CALGARY – A former member of the Alberta legislature says he won’t pay his provincial taxes until oilpatch players pay theirs.
David Swann, who once led the Alberta Liberals, says his tax strike is in response to news that rural municipalities in the province have been left with $173 million in unpaid property tax from energy companies.
He’s encouraging other Albertans to withhold their taxes until the ‘patch ponies up.’
"Its time for governments to stand up with a backbone and say Albertans are first. This is Albertans' resource and we're going to manage it in the interest of the public and future," @davidswann adds. He says Kenney's gov needs to hold oil & gas accountable. #abpoli @660NEWS
— Saif Kaisar (@StaySaif) January 22, 2020
Swann was joined by a rural landowner who says an oil well has been abandoned on his property for some time.
The landowner said If everyday citizens can’t get away with not paying property taxes, why should a profitable industry?
“If you don’t pay your property tax, there’s consequences but these companies seem to get away with it. We have a premier who is spending our money defending the oil industry.”
Industry spokesmen say companies have been hit hard by a long-term decline in resource prices that wells, pipelines and other facilities are overvalued for tax assessment and they want the province to give them a break.
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney has hinted that’s what’s coming.
During a press conference Tuesday, Kenney said the oil and gas companies need to make money in order to pay their bills, saying once the economy improves, things will get better.
“For companies that are on the verge of bankruptcy that have no cash and very little in the way of assets, there’s not a lot to go after. I would just say with the municipalities, work with us to try to create the best conditions to turn that economic situation around.”
Al Kemmere of Alberta Rural Municipalities says another revenue reduction, on top of new provincially imposed policing costs, could make some communities non-viable.
For immediate release: The Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) conducted a member survey that identifies that approximately $173 million in property taxes are currently owed to rural municipalities from oil and gas companies have gone unpaid. https://t.co/KYY7r5ykol pic.twitter.com/VUtVlJCeLa
— Rural Municipalities of Alberta (@RuralMA) January 20, 2020
The Canadian Press