Student Paper Award

The Canadian Tax Foundation-Bert Wolfe Nitikman Foundation Award for the Western Provinces 2012-13

Patrick Beatty

The Canadian Tax Foundation is pleased to announce that Patrick Beatty is the winner of the Canadian Tax Foundation-Bert Wolfe Nitikman Foundation Award for the best western provinces student paper of 2012-13 dealing with an aspect of Canadian taxation. 

Mr. Beatty’s paper, “When Politics and Economics Collide: Policy Implications for Reforming Oil and Gas Royalties,” was written for the Capstone research project at the School of Public Policy, University of Calgary. Mr. Beatty received his Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Calgary, where he was awarded the Jack and Eleanor Mintz Graduate Scholarship in Tax Policy. Mr. Beatty is a government relations adviser at Suncor Energy, Calgary.


Rising oil and gas prices have encouraged governments to increase their revenue from oil and gas development. In the last decade, both Alaska and Alberta updated their fiscal regimes to ensure that they received their “fair share” from petroleum projects. The fiscal changes implemented in both jurisdictions have proved to be extremely controversial and have provoked a strong debate over the best royalty design. In North America, the debate over fiscal regimes is often too politically charged to take account of the economics behind the achievement of the most efficient regime. The author argues that the political debate over oil and gas fiscal regimes does not reflect the economics of efficient oil and gas taxation. To make this case, he examines the economics of oil and gas royalties and the politics surrounding the fiscal changes in Alaska and Alberta. The political experience in both jurisdictions is illuminating: Alaska and Alberta share many similarities and offer excellent case studies of how royalty changes occur. The author concludes by providing some insight into how politics and economics have collided to produce less than efficient results.