Alberta Election: NDP strategy of attack ads, says one pundit, is 'going nowhere fast'

Alberta Election Update: NDP strategy of attack ads, says one pundit, is ‘going nowhere fast’

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By Naomi Knoch, SEARCH Apprentice Writer

[] Momentum continues to build with grand promises, policy platforms and no small amount of mudslinging setting the stage for the 2019 Alberta provincial election slated to be held April 16. A total of 13 different parties are officially competing for the right to represent Albertans in government, each of them insisting they alone have something distinctly vital to offer the province.

VIDEO: [Rebel Media] Latest NDP attack ad on Kenney exposes their LGBTQ hypocrisy | Sheila Gunn Reid. [Mar 21, 2019]

The main battleground exists between The United Conservative Party (UCP) and The New Democratic Party (NDP), with UCP Leader Jason Kenney and NDP Premier Rachel Notley facing off in what’s being called an election like no other. Will orange crush, or will the blue of conservatism reign once again in Alberta? Kenney continues to hammer against what he alleges has been a destructive Prime Minister Justin Trudeau-Notley alliance, while the Notley and her fellow party members accused him of attacking young people,  simply being unfit to be premier and riding unicorns.

Pipelines, carbon tax, and the energy industry remain key issues, along with the need to call attention to education, health care and Alberta independence.

Here are the top issues addressed by political hopefuls on the campaign trail last week:

NDP’S NEGATIVE CAMPAIGN ‘COUNTERPRODUCTIVE’: As the NDP continue to trail in the polls, it’s becoming increasingly clear that personal attacks against Kenney aren’t proving successful. According to political analyst David Taras, Notley should be focusing her campaign on past successes and future plans instead of trying to run a negative campaign against Kenney. Taras said NDP’s efforts are counterproductive and “unless there’s something I’m missing, they’re going nowhere fast.” (Source: Calgary Herald)

EQUALIZATION REFERENDUM: Kenney said if Alberta doesn’t get its pipelines soon, UCP would give Albertans the option of an equalization referendum vote by 2021. Equalization is a system where federal funds are given to poorer provinces, with Quebec and the Atlantic provinces sucking up most of the money. “We are going to make it very clear to Prime Minister Trudeau that if we do not get the completion of a coastal pipeline, we will give Albertans an opportunity on voting to remove equalization from the Canadian constitution, Kenney told an audience in Red Deer on Saturday.“ (Source: The Star)

ATTACK ADS LAUNCHED: The NDP’s strategy included launching negative attack ads aimed at the Conservatives. “We will continue to push out policy, but we also have a track record of leadership and integrity,” claimed NDP Edmonton-Glenora candidate Sarah Hoffman. Said the UCP’s Kenney: “They want to talk about anything except jobs, economy and the pipelines. They cannot defend their economic record.”  (Source: CTV News)

UCP PLEDGES $30M TO DEFEND ENERGY: Kenney announced UCP would redirect $30 million from current government advertising and create a “war-room” to combat onslaughts against Alberta’s energy industry. Kenney said Alberta can’t afford to not fight for the industry. “I think it’s the best investment we could possibly make in defending an industry that is the sources of about one-third of the jobs in this province.” Economic and Trade Minister Deron Bilous said Kenney’s plan copies work the NDP is already doing and “it’s Rachel Notley who has managed to move the needle on this issue.” (Source: Edmonton Journal)

ALBERTA LIBERALS DEMAND UPDATE ON TRANS MOUNTAIN: David Khan, leader of the Alberta Liberal Party, made a campaign stop in Calgary on March 22 and said Albertans have been “kept in the dark” on the status of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. The National Energy Board set a 90 day deadline for the Federal government to make its decision and ALP is demanding an update from both the NDP and federal government on whether that deadline will be met. (Source: CBC News)

ABERTA PARTY FOCUSSING ON DENTAL HEALTH: Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel told media on March 22 that if elected his government would prioritize children’s dental health. Mandel’s comments, at the Glenmore Water Treatment Plant in Calgary, included details on AP’s plans to expand the Alberta Health Care Insurance plan to cover annual dental checkups for children aged 12 and under, as well as, encourage larger cities to add fluoride to drinking water. “This is essential,” said Mandel. “Every child in Alberta deserves basic dental health.” (Source: Edmonton Journal)

TODD BEASLEY TO RUN AS INDEPENDENT: Todd Beasley, formally on the UCP ballot, announced he is running as an Independent Conservative MLA candidate. Beasley was ousted by UCP in July after breaking party rules, but said he decided to run independently after all the support residents of Medicine Hat and Brooks promised him. At a speech in Brooks, Beasley said: ”I’m running under the banner ‘keeping conservatives conservative’ and at the end of the day, what I’m hoping to achieve, is I want to make sure that the promises made, are the promises kept.” (Source: Chat News Today)

CORPORATE TAX CUTS: “We all win when the economy is doing well,” said Randall McRae, partner with a Calgary accounting firm, in response to Jason Kenney’s proposed cut of corporate taxes from 12 per cent to eight per cent. Notley called the proposed cut a giveaway to “big corporations and the wealthiest one per cent.” However, McRae says that lower taxes would help small and large businesses and lead to more work and opportunities for everyone. (Source: Edmonton Sun)

SCOTIABANK INTERESTED IN PURCHASING ATB: In a March 21 news release, NDP Finance Minister Joe Ceci announced a previous “detailed proposal” submitted by Scotiabank to purchase the provincially owned Alberta Treasury Branch. Ceci said he turned down the proposal back when it was offered and asked Kenney if he would follow up with it. Kenney said the UCP would be open to consulting with Albertans on how to grow ATB in the future and it would remain a Crown corporation if his party is elected. (Source: Financial Post)

ALBERTA PARTY TO INCREASE EDUCATION FUNDING: Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel promised an annual funding increase from $490 million to $690 million for inclusive education in Alberta. Mandel wants to double the number a teacher aides, reduce class sizes, build more schools, and fund more student enrolment. “There is nothing more important than our children, and if we give them the educational tools that they need to be successful, it will allow them to pursue their dreams and goals, which will make Alberta a more successful province,” Mandel said. (Source: The Star Edmonton)

MORE ALBERTA, LESS OTTAWA: Leader of the Freedom Conservatives Derek Fildebrandt launched his election campaign in Calgary on March 21 and said the party is against “big government socialism” and “big business corporate welfare.” Fildebrandt said the FCP’s fundamental philosophy is that if you aren’t hurting anybody else “it’s not the government’s bloody business.” The former Wildrose Party MLA turned independent is the sitting MLA for Strathmore-Brooks and said if major changes don’t happen soon, his party would hold a  referendum independence for Alberta. “I am tired of Alberta being treated as a second-class colony,” said Fildebrandt.  (Source: CBC News)

CARBON TAX A NOTLEY/TRUDEAU COLLUSION: “The NDP carbon tax is killing jobs . . . it’s had zero effect in reducing emissions,” said Kenney on March 20. He pledged to wipe out the carbon, calling it a product of the Notley- Trudeau collusion. Kenney said now the levy now taxes emissions at $30 a tonne and will reach $50 by 2022, but that by cancelling the tax 6,000 new jobs would be created by 2024. Also, Alberta’s GDP would be boosted to $1.27-billion. Environment Minister Shannon Phillips called Kenney’s comments “demonstrably false” and said that the climate change plan funded by the tax has reduced Alberta’s greenhouse gas emissions by seven megatons, created 3,600 renewable energy jobs, and saved three dollars in energy costs for every dollar invested in it. “While Rachel Notley has sensible climate leadership policy, Jason Kenney appears to be riding unicorns,” said Phillips. (Source: Calgary Herald)

OIL INDUSTRY FAVOURS UCP: “A Kenney government would be very strongly welcomed by the oil industry” said Rafi Tahmazian, a senior portfolio manager specializing in energy investing at Canoe Financial in Calgary. Tahmazian added that in 2015 the oil sector was already struggling due to low commodity prices and the NDP entered into government “not really showing recognition for that.” Billions of dollars in foreign capital have fled the oil sector since 2017, partly due to pipeline incapacity. “Our members are on our last legs,” said John Bayko, spokesperson for the Canadian Association of Oilwell Drilling Contractors. (Source: Reuters)

THE MUDSLINGING CONTINUES: NDP Health Minister Sarah Hoffman released a video from Jason Kenney’s past last Wednesday, saying it’s more proof that he’s unfit to be premier. The 30-second clip shows Kenney working with a pro-life group in the late 1980’s to refuse spousal hospital visitation rights to gay couples, during the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco. “I’m proud to be here and showing you who Mr. Kenney is,” said Hoffman. (Source: Edmonton Journal)

TEENS WEIGH IN ON UCP MINIMUM WAGE PROPOSAL: Notley is calling Kenney’s proposal to implement a $13 wage for workers aged 17 and under “an attack on young people.” Kenney said the aim is to create entry-level jobs for teens. Young people attending the 21st Annual Youth Hiring Fair in Calgary had varying views on the proposition. Cecilia Raweater, 17, said it seems like a way for employers and government to lowball young people, some of whom are struggling to help out their families. Brooklyn Roan, 18, said the wage would be beneficial for small businesses, and increase the incentive to hire youth. (Source: Calgary Herald)

30 FREEDOM CONSERVATIVES CANDIDATES: Derek Fildebrandt, leader of the Freedom Conservatives Party (FCP), says his party provides an option for Albertans who find themselves too far right for the UCP. Fildebrandt said the FCP wants Alberta to be treated the same as Quebec, and has “30-odd” candidates “strategically placed in ridings where it believes the NDP are less likely to win a seat.” (Source: CBC News)

ALBERTA ADVANTAGE PARTY NEW CANDIDATES: Former UCP member Sandra Kim is now running as an Alberta Advantage Party (AAP) candidate in Camrose. Kim came under fire last year for social media posts from 2015 and lost her UCP nomination in August. AAP Leader Marilyn Burns, co-founder of the Wildrose Party is running in Edmonton South-West. (Source: Edmonton Journal)

NOTLEY-TRUDEAU “SABOTAGING” ECONOMY: Kenney took yet another run at what he said is an alliance between Notley and Trudeau to sabotage Alberta’s economy, “Notley sold us out to Trudeau and all we got in exchange is a carbon tax and no pipelines,” Kenney said last Wednesday. According to critics, Bill C-69 would make it even more difficult to get pipelines built, and Kenney said if it came to it, UCP would launch constitutional challenge against the legislation, turn off oil taps to B.C., and forge pro-energy alliances with other provinces. “Let’s not give up on Canada because of the Notley-Trudeau alliance, let’s end the alliance,” he said. (Source: Calgary Herald)

BILL 6 UPDATE: Kenney promised scrapping the NDP’s Bill 6 will be a top priority. Kenney said the legislation is flawed, and NDP chose to “force the Bill through” without concern for those it directly impacts. If elected, “a UCP government will immediately launch comprehensive consultations with farmers, ranchers, agriculture workers and others on how best to balance the unique economic pressures of farming with the need for a common sense, flexible farm safety regime.” NDP Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier charged that this action would be misguided and accused Kenney of merely looking for a few extra votes. (Source: Mountain View Gazette)

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