Blog | May 08, 2013

By Karen Kleiss, Edmonton Journal, EDMONTON—A 30-second political spot running in Alberta movie theatres features a silver-haired man in a decadent office feasting on gold-sprinkled ice cream and thanking Albertans for making him rich.

The $50,000 advertisement, produced for the Alberta Federation of Labour, has been playing in Alberta movie theatres for a month as part of the organization’s Better Way Alberta campaign.“Hello Albertans! I would like to thank you personally for making me so incredibly wealthy,” says the man, played by a Calgary actor. “Charging me next to nothing in taxes and royalties to dig your oil really helped out,” the man says as a beautiful woman uses a cheese grater to shower gold dust on ice cream topped with berries and whipped cream.

“And your province’s government’s underfunding of health care and education, so I could make even more millions,” he adds, laughing.

The spot ends with the tag line: “Alberta shouldn’t be running out of money for essential services.”

AFL President Gil McGowan said the organization wants to start a conversation about Alberta’s low tax and royalty rates.

“It’s a tongue-in-cheek video about a very serious issue,” McGowan said Tuesday. “What we were hoping to do with the ad and the campaign that it’s a part of is to start a conversation with Albertans and public policy-makers about how we pay for our public services.”

McGowan said belt-tightening shouldn’t be necessary in a province as wealthy as Alberta. The problem, he says, is that tax and royalty rates are too low, so Alberta has a revenue problem.

“Successive Conservative governments have essentially blown a hole in the revenue base we need to fund important public services like education and health care,” McGowan said.

“They’ve presided over tax cuts to wealthy Albertans and royalty giveaways for energy corporations. If we returned to the kind of progressive income tax system that existed in Alberta during the Lougheed years, we wouldn’t have a deficit today at all, and we wouldn’t be dealing with these draconian cuts.”

The spot was produced by Calgary-based Scout Communications and filmed at the Palliser Hotel in downtown Calgary. The AFL will run the ads in theatres across the province for six weeks at a cost of $185,000.

The campaign will also feature radio ads, which have been posted on the Better Way Alberta website but have not yet been aired.

More to come …

kkleiss@edmontonjournal.com

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