Back to being cranky now. Yesterday left too many people with the impression I wasn’t a curmudgeon. So why don’t we talk a little local politics. Who isn’t excited to talk about license plates? I know it is maybe the biggest issue facing the world today. Why not get some pretty license plates? Ok well world hunger is too big of an issue for me today, so we are starting small.
The province of Alberta has a announced a plan to change the license plates next spring. The old Red lettering on a white background just isn’t cutting it anymore. We need something busier. Of course we also need a more reflective plate to help photo radar out. You can go online to vote for your selection. This is the easy part of the pitch, I mean who doesn’t want something shiny and new. So no problem right? Vote for the new plate and slap them on cars. Case closed.
Not so fast, lets take a deeper look at this. No cranky guy, like me, accepts an american idol style online vote that easy. First off the cost. This program will cost the province $15 million. So how are they going to recoup that cost? Like any good government would, they will stick there hands back into my pocket. Their explanation is this, there are 165,000 unregistered vehicles on the road right now. Registering those vehicles will bring in $12 million. Problem is at $80 those vehicles bring in $13.2 million, seems like the PC’s are already skimming off the top. For Hancock’s suite? Also to me it seems like we should be pulling these cars over and fining them, seems like the fine has to be significantly more. Maybe I am wrong but I am not sure these guys are jumping to get these new plates just because they are pretty. It will take until spring of 2016 to complete the roll over to the new plates, so we front $12 million they are expecting for these unregistered vehicles? So I have to pay $5 more for my registration every year to cover this change over. Of course conveniently the $5 does cover the $15 million needed, in fact more than enough, extra Hancock suite cash.
My next question is the environmental impact of this decision. While I am far from an environmentalist, this seemed like the low hanging fruit. In 2012 there were over 3 million registered vehicles, plus the 165,000 unregistered vehicles. That means there will be well over 3 million license plates that have to be made from new raw materials, and over 3 million that need to be disposed of. There is no program announced to help with the recycling of the previous plates, so where do they go. If you leave it to the general population a huge segment will end up in the dump, should this not be a plate exchange program? Would be a new thing to see this government have foresight but hey why not try it once.
Finally they took off the slogan from our plates. No longer is Alberta “Wild Rose Country” it will just say Alberta.ca at the bottom. Why? Ask Danielle Smith, leader of the Wildrose Party, and you get an interesting answer. Smith thinks it is a strictly political play in order to not advertise for the the party. Both conservative parties fighting for leadership, and honestly the Wildrose seems like the actual Conservative party now, likely to get some extra votes. I would say Smith is overreacting but honestly in this case it almost has some credibility. The PC’s have invested a lot of time in minimizing the Wildrose Party, knowing full well the Albertans are interested in a new alternative. The PC’s have done nothing but piss away money and lie to the public since the Stelmach days. Sad to think this is what politics have come to.
At the end of the day, it seems odd for the PC’s to be putting through actual change in the province while they have no actual leadership. Faced with a new leader coming in, is this just another lame duck policy from Hancock? More importantly why do I need to pay for new plates, the old ones were fine. More people are going to participate in this online vote than will show up to remove the corrupt PC government from power. Truly a statement about the politics of our province. We will be all excited to get our pretty new plates but none of us will think what the costs are or what the motives are.