Ken­ney’s poli­cies ‘a risk’ for Al­berta, Not­ley warns

PressReader - BRUCE_CAROL_ROWE Channel - 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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