Sum­mer­time cof­fee talk cen­tres on re­quired so­lu­tions for Al­berta’s fu­ture

Medicine Hat News - - COMMENTS - Drew Barnes

Jerry Se­in­feld said some­thing like “this cof­fee thing is get­ting so crazy, we are stop­ping for cof­fee on our way for cof­fee.” I men­tion that be­cause I love how Cy­press-Medicine Hat­ters drink large amounts and I just had the sum­mer to drink many cups with friends and con­stituents. Al­most ev­ery­one men­tioned their con­cern for our econ­omy and jobs, gov­ern­ment debt and the NDP’s pend­ing in­crease in the car­bon tax on gas for our trucks, cars and heat­ing our homes.

I of­ten get asked what my ideas are to re­ju­ve­nate the Al­berta and Cy­press-Medicine Hat economies. This is no easy task be­cause we have seen the prov­ince un­der Rachel Not­ley’s NDP plum­met 8 per cent in GDP, take on $35 bil­lion of debt, cap oil­sands ac­tiv­ity and smother small busi­ness with reg­u­la­tions and a mis­guided car­bon tax.

There must be a multi-pronged ap­proach to bring jobs back and wage lev­els higher in Cy­press-Medicine Hat.

First, it is time that the NDP gov­ern­ment rec­og­nizes that our re­gion of the prov­ince has ev­ery­thing the Edmonton heart­land and Leth­bridge re­gions of­fer, just not the gov­ern­ment sup­port. We have in­cred­i­ble hard work­ing peo­ple, an abun­dance of af­ford­able land and nat­u­ral gas, trans­porta­tion cor­ri­dors and pipelines, the best cli­mate and prox­im­ity to Amer­i­can mar­kets. We need the Al­berta gov­ern­ment to quit tax­ing us to the sky and giv­ing pro­ject af­ter pro­ject to an­other re­gion.

Re­cent ex­am­ples of cor­po­rate wel­fare trans­fer­ring hard earned tax dol­lars out of our re­gion are the Cavendish potato pro­cess­ing plant in Leth­bridge and the Stur­geon diesel re­fin­ery and two petro­chem­i­cal projects in the Edmonton area In­dus­trial Heart­land. Bil­lions of dol­lars of cor­po­rate wel­fare and only a tax bur­den for our part of the prov­ince! In gov­ern­ment, I would ask our re­gion to be es­tab­lished as a unique eco­nomic zone and all tax points and rev­enue to be kept here and growth to be fa­cil­i­tated equal to Edmonton, Leth­bridge and other parts of Al­berta.

Sec­ond, Al­berta’s high per capita gov­ern­ment spend­ing, last year’s $13 bil­lion cash bor­row­ing, rapidly in­creas­ing tax­a­tion and a de­clin­ing credit rat­ing and lay­ers of bu­reau­cracy and reg­u­la­tions have led to many en­ergy and di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion ex­ec­u­tives pulling their job cre­ation in­vest­ment from Al­berta. Bil­lions will only re­turn when the Al­berta Ad­van­tage is re­stored by lim­it­ing the size of gov­ern­ment spend­ing to the per capita level of other prov­inces, and us­ing our oil and gas roy­al­ties to re­duce the tax bur­den for all Al­ber­tans.

Gov­ern­ment cab­i­net min­is­ters must be lead­ers in de­mand­ing bu­reau­cracy stream­line reg­u­la­tions to be­come com­pet­i­tive, ef­fi­cient and ef­fec­tive.

The third part of our turn­around must be with our Cana­dian pro­vin­cial part­ners. Trans­fer pay­ments are too high, un­fair and de­pen­dency build­ing. In­ter-pro­vin­cial trade bar­ri­ers are oner­ous, costly, job-killing and against the heart and soul of this great Cana­dian fed­er­a­tion. Pipelines need to be built in all di­rec­tions for ac­cess to mar­kets in Canada, Amer­ica and Asia.

I won’t pre­tend that all this will be easy to achieve. Far from it. But with the right leader at the helm, we can re­store op­por­tu­nity and pros­per­ity to south­east Al­berta. This is ex­actly why it’s more im­por­tant than ever that the United Con­ser­va­tive Party’s first leader has the strength, prin­ci­ples, and ex­pe­ri­ence to take on these fights. This is ex­actly why I’m sup­port­ing Ja­son Ken­ney as the next Pre­mier of Al­berta.

Drew Barnes is MLA (UCP) for Cy­press-Medicine Hat.

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