Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 7, 1975, Lethbridge, Alberta
Business-like Tories aren't likely to call 'messy9 snap election By AL SCARTH Herald Legislature Bureau EDMONTON Premier Peter Lougheed will be bucking tradition and his own hard work to create the image of a business like government if he calls an election next week. The best word to describe a calling a snap election call while the legislature is sitting is "messy." The arguments at this point are against the premier calling the election im- mediately after the budget is brought down in its election year wrapping this tonight. Those suggesting an election call next week set the date for March 24. That would be the earliest Monday, a traditional election day, open to Mr. Lougheed to ask for a mandate. They argue that the premier wants a mandate from the electorate to take to Ot- tawa in early April for the next fight over oil prices. Alberta wants to raise the price of its oil, and after the federal government decided last November to tax oil company royalties, said an agreement to keep prices frozen would not be considered binding after this winter. These observers claim the government will want to take the Syncrude deal and the budget to the hustings as eminently saleable items. Others argue, the government is losing its popularity because of buying'a controll- ing interest in Pacific Western Airlines, and will be lambasted for the Syncrude ac- cord. Thus it will want to hit the election trail before it makes additional unpopular moves. And by going to the electorate, it could probably cancel 'the annual conven- tion set for March 7, 8 and 9 in Calgary. That tactic would avoid what appears to be growing into a controversial meeting. The right wing of the party itself is upset by so called socialist moves on the part of the government and will make its feelings known at the convention. Syncrude issue should cool In reality, an election call next week runs against all common sense. The PWA issue cooled as will criticism of the Syncrude deal. In the last 35 years, the legislature has been hastily prorogued only twice to call an election both times when the govern- ment was in trouble with its members or the opposition. Neither is the case this year. The opposi- tion can not be said to exactly sparkle and government backbenchers are silent. the last man to prorogue the legislature and dissolve it the same day for an elec- tion was Premier Ernest Manning 20 years ago on May He only did so because there was real doubt he- held a majority despite overwhelming numbers of government members. Many Socred MLAs held Treasury Branch accounts and the opposition said that might disqualify them from sitting in the legislature. Mr. Manning had to reconvene the legislature in August to complete the year's business, a decidedly inconvenient move for any government. And before that, in Premier William Aberhart prorogued and dissolved the legislature after sitting only eight on Feb. 16. He called for a mandate in the face of a revolt on his own side of the house, when his term was nearly exhausted anyway. Incidentally, the March 21 election that year marked the last March election date in Alberta history. If ,Mr. Lougheed wants to call an early election, he faces two distinctly unappetiz- ing possibilities. Interim supply bill tip-off He hustles in the lieutenant governor to sign what bills he can, if debate has been completed on any of them. He then has the legislature prorogued, asks the lieutenant governor ,to issue an election proclamation, and completes the.process with an order in council to send out the election writs. If he wants to make it appear especially urgent that he be given a mandate, he simply walks into the legislature and issues the proclamation from the lieute- nant governor without bothering to prorogue. Either way, he. is left with an unpassed budget and unfinished legislation. He won't even have money to run the govern- ment if he hasn't brought in an interim supply bill. If he does that, it must be soon. That is a sure tip to the opposition that the government wants to call an election. They can prolong debate on the supply bill and even force the government to use closure something governments are loathe to do because of the obvious political ramifications. The government can choose to proceed without an interim supply bill. It can run the province on special warrants after proroguing the house and leave itself open to criticisms already raised this year about spending by decree. Meanwhile, it would probably have to rewrite the budget and all its legislation could have to be re introduced. Its revamped welfare system could go down the drain when it was promised for this summer, a speeded up property tax reduc- tion system could also be delayed as could an already late Medical Professions Act and a consumers' bill promised for this spring. About forty other pieces of legisla- tion could be derailed. Labor unrest might prompt call Senior citizens would not have their increased pension payments in time for an early election. It is conceivable they might even be delayed in coming ac- cording to the present schedule set for June. Lack of a budget could play havoc with a much touted aid program for recreational facilities. Tampering in either area is anything but politic. Coming labor confrontations seem to be one of the only real reasons to call an elec- tion now and avoid controversy which is sure to-come. "Mr. Lougheed is a methodical, thought- ful and talented says one ex- perienced observer. "Unless the govern-, ment knows something bad that might arise out of the Syncrude issue, he would be very careful about proroguing before completing the government's business. "He has worked his ministers like dogs to create a businesslike approach. The Lougheed method is somewhat similar to the Manning this non partisan says. "He is certainly a leader." A business like leader does not allow his organization to complete plans for an election year convention only to cancel them at the last minute, either. While the Tory candidates have been warned to be ready for an election any.time after 39 days from budget day (the mandatory election campaign that is all it is a warning. Nor does the premier need a mandate to go to Ottawa not only does he know he has one already, co operation on the part of Ottawa in saving Syncrude has made the coming negotiations seem less of a confrontation. Ottawa wants Syncrude to succeed because it is a participant, and it may be' more understanding about Alberta's arguments for higher oil prices as a result. Election campaigns are also exhausting. Presumably, the premier and his ministers want to be at their sharpest when they enter such crucial meetings about Alberta's future. The best bet for an election date at this point appears to be late May or some time in June. Of 17 general elections in Alberta, six have been held in June. The most held in any other month is five in August. Credit watchdog critical of 'rent-to-own' dealers Herald Legislature Bureau to own" appliance dealers are criticized in the Alberta con- sumer credit supervisor's an- nual report tabled Thursday in the legislature. D. E. L. Keown notes that several abuses of the credit industry continued to occur in the province in 1974. He received 342 written com- plaints and 600 phone calls by angry credit users. The largest number complained about collection methods used by credit grantors, the next largest number about problems with loans. Mr. Keown said he dealt with 299 complaints successfully, returning to credit users. Advertising regulations for credit grantors seem to be prone to abuse, particularly by rent to own appliance dealers, he reports. "Disclosure requirements are circumvented by advertis- ing rental terms, when in effect the majority of trans- actions result in appliance Mr. Keown says. Revisions to the Credit and Loans Agreement Act are re- quired to stop the practice, he says. Issuance of unsolicited credit cards remains a problem, while consumers also complained about what they felt were excessive credit charges. He accused some credit granters of making "little ef- fort" to inform credit users that health .and life insurance are optional in loan agreements. Other credit granters failed to disclose interest rates on finance contracts, "and in a few cases it was possible that contracts had been altered after having been signed by the consumer.." And despite passage of a provincial act to prevent it, "many cases were found where blank wage assignments were taken by credit he said. Many folks packing to join Great Games Exodus With the 1973 Canada Winter Games less than a week away, hundreds of Lethbridge families are planning to join the Great Games Exodus. City travel agents say February is usually a busy month for Southern Albertans seeking fun in the sun, but this year business is heavier than normal. Travel agents agree the two week school break for children is a major reason behind the exodus. While school is out, many teachers will be leaving Lelhbridge, they add. Alberta Motor Association travel agency manager Walter Robinson says the increased number of enquiries indicates "a lot of people are taking advantage of that break." "This can be a deadly place in February I don't mean to run down Southern Alberta, but not everyone will be interested in the Games." "It's a good opportunity for them to get says Mr. Robinson. Like all other travel agencies contacted by The Herald, P. Lawson Travel has no special Winter Games excursions. "We didn't plan anything says manager John Thackray. "Mid February is a busy time anyway, but we're busier than he adds. Gayle Jensen, manager of Thomas Cook Son says his travel agency has Lethbridge residents booked on ski holidays in Austria and tours of Disneyland. One city tour business which has scheduled special excursions during the Games reports success with bookings. Northern Tours is planning two excursions through Southern California. Northern tour director Gail Cleveland says both two week, family oriented tours are "almost full." Northern is also offering Lethbridge residents a seven day gambling tour to Las Vegas. Travel agents admit they handle a small percentage of travel arrangements being made by local families planning to join the Games ex- odus. Many people will probably jump in their cars and head out of town, one travel agent suggests. The Lethbridge Herald Second Section Lethbridge, Alberta, Friday, February 7, 1975 Pages 15-28 Winter cave at Lethbridge Centre BILL GROENEN photo Not even dirt piles behave the way they're supposed to when fall prey to the chomp of a front-end loader at the Lethbridge its cold. This cave formed when moisture penetrated the top of Centre development, the mound and froze solid, leaving only the dirt underneath to Haste to succor Syncrude flayed Herald Legislature Bureau _ to the legislature." The EDMONTON The Social Credit opposition Thursday began to assemble its case against the Syncrude deal signed Monday. Opposition House Leader Bob Clark called a press conference Thursday after- noon to ask why it took the government only 48 hours to require at least 60 to 90 days to decide. Former premier Harry Strom (SC Cypress) told the legislature Thursday night that the reason the govern- ment was delaying the issue of shares in the Alberta. Energy Company was probably because it knew potential investors considered Syncrude risky. Leighton Buckwell (SC Macleod) told the house that the government tied up Alber- ta's entire windfall oil profits in Syncrude during a "48 hour junket in Winnipeg." The government might stand to make a billion profit from a potential investment of billion, he said, but the previous administration did the same with conventional oil without "one cent of risk to the people of Alberta." 'RISK' PORTION The government Has repeatedly said it is investing only million in the "risk" portion of Syncrude, that energy company holdings will nearly all be "non risk" ones in a pipeline and power plant, that 50 per cent of the profits plus profits from its share of the plant is a good deal, and that many billions of dollars in income will flow into Alberta from the project. Mr. Clark told the press conference that the public could actually make a com- mitment of billion in the next six years, with no limits on what the eventual costs might be. "We have to question how the government could within 48 hours make such a huge commitment on behalf of Albertans from reports the government refuses to release premier has refused to make large parts of some of the studies commissioned public because of contractual agreements with Syncrude. The conclusions of the reports have been tabled. PUBLIC FUNDS Clark said Syncrude must proceed. But he scored the government, for allowing the investment climate to deteriorate so public funds had to be injected. The first oil sands plant built under the Social Credit administration was built without public money, he said. Mr. Strom said the project was 'caught between the Alberta and federal governments. It was impossi- ble to find financing because of changing, royalties, the confrontations between governments and the decision to cut off exports of oil The government could not expect investors to come forward when only weeks ago cabinet ministers (Attorney General Merv Leitch and Treasurer Gordon Miniely) were telling the public how risky the whole thing was. "Now we have government saying this is a tremendous development and should be supported by the people of our province. How many Alber- tans are prepared to invest in a venture that has been described by government members as a risky ven- 'NOT TELLING ALL' "Within 48 hours of receiv- ing the studies com- Mr. Buckwell said, "the three governments (Alberta, Ontario and Ot- tawa) committed themselves to 1600 million of our money." Mr. Buckwell said the government is "not telling the people of Alberta the full, true story, only what it wants to tell them." Margaret will visit Games Margaret will be here for the Winter Games, but Sacha and Justin will miss the show. The prime minister's of- fice Thursday confirmed- thai Margaret Trudeau will accompany- Prime Minister Trudeau during his whirlwind 24-hour visit to the Winter Games. But the Trudeau's two children Lougheed to be here twice Premier Peter Lougheed will make two brief visits to Lethbridge during the Canada Winter Games. The premier's office said Thursday that Premier Lougheed will meet Prime Minister Trudeau in Calgary during the morning Feb. 11. Later that day, the premier will fly to Lethbridge for a VIP reception at LCC and opening Games ceremonies at the premier will return to Edmonton later the same night. His wife will not ac- company him, a spokesman for the premier's office said. Premier Lougheed will return to Lethbridge Feb. 19 for an Alberta government reception, and leave short- ly afterwards. will stay at 24 Sussex 8 Drive, the PMO said. The Trudeaus are -ex- pected to arrive in rnid- ig afternoon Tuesday for a VIP reception at LCC, i followed by official open- 8 ing. ceremonies at the 8 Sportsplex. On the following mor- ning, Prime Minister JS Trudeau is expected to don 8 skates for the official 8 christening of the 400- metre speedskating oval. Later the same day, he will w fly to Westcastle to watch 3 alpine skiing competition and perhaps display his B jtyle on the slopes. 8 The Trudeaus are scheduled to leave Lethbridge early Wednes- 8 day afternoon. When you're all alone airport taxi not limousine When is a limousine service not a limousine service? When you're the only passenger, that's when. And the difference between a limousine and a taxi service to and from Kenyon Field air- port is exactly "It's not really a limousine explains Dave Dan- forth, operator of Royal Taxi, the newest cab company in town. Royal took over the business of getting Time Air passengers to the airport from Radio Cab about a week ago. Radio Cab got into the business when Bridge Limousines, run by Time Air, went out of business, ap- parently due to difficulties finding and keeping drivers. .Bridge Limousines used to operate a Volkswagon van with the Time Air emblem and colors. "We run a taxi out said Mr. Danforth. "If there's more than one passenger, we charge the limousine rate But if there's only one passenger, he gets stuck with a tag. That's the airport trip charge as set out in the city bylaw regulating taxi rates. All the rates were changed in December at the request of city taxi companies, who said they needed an increase to stay in business. "We can't run for less than said Mr. Danforth of the airport trip. His firm, which operates a dispatch from the York Hotel, has three cars and will soon have four. It's a 24 hour, seven day a week service, Mr. Danforth said. A spokesman for Time Air the company's only concern was that the taxi limousine operator get Time Air passengers to the airport in time for its flights.