By Naomi Knoch, SEARCH Apprentice Writer[TheChristians.com] Two weeks into the 2019 Alberta provincial election campaign political parties continue to amp up their game by announcing extravagant new promises with increasing rapidity. Candidates are furiously campaigning as the April 16 election date draws nearer. Each day brings a flood of new policy updates and announcements as parties try to garner support and sway voters. All the stops have been pulled and long forgotten, or previously ignored, issues are being dragged to the forefront in an effort to gain headway in popularity.
VIDEO: [Edmonton Journal] UCP Leader Jason Kenney filled up his tank at a gas station in Edmonton and vowed to scrap the federal carbon tax the day it was implemented in four provinces. [Apr. 1, 2019]
Premier Rachel Notley, leader of the New Democratic Party (NDP) and Jason Kenney, leader of the United Conservative Party (UCP), both released their full party platforms last weekend giving Albertans what Notley called a “stark choice” of who they will elect as government. Kenney said he wants to send the message out to Canada and the world that Alberta is open for business again. Both the NDP and UCP outlined their stance on what remain key issues in Alberta, namely, economy, health care, environment and education.
Kenney and Notley will join Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan and Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel in a debate that will air live tomorrow (Thursday, April 4th) from Edmonton.
Here are the top issues addressed by political hopefuls on the campaign trail last week:
SEXUAL MISCONDUCT INVESTIGATIONS: The Alberta Party said sexual misconduct investigations should be handled by the Legislative Assembly office instead of the Speaker of the Alberta Legislature as is now the case. In a statement Sunday, the party said since speakers are elected by the governing party this can “introduce a conflict of interest concern when the MLA under investigation is also from the governing party.” (Source: The Star)
NDP RELEASE ELECTION PLATFORM: The NDP’s 41-page document was presented Sunday at the Belgravia Community League in Edmonton. The platform includes the NDP’s child care program, a $1.3 billion plan to build more schools and the promise to balance the books by 2023-24. Notley called it a “concrete plan to create jobs, to diversify our economy in the energy sector and beyond.” (Source: Edmonton Journal)
NDP PLATFORM HIGHLIGHTS:
HEALTHCARE: The NDP platform stated that access to high-quality healthcare is one of the most important things a government can deliver. Underneath a heading “Health Care When You Need It,” the party outlines Notley’s past work in the health sector – reducing wait times for breast cancer, stokes and radiation treatment, prioritizing investment in hospitals, increasing the number of ambulances and passing legislation that prevents harassment at abortion clinics. The NDP plans to continue a commitment to Albertans health by lowering surgical wait times, assuring stable funding, and investing in health infrastructure in Calgary and Edmonton.
LAW ENFORCEMENT: Notley pledged to continue her work in lowering crime rates and increasing Albertan’s sense of safety. NDP invested $10 million in additional funding to hire officers and staff, which lead to an 11 per cent decrease in rural property crime. The party also plans to increase funding for legal aid by $70 million, to ensure access to the justice system for all Albertans, work to shorten timelines for court cases and support rural Crime Watch organizations. ”We will work with RCMP and municipal police services to direct resources to allow officers to spend more time on the street rather than behind a desk,” said NDP.
PIPELINES AND OIL: “Getting our oil to new markets requires new pipeline capacity. That’s why Rachel Notley has fought tirelessly to get our products to tidewater,” said NDP, highlighting Notley’s efforts to advocate for pipelines. The Premier called for significant changes to Bill C-69 and a scrapping of Bill C-48, brought a profit of $2.2 billion to Alberta by shipping crude in rail cars and stood up against B.C.’s threats to restrict the movement of Alberta oil. Notley pledged to put pressure on the federal government to re-approve the Trans Mountain and move promptly on its construction.
For complete details and the full NDP platform:
UCP UNVEIL ELECTION PLATFORM: The UCP unveiled its full platform in Calgary Saturday. March 23, Kenney took 40 minutes to outline policies from a 117-page document he called a “blueprint for change.” Supporters stood behind Kenney holding letters spelling out jobs, economy and pipelines – issues that remain the UCP’s primary focus. (Source: Edmonton Journal)
SOME UCP PLATFORM HIGHLIGHTS:
JOB CREATION/BUSINESS TAX CUTS: The UCP’s Job Creation Strategy would cut the province’s business tax by about one-third resulting in the creation of 55,000 jobs and a $13-billion growth to Alberta’s economy. The Job Creation Tax cut would reduce the current provincial tax rate on employers from 12 per cent to eight per cent over four years, bringing it to the lowest tax on employers in Canada resulting in Alberta becoming a “magnet” for job-creating investment. “The NDP recklessly hiked taxes on job creators by 20 per cent in the middle of a recession.” Now 170,00 Albertans have lost their jobs, tens of thousands have given up looking for work, unemployment has climbed for at least the past six months and the average family’s take-home pay has dropped by $6,400 since the NDP was elected, said UCP.
SCRAP THE CARBON TAX: Bill 1 would repeal the NDP’s “job killing” carbon tax “cash grab” that takes $1.4 billion from ordinary Albertans and costs Alberta’s economy $2.5 billion annually. The UCP’s promise to get rid of the carbon tax would save a single mother of two $400 a year, a mom and dad with a minivan and pickup truck more than $1,800 over four years just in gas costs; small or medium-size businesses $4.500 annually – and lead to 6,000 new jobs. UCP said voters must choose between a “UCP $1.4 billion tax cut or an NDP 67 percent hike.”
FAIR DEAL FOR ALBERTA: “Alberta has been under relentless assault by some of our fellow provinces and Rachael Notley has been unwilling to stand up for Alberta’s interests and unwilling to stand up to Justin Trudeau’s Liberals,” said UCP, pointing out that since 1961 Albertans have given $611 billion more in federal taxes than it received in transfers and services. UCP “will no longer tolerate governments in other parts of Canada benefitting from our resources and hard work, while trying to block those resources and pin down our economy.” UCP will get ensure a fair deal for Alberta.
BALANCE THE BUDGET: UCP has devised a “credible, costed, independently verified plan” to balance the budget “within their first mandate.” The NDP’s out-of-control spending and annual multi-billion dollar deficits has Alberta heading toward a $100-billion debt wall which deprives spending on essential resources and will burden future generations, said UCP.
For complete details and the full UCP platform:
NDP SPENDING PROMISES QUESTIONED: UCP House Leader Jason Nixon is holding the NDP accountable on all the spending promises they’ve made this election campaign. Nixon said the NDP has a poor track record and no credibility, given the broken promise to balance the books by 2017, as well as the provincial debt still on track to hit $95 billion by 2023. While Notley claims her party is still able to balance by 2023, Nixon said that the premier needs to explain which taxes she would hike to make this happen. (Source: Global News)
PARTY LEADERS DEBATE: Alberta’s main political Leaders will take part in a 90-minute debate open only to parties elected to Legislature under their current party banner. Derek Fildebrandt, leader of the Freedom Conservatives will not be allowed to participate. He called this “grossly undemocratic.” The debate in Edmonton on April 4 starts at 5:30 p.m. MT. (Source: CBC News)
UCP RELEASES HEALTH PLAN: Kenney released the UCP health plan to media Thursday and said his government would address NDP shortcomings, with brutally long wait times being at the top of the list. Kenney said seen little improvement has been seen despite the NDP having added $3B to the health budget. If elected, he promised to guarantee Albertans receive the surgery they need within four months or less. Kenney plans to accomplish this by inviting third-party clinics to bid on the publicly insured system, the same strategy Saskatchewan implemented in 2010. (Source: CTV News)
DISAGREEMENT OVER OPIOID CRISIS: Notley stated March 21 that safe drug-use sites “have saved hundreds of lives,” while Kenny expressed doubt on the matter and said the sites have lacked a focus on the treatment and recovery side of the issue. Kenney referenced the negative impacts such sites have had in the beltline in Calgary and said the government needs to move “very carefully and not just throw up sites for the sake of it.” (Source: Calgary Herald)
NEW NDP EDUCATION PROMISES: If it holds onto power, the NDP committed to spending $1.3 billion on 70 new schools over the next five years and boost student enrolment at the added cost of $72 million per year. Notley shared the plans with supporters around a kitchen table in Calgary last Thursday. The NDP claim they will “strengthen and modernize” Alberta’s education system. (Source: Edmonton Journal)
UCP CRIME PLAN: claim Kenney said the NDP have been “soft” on the “crime wave in Alberta” and that a UCP government would crack down on criminal activity. He spoke to press in Lac Ste. Anne County, stating that crime in Alberta is up and the wrong people are getting parole. “This is not a justice system,” he said. The UCP would spend $10 million for 50 new Crown prosecutors and support staff and $20 million over four years for the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT). (Source: CBC News)
CANDIDATES FACING OFF AGAINST THE GIANTS: Alberta Party’s Rachel Timmermans and Liberal Samantha Hees face the daunting task of running against Kenney in Calgary-Lougheed and Notley in Edmonton-Strathcona. Timmermans is facing off against Kenney and Hees against Notley. Both candidates admitted they’re not expected to win, but still want to give voters an option. Hees referred to the race as being “almost like a David and Goliath story.” Said Timmermans: “At the end of the day it will be a fantastic experience no matter how it turns out.”(Source: CBC News)
UCP ON TRADE OPPORTUNITIES: Kenney said Alberta has one of the lowest levels of employer investment in skills training across the industrialized world. Speaking at a transport company in Edmonton March 26, he highlighted pros in Germany’s trade system and said the country grants trades and professions equal status. The UCP would expand emphasis on the trades, quadrupling the number of students placed in paid apprenticeships. “I believe we need to reinvent the vocational high school. We need more flexible forms of experiential learning to prepare young people to succeed in the future economy,” he said. (Source: Edmonton Journal)
UCP TO SCRAP SCHOOL ACT: Kenney continues to stand by his pledge to replace the NDP’s amended School Act, thereby allowing parents to be notified if their child joins a gay-straight alliance (GSA) club. Kenney said the UCP would offer the strongest legal protections for GSA’s in Canada. Notley said Albertans deserve better than Kenney’s proposition. “The announcement Mr. Kenney made yesterday will have very cruel and hurtful consequences and I think he should reconsider.” (Source: CBC News)
FCP KICKS OUT TWO CANDIDATES: FCP ousted two of its candidates over alleged anti-Islam, anti-immigrant ideas. Fildebrandt said it has replaced the candidates in the upcoming election — one over anti-Islamic social media posts and views, the other for “controversial posts.” One candidate, Clayton Knutson, who was running in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, refused to step down and was officially removed. Knutson said he doesn’t believe a true libertarian party should kick him out for being critical of Islam. “You have to be Sharia-compliant if you’re going to run for a party in Alberta,” he said. (Source: Global News)
ALBERTA PAROLE BOARD: Kenney announced Saturday March 23 in Red Deer the UCP’s plan to cut ties with the National Parole Board of Canada (NPB) and create an Alberta Parole Board, mirroring the systems in Quebec and Ontario. While the NPB would still be responsible for federal inmate decisions, UCP spokesperson Christine Myatt said whether or not inmates in provincial penitentiaries should be granted conditional release would be up to a provincial board. (Source: Edmonton Journal)
CONSUMPTION SITE IN MEDICINE HAT: Residents of Medicine Hat are concerned about the possibilities of increased crime and needle debris as arrangements are being made to set up a supervised drug consumption site in their city. Drew Barnes, UCP candidate for Cypress-Medicine Hat, said consultation and lack of insight are both issues and the crisis could be handled more effectively by implementing stricter penalties for drug crimes. “When a government like the NDP comes in and just forces this on us, you don’t get people’s involvement, you don’t get the best ideas, you don’t get people’s support.” (Source: Chat News Today)
COMMITMENT TO EDUCATION REFORMS: On Sunday, March 24, Khan outlined campaign promises from the Liberal party to ditch class-size guidelines, address labour shortages and help new Canadians find work. Khan also promised to boost settlement funding and investment in adult education. “Alberta Liberals are committed to new Canadians in Alberta,” said Khan. (Source: Calgary Herald)
ALBERTANS SUPPORT FOR SECESSION: A March 23 UCP news release cited a recent poll showing that support in Alberta for succession from Canada is running at 50 per cent. Kenney said that despite being proud Canadians, Albertans are tired of other provinces benefiting from their resources and holding back its economy. “We are by far the biggest contributor to the federation. We have always played by the rules, paid our taxes, and produced wealth for other Canadians, and it’s why we need to stand up and fight for a fair deal, a new deal, for Alberta in the Canadian federation,” said Kenney. Notley, speaking at a rally in Edmonton one day later claimed the NDP have defended pipelines to a much greater extent than the UCP. “We led the largest pipeline campaign across Canada and we have made the need to build pipelines a majority opinion across this country, including in British Columbia.” (Source: Global News)