Kenney’s policies ‘a risk’ for Alberta, Notley warns
EDMONTON Premier Rachel Notley signalled an election is close at hand Thursday when she ramped up her campaign rhetoric, taking aim at UCP Leader Jason Kenney and his promise to curb government spending.“I want to lay out the clear choice in the election, because I actually believe quite strongly that the choices Mr. Kenney will make are too big a risk for the people of Alberta,” she said in a speech at an Edmonton Chamber of Commerce event attended by various NDP MLAs and staffers.She accused Kenney of making inconsistent statements about how the UCP would limit spending if the party forms government.“Mr. Kenney has been trying to soft-sell his approach a little bit,” she said. “To some, he says he will freeze spending at 2015 levels. To others, he says that we should reduce spending by 20 per cent, which would of course mean cutting billions.”Kenney has said his party would consider a spending freeze.“If there are spending reductions, they would be relatively modest,” he said in a radio interview Tuesday. “I do think we can find efficiencies. We can do that without affecting the quality of front-line services.“We have developed a fiscal framework for a platform that involves eliminating the carbon tax, balancing the budget in the first term with some targeted investments,” he added.Kenney’s deputy chief of staff Matt Wolf said Thursday that the UCP will release a detailed and fully-costed platform during the campaign.“If the premier wants to campaign, she should announce that she’s dropping the writ on the earliest possible date, Feb. 1, as opposed to travelling the province making promises on the taxpayers’ dime for months,” he said in a statement.Notley said freezing spending would be harmful because of Alberta’s growing population.“You can’t do that without making cuts in other places,” she said, using education as an example.“We don’t control the number of kids that go into our schools every September,” she said. “If that goes up, you’re going to have to find a different way to deliver education that ultimately means more kids per teacher.“We’ve been trying to keep our spending roughly a little bit below population and inflation, but even that is a struggle. Bringing it to zero would create a lot of hardship.”Notley said Thursday that if re-elected the NDP wouldn’t institute a payroll tax, sales tax or health-care premiums.She also doubled down on criticisms she made last week over potential toll roads under the UCP.The UCP said the party never suggested applying tolls to existing public infrastructure, but tolls for projects, such as a road built to benefit industry, would be on the table.
Premier Rachel Notley accuses UCP Leader Jason Kenney of sending mixed signals on spending, ranging from a “soft-sell” message to talk of a 20-per-cent spending cut.
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