The NDP vs the UCP … the right and wrong tools for the task

The global energy transformation can’t be harnessed with the tired conservative play book of tax cuts for the wealthy, cuts to public services, deregulation, privatization and the erosion of workers’ rights.

In fact, that’s the opposite of what we need!

Responding to the challenges of the global energy transformation requires being brave on the issue of taxation. Fair taxation will raise the necessary revenue to make sure we’re prepared - to support innovation, to invest in new and developing sectors and economic opportunities, to fund social programs that support our people through this period of change. Ultimately, it also requires a willingness on the part of government to take aggressive action in the public interest.

Jason Kenney’s focus on tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts to spending on public services and infrastructure will leave us exposed and unprepared.

And his decision to scoff at efforts to diversify our economy shows he doesn’t understand the need to get off the boom-bust roller coaster and prepare for a dramatically changing global energy economy.

The NDP, on the other hand, actually  has a plan to deal with the global energy transformation. It’s thoughtful, comprehensive, rooted in realism -- and supported by leaders in the industry.

Unlike the UCP, the NDP understands that the global energy economy is being transformed in fundamental ways. And they’ve spent the past three years working with energy pragmatists within the oil and gas industry and the broader public to prepare for that change.

Just what is the NDP approach?

Here are some key components to the NDP’s approach:

  • On the Energy Tranformation: getting a pipeline built to the west coast to access markets other than the US (something successive Conservative governments weren’t able to do).
  • making Alberta the lowest-emission heavy oil producer in the world,  so we can keep selling to countries with increasingly stringent emissions requirements

Building a bridge to a greener future:

  • diversifying, both within and beyond the oil and gas industry by introducing programs that attract billions of  dollars of investment to Alberta’s petrochemical industry and other value-added oil and gas initiatives. These investments in refining will create thousands of good jobs in construction, operations, maintenance and spin-offs for smaller businesses that support and supply the new plants.
  • using new auctions for power generation and money collected from the carbon tax to support innovation and the development of new business opportunities in non-oil and gas sectors like renewable energy, building retrofits, agribusiness and manufacturing.

On investing in infrastructure like highways, bridges, schools and hospitals.

  • Investing in infrastructure helps keep Albertans working and creates many opportunities for contractors and suppliers.creating spaces for kids in schools and patients in hospitals;
  • giving businesses the roads, bridges and other infrastructure they need to be productive and competitive

On investing in people:

  • Refusing to engage in austerity and knee-jerk cuts to important public services like education and health care — because they understand that cuts and austerity don’t end recessions, they make them worse
  • rejecting calls to respond to private-sector lay-offs with public-sector lay-offs, because they understand that laying off a nurse or a teacher won’t bring back jobs for laid-off pipefitters or welders — it will just result in more unemployed Albertans
  • supporting education, health care and other public services that improve Albertans’ quality of life, and create a well-trained workforce that drives the economy forward and help attract investment
  • remaining open to ideas like expanding the Medicare umbrella to cover prescription drug and introducing a universal child care program – both of which would make life more affordable for individuals and families.

Change is coming

This election, the question we have to answer is: who do you trust to manage that change?

Is it Jason Kenney, who denies that we are in the midst of a global energy market transformation?

Or is it Rachel Notley, who is currently working with industry and others to manage the change and seize the opportunities it presents.

For us, the choice is clear. Only the Notley government is ready to embrace these challenges in a way that is responsible, optimistic and forward-looking.