EDMONTON (660 NEWS) – Rachel Notley, Jason Kenney, Stephen Mandel and David Khan finally gathered in the same place in the run-up to the provincial election, which is less than two weeks from now.
In the provincial capital, the leaders took questions and traded stiff jabs over issues our province is and will be facing for the foreseeable future.
First up was opening statements, familiar stances that have been echoed by leaders since the writ was dropped.
Questions followed and off the top, it was relations with Ottawa that was first directed at Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel.
The leaders jumped in and immediately began trading blame, with their forty-five seconds to answer uninterrupted.
Mandel says Alberta has been misunderstood on the national level.
"Alberta has a position they must respect"
— Tom Ross (@Tommy_Slick) April 4, 2019
Liberal Leader David Khan was given the floor to follow and began that the angry attitude of Albertans towards Ottawa, BC, and Quebec is not unwarranted, saying that cooler heads must prevail and that cooperation is where the real strength lies.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley was next, staying with the theme of displeasure, blaming both the current and previous federal governments.
“Mr. Kenney says I should just be picking fights,” said Notley. “My job is to stand up for Albertans,” adding her government got the federal government to buy a pipeline.
Finally, UCP Leader Jason Kenney was given his chance to address provincial relations with Ottawa.
Jumping quickly to Rachel Notley’s “alliance” with Justin Trudeau, Kenney rejected cooperation and said UCP will sue the feds.
Also mentioned was a federal referendum on the issue of equalization.
The first open debate portion then opened, and Notley went straight to Kenney on his record of his time in Ottawa as an MP.
“It was actually the Conservative government that you were a part of, that actually wrote the formula that you currently want to sue,” said Notley.
Kenney then chimed in blaming the NDP about the poor record of pipeline construction attempts, saying we’ve been sold out.
“You made a disastrous mistake,” said the UCP Leader. “You sold Alberta down the river to your ally Justin Trudeau. All we got was his cancellation of Northern Gateway, his killing of Energy East, and your joint surrender to Obama’s veto on Keystone XL.”
The room finally made its way to Stephen Mandel, who blamed both Notley and Kenney for the current situation of pipelines.
All this to cap off the first round of debate.
After a short break, David Khan fielded a question about debts, deficits, and our reliance on energy.
“Replacing most provincial income tax with an HST,” said Khan. “Economists have said that we need a sales tax to stabilize our revenue,”.
Followed by the UCP’s Jason Kenney.
Kenney now talking about spending restraint, without cuts. Promising balance within four years.
— Tom Ross (@Tommy_Slick) April 4, 2019
Before ending his answer Kenney took another jab at the NDP’s solution to debt.
“They’re trying to wish their way out of it with unrealistic growth projections,” said Mr. Kenney.
Avoiding direct rebuttal to Kenney, Rachel Notley stood by the NDP projection of balancing by 2023.
“When we do, what we will also have is strong schools and strong hospitals, and we will have not made reckless cuts in the process,” claimed Notley.
Lastly before open season on the question, Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel brought up his past as Mayor of Edmonton and a businessman.
“We need to create jobs, we need to create opportunity, which will increase revenue,” said Mandel. “That will allow us to eventually balance the budget, but jobs are far more important at this point in time,”.
The party leaders then sparred over the issue bringing us to a break before the next question.
The third inning, third question, and first up to bat UCP Leader Jason Kenney.
City TV Reporter Courtney Theriault brought up pipelines.
Kenney dug up an old Notley quote about Alberta being the “embarrassing cousin” before his approach to finding pipelines a pathway to tidewater.
“We would build partnerships with pro-pipeline provincial governments, facilitate aboriginal co-ownership, a critical piece in this and challenge our energy companies to step up to the plate to more aggressively advocate for Alberta’s ethically produced oil and gas,” said Kenney.
Stephen Mandel up next, who then praised the oil sands and says that the oil sands subsidize programs all over the country.
Mandel and his party also have a different idea for exporting oil.
“Build a rail line out of Fort McMurray up through Alaska, it’s a great opportunity to get it out of our country,” said Mandel. “The government of Alaska is already talking to President Trump about getting involved with it.”
Liberal Leader David Khan was quick to remind the candidates that he is the only candidate to have actually laid pipe here in Alberta referring to a job he had back in college.
He added that the Alberta Liberals support projects such as TMX on top of other infrastructure before taking his shot at past federal and provincial governments.
“They failed on indigenous consultations and on the marine review jeopardizing the project, the NDP failed to hold them to account, we will make sure consultations are done right and the pipeline is built responsibly,” said the Liberal Leader.
Rachel Notley, the NDP leader, told Albertans that getting a pipeline has been the fight of her life and she is frustrated as well.
“It’s not built yet, but I believe we will get shovels in the ground by this fall,” said Notley.
The leaders were given another open session to contend before taking on the next issue of inclusion.
Stephen Mandel took the question and delivered numbers that say 40 per cent of children on the street are from the LGBTQ community.
“Why is that?” asked Mandel. “Somewhere along the way they went home and their parent have said ‘we don’t want you here’ so GSAs are to be put in place so we can protect children.”
A minister of inclusion and engagement for the purpose of improving those relations was also mentioned by Mandel.
Jason Kenney opened with a message of respecting all people before jumping into the mosaic that is his UCP party and a proposal of protection.
“Provide grants to improve security around vulnerable community installations like mosques and Hebrew schools that might be targeted by hate-inspired violence,” said Kenney.
David Khan then championed his party’s past support of GSAs and strong message of inclusion.
Khan: "The test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable". Stating how the Liberals have had the longest standing support for GSAs, says they have has the strongest platform for diversity, inclusion, battling hate speech.
— Tom Ross (@Tommy_Slick) April 5, 2019
Free debate started with Stephen Mandel saying that the fact this even has to be debated is sad before calling out Kenney and the UCP who then responded by re-upping on his party’s stance on GSAs
“Surely we should acknowledge that there may be cases where it’s in the best interest of the child to engage the caring and loving support of the parent,”
Rachel Notley then said that this is an issue that should have already been solved and Kenney’s UCP candidates are “fundamentally out-of-step” with Albertans’ beliefs, all this before alluding to Mark Smith’s and John Carpay’s recent and past controversies.
The next question found Jason Kenney addressing the past provincial election and how the NDP came to power.
“I think people understandably wanted a change of government last time, and I think people want a change this time to get our economy back on track,” said Kenney.
When Rachel Notley got her chance to respond, trust was the key word and she didn’t shy away why she thinks the province shouldn’t trust Jason Kenney,
“Many of Mr. Kenney’s candidates has views that are demeaning to women, that are white supremacist, that are Islamophobic, and anti-LGBTQ and he has not dealt with them in a way that show leadership,” said Notley.
On with the trust was Liberal Leader David Khan who appealed to Albertans with a message of familiarity with young people and immigrants.
And on the leadership side of things Stephen Mandel preached teamwork and trust.
“We are grassroots, unlike some of the other parties,” said Mandel. “We have our candidates announcing different programs because we trust them, we know how confident they are.”
The debate shuffled on to the environment and David Khan addressed the question first.
“It may not be popular, but a carbon tax is the most efficient way to reduce carbon emissions while not punishing the economy as long as its revenue neutral,” said Khan.
Jason Kenney and the UCP immediately rejects the notion of a carbon tax.
Kenney says they need to take on climate change seriously. But calls the carbon tax a cash grab. Says the NDP hid it in the 2015 election. Brings out Trudeau being an ally once more.
— Tom Ross (@Tommy_Slick) April 5, 2019
The Alberta Party leader took on the issue next and Stephen Mandel said creativity, not taxation is the key.
“We could have encouraged canola producers their issue with China right now is green canola and convert that into a support for petroleum products,” said Mandel. “Why don’t we get some kind of subsidy, take Mr. Trudeau’s 5 per cent GST and all that to be subsidized with hybrid cars?”
Rachel Notley went up next and talked about the importance of a dialogue on climate change especially for the future.
“We have a made in Alberta plan that rebates 2/3rd’s of Alberta households that supports families, supports Alberta businesses and moves our energy sector forward,” said the NDP leader.
Leaders also took on questions concerning healthcare and classroom sizes before delivering closing statements.