Ken­ney wants ‘hard num­bers’ on po­ten­tial Olympic bid

UCP leader skep­ti­cal about es­ti­mates, wor­ries about adding to Al­berta’s red ink

Calgary Herald - - CITY+REGION - SAMMY HUDES shudes@post­media.com Twit­ter.com/ Sam­myHudes

United Con­ser­va­tive Party Leader Ja­son Ken­ney urged Olympic pro­po­nents to “treat Cal­gar­i­ans like grown-ups” when it comes to trans­parency sur­round­ing a po­ten­tial 2026 bid, call­ing him­self skep­ti­cal of the idea with­out fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on costs.

“It would be a great mo­ment of civic boos­t­er­ism. The ques­tion is, ‘can we af­ford it?’ I still don’t know,” Ken­ney said Tues­day fol­low­ing a lunchtime speak­ing en­gage­ment put on by the Cal­gary Cham­ber of Com­merce.

“I’m the leader of the Op­po­si­tion and no­body has sent me any­thing re­sem­bling a cost es­ti­mate of how much this would cost tax­pay­ers. I would think that if the pro­po­nents are se­ri­ous about this, in­clud­ing the mayor of Cal­gary, maybe they could ac­tu­ally present some hard num­bers so that Al­ber­tans can make an as­sess­ment.”

Cal­gar­i­ans will have the op­por­tu­nity to vote in a Nov. 13 plebiscite on whether to pro­ceed with a bid for the Games.

But key de­tails about a cost-shar­ing agree­ment to fund the Games re­main un­cer­tain. The pro­vin­cial NDP gov­ern­ment has promised to re­lease its com­mit­ment to the Olympic tab at least 30 days be­fore the plebiscite, but the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has so far been mum on the de­tails of its con­tri­bu­tion.

“I’m not go­ing to tell peo­ple how to vote in the plebiscite one way or an­other, but I, for one, am un­de­cided right now. I’d love to see the Olympics but I don’t know if we can af­ford it with our huge debt and deficit right now,” Ken­ney said.

“We’re broke. We’re hear­ing now the pro­vin­cial share would be at least $1 bil­lion. I share the skep­ti­cism of many peo­ple about th­ese kinds of ini­tial es­ti­mates on ma­jor projects like Olympics al­ways be­ing very con­ser­va­tive. I sus­pect the num­ber will grow and grow and grow from there.”

Dur­ing the event at a down­town Cal­gary ho­tel, Ken­ney in­vited cham­ber mem­bers and the pub­lic to help in­form the UCP’s plat­form by sub­mit­ting their in­put in the months to come.

He po­si­tioned him­self as a cham­pion of Al­berta’s en­ergy sec­tor and said it’s time for the prov­ince to “move from be­ing on the de­fence, from be­ing apolo­getic about our largest in­dus­try.”

“I would im­ple­ment what I call a fight-back strat­egy,” said Ken­ney, adding that Al­berta faces a “cam­paign of defama­tion” when it comes to pub­lic dis­course sur­round­ing the oil and gas in­dus­try.

If elected, he said his gov­ern­ment would be “ag­gres­sive” in its cam­paign to stand up for work­ers in the en­ergy sec­tor.

“We’ll be­gin with es­tab­lish­ing a well-re­sourced war room in the Min­istry of En­ergy to re­spond in real time to ev­ery lie and myth told about our en­ergy in­dus­try here in Canada or around the world. We’ll set up satel­lite of­fices if nec­es­sary to do so,” he said.

Ken­ney said he in­tends to re­lease a costed vi­sion of the party plat­form be­fore next year’s elec­tion. He said the UCP’s “ba­sic com­mit­ments,” should it get elected, in­clude call­ing a sum­mer ses­sion “that be­gins the work of un­do­ing so many of the poli­cies that have done dam­age to in­vestor con­fi­dence.”

He re­it­er­ated that re­peal­ing the pro­vin­cial car­bon tax im­ple­mented by the NDP would be one of his first acts as premier.

“It is our view that this tax is all eco­nomic pain and no en­vi­ron­men­tal gain,” Ken­ney said.

“It pun­ishes peo­ple for — not do­ing some­thing that’s a vice — driv­ing peo­ple to work, liv­ing nor­mal lives, run­ning small busi­nesses.”

I’d love to see the Olympics but I don’t know if we can af­ford it with our huge debt and deficit right now.

DAR­REN MAKOWICHUK

“The ques­tion is, ‘can we af­ford it?,’” says UCP Leader Ja­son Ken­ney of the Olympics.

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