Ottawa turns a blind eye to oil price crisis in Alberta
The NDP government had a bucket list of things Ottawa could do to quickly ease the massive oil price differential.
It got a drop in the bucket. Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau decreed capital cost writedowns of 100 per cent for Canadian manufacturing, including oil and gas.
That will be very helpful, over time.
But there was nothing else in Wednesday’s federal fiscal update.
No rail cars, no locomotives, nothing to speed up pipeline construction, no specific industrytargeted measures for a business and province in deep trouble.
EDMONTON A United Conservative Party transition team is behind the scenes preparing for victory in next year’s election, looking at who to appoint to senior political staffer roles and agencies, boards and commissions.
Once the party’s election platform is finalized this winter, UCP Leader Jason Kenney will ask chief of staff Jamie Huckabay and his team to develop a plan ready to implement “100 Days of Change” should his party win.
One policy Kenney is considering is selling off a swath of Crown land in Peace River Country, about 488 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, to help plug Alberta’s economic hole.
Kenney outlined his plan during an opposition panel at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) fall convention in Edmonton Wednesday.
It would hearken back to a similar program under former premier Ed Stelmach, Kenney told media afterwards, when around 100,000 acres of Crown forest were auctioned off, cleared, and turned into farm land.
“It’s something I’m seriously looking at ... to generate some Crown asset sales to help deal with our deficit, but also as a way to grow the economy by turning what is currently unproductive land into productive agricultural land,” Kenney said.
Kenney has long talked about private health care options and doubled down on that message Wednesday, saying Alberta should follow the lead of other provinces.
“My view is that Albertans deserve at least as many choices as British Columbians or Quebecers have,” he said.
“I do not think we should be rigid and ideological.”
Kenney said Alberta needs to take a step back and ask why it’s paying more for less.
“Why do British Columbia and Quebec — with older populations — manage to get ... shorter wait times in many areas for less money? I think one of the reasons may be the positive effects of greater competition within those systems,” he said.
Cutting health-care costs — and public sector spending overall — also means greater discipline in negotiating future collective bargaining agreements, Kenney said.
He acknowledged the NDP has made gains in that area, but said increases going back to the mid2000s saw pay increases well above the rate of inflation or economic growth.
Throughout Wednesday ’s panel and to media, Kenney repeated his message about the need for fiscal belt-tightening.
Pointing to a report this week by Calgary economist Trevor Tombe, Kenney said if GDP growth can be increased to three per cent a year, “all you need to do is hold spending at zero, with zero absolute cuts, and you get to a balanced budget by 2021.”
But he admitted that won’t be the UCP’s plan.
“There’s going to be some other policy choices we make like eliminating the carbon tax, and there may be some priorities where we decide to invest more,” he said.
UCP Leader Jason Kenney says a potential sale of Crown land in Peace River Country “is something I’m seriously looking at” should his party win in next year’s election.