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