Economists agree almost unanimously that a consumption tax could help level out the peaks and valleys of our provincial revenue now tied to the price of fossil fuel. If combined with a decrease in personal income tax, a sales tax could lead to increased economic diversification while capturing spending from out-of-province visitors. A consumption tax or a revised tax system could pave the way for a balanced budget in Alberta without severe cuts to services thereby enabling future generations to take full advantage of our resource assets. Alberta is the only province in Canada without a sales tax. While not advocating for implementing a sales tax, the speaker will expand on how the introduction of a revised tax system in the province can be framed so it would be acceptable to Albertans.

Speaker: Ron Liepert

Ron Liepert was born and raised in Saltcoats, Sask, where his primary education began in a one-room elementary school. After his senior high schooling, he moved to Alberta, where in 1971 he enrolled in the Columbia School of Broadcasting and then worked in media between 1972 and 1980. Liepert was press secretary for Premier Peter Lougheed from 1980 - 85 and he participated as such in a number of federal-provincial conferences including the Constitutional Accord of 1982 and the energy negotiations of the early 1980s. Liepert later served as the Trade Director of Western U.S. Operations in Los Angeles for Alberta Economic Development, from 1986 to 1991. In 1991, Liepert joined Telus and was involved in the company’s negotiations to purchase ED TEL and the BC TEL merger. He also contributed to the rebranding of AGT to TELUS. Liepert spent 2000 to 2004 running his own public relations/communications consulting business and operating a childcare centre in downtown Calgary. Returning to his interest in politics, Liepert sought and won the riding of Calgary-West in 2004 and in December 2006 he was sworn in as Minister of Education. During his term, Liepert was instrumental in negotiating a five year agreement with the Alberta Teachers Association and resolving the longstanding unfunded pension liability issue.

Following the general election in March 2008 Liepert was appointed Minister of Health and Wellness. During his term as Minister the government streamlined the provincial health system incorporating all the regional health authorities into one. In January 2010 Liepert was appointed Minister of Energy for the province. He led the competitiveness review of the oil and gas industry which resulted in the changes to the royalty structure that is in place today. Following the PC provincial leadership campaign, Liepert was appointed Minister of Finance in Oct 2011 by new Premier, Alison Redford. He served in that role until May 2012 when he did not seek re-election.

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