2016 marks the third year in a row that I spent New Year’s Eve celebrating somewhere other than Perth, if you consider Pemberton to fall under that category. On this occasion I had the pleasure of counting down the clock in Seattle, Washington with fellow scholar Julian. Much to everyone’s surprise and delight, a little bit of celebratory snow started falling from the sky shortly after midnight.
Since snow is unusual for Seattle, and the timing was particularly coincidental, I’m going to take it as a lucky omen that 2017 will be full of new surprises. However I couldn’t spend the rest of the year standing around pondering whimsically, there was work to be done.
At our first morning meeting of the year, it was evident that everyone at Fraser was ready to tackle the year ahead. A recently completed study released today outlined how the province of Alberta has now lost its tax advantage in the region thanks to policy changes and new tax implementations over the past 18 months.
The provincial government has attempted to solve a burgeoning debt issue with increases in corporate and personal income taxes, rather than addressing the source of the problem: bureaucratic overspending. These tax increases are the last thing Alberta needs right now, as its heavily oil and energy based economy is still reeling from low commodity prices. The result of these policy changes will likely be the steady decline of Alberta’s economic growth, which has until now been better than all other provinces.
As well as the Albertan tax release, there are various other projects already underway. As for me, after spending countless hours trawling through the internet on the hunt for undiscovered petroleum and mining associations, the mailing lists for this year’s surveys are about as complete as I will be able to get them. In fancier terms, the marginal productivity of my time spent searching has decreased exponentially. For 2017, I’m moving on to bigger and better things.
Kenneth Green, Senior Director of the Natural Resources Centre under which I have been working, is due to begin delivering the first of many presentations at the end of January. The first will be in Stockholm in Sweden, and a later one in March will be in Toronto at the annual conference for the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada.
The key focus of Ken’s talks will be summarising and highlighting the results of both the 2016 Mining survey and 2016 Petroleum survey. For the large amount of different industry groups that are being presented to, there is a correspondingly large amount of customised presentations that must be made. Thus, I should be kept quite busy over the next week or so.