley’s disconnect with regular Albertans became even more apparent, last week, when she advised reporters that the NDP’s policies are not harming Alberta’s economy.

She should know better. An internal NDP government memo leaked in June shows the government’s carbon tax will precipitate a 1.5 per cent loss of GDP, a decline in oil exports, a $4 billion drop in household income, and a further loss of 15,000 jobs. The Premier also seems to be selectively forgetting an internal government document that warned of the “significant job loss” that would accompany a rapid increase in the minimum wage.

At a time when so many folks are struggling to get by, Albertans expect government to get to work on policies that will get them back to work. Yet the Premier seems fixated on talk points clearly out of touch with the present reality. She is echoing her own echo. This is what Premier Klein would call a telltale symptom.

Folks, I’m afraid what we have here is an acute case of rapidly progressing Dome Disease.

Tany Yao is the Wildrose Caucus Chair and Member of Legislative for Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo. Yao can be reached by email at fortmcmurray.woodbuffalo@assembly.ab.ca or by phone at 780-790-6014. 

– Connect Weekly –