VIDEO: Kenney takes blowtorch to NDP policies in 2019, aims for jobs progress in 2020

VIDEO: Kenney takes blowtorch to NDP policies in 2019, aims for jobs progress in 2020

The NDP’s long-term plan to move the electricity system to a capacity market was scrapped

In 2019, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney made good on his promise to take a blowtorch to core policies enacted by the former NDP government.

In 2020, the goal of the United Conservative Party leader will be to get traction on his signature promises to bring in more jobs, boost the economy, get more pipelines going and balance the books in three years.

He’ll need to do it as Albertans grapple with higher costs for tuition, school and municipal fees flowing from Kenney’s first budget, while public sector workers promise push back on looming layoffs and job cuts.

Kenney says the goal is to communicate the message but not lose resolve.

“I didn’t go through all of this work in the past three years, working to unite (the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties), two warring factions — all of this work, to sit in this office and preside over a broken status quo,” Kenney said in a year-end interview.

“I priced in that there would be protest when we tried to bring fiscal balance back to Alberta or focus on private-sector economic growth.”

En route to winning the April election, Kenney promised rapid action to liberate an oil-and-gas-based economy he said was plodding in mud due to federal policies, foreign-funded activism and NDP tax and fee hikes.

Change was quick and acrimonious as Kenney, facing former premier Rachel Notley as Opposition leader, hurled insults and accusations across the aisle in two legislative sittings.

The UCP ended the NDP’s consumer carbon tax on gasoline and home heating, saying it didn’t help the environment but hurt the economy. That tax will be replaced in the new year with a federal one.

The NDP corporate income tax rise will be gone by the new year, reduced to 10 per cent from 12, and will eventually be cut to eight per cent.

NDP minimum wage hikes for youth were cut to help get more of them hired. The sweeping NDP education curriculum revamp was halted and is under review.

A publicly funded superlab for drug testing was tossed out. NDP workplace rules and injury insurance for farms were overhauled, exempting small operations.

The NDP’s long-term plan to move the electricity system to a capacity market was scrapped.

While the NDP focused on public delivery of health care, Kenney’s UCP is ratcheting up more private delivery of public care to reduce wait-lists.

The NDP froze public sector staffing but avoided deep cuts. This spring, though, nurses and health support workers have been warned that layoffs may be coming.

The NDP have accused the UCP of governing for its own benefit, rewarding boardroom buddies by reducing the corporate tax and firing the elections watchdog who had been investigating the party. They say voters have been suckered in a bait and switch, given Kenney promised to continue current funding of education and health care as before, then failing in the October budget to match money to inflation and population growth.

The UCP has seen recent popularity poll numbers sag.

But Kenney said he expects shipping more oil by rail, eventually getting more out via the Line 3 project to Wisconsin and the Trans Mountain expansion to the British Columbia coast. And a leaner, more effective public service and a balanced budget will be the rising economic tide to lift all boats.

The government needs to continue to communicate not the what, but the why, Kenney said.

“This is what conservatives often are not good at. Usually we kind of put on our green eye shade and sharpen our pencils to add up the sums and we don’t explain why are we doing that.

“If people see the benefits of reform, ultimately, they will support it. But if you get spooked by entrenched opposition, then why are you even bothering?”

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

skip2
Rimbey Christian School students experience the joy of giving

Grades three and four students raised $2,000 for Somalian children

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 1,731 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday

The province’s central zone has 992 active cases

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said growing COVID-19 case numbers continue to be a concern in the province. (Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Alberta announces 1,077 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

There are currently 14,052 active cases in the province

Bids for Kids poster
Wolf Creek Youth Foundation online auction gets ‘overwhelming’ response

Santa’s Bids for Kids auction to benefit youth programs in Rimbey, Ponoka

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

A person enters a building as snow falls in Ottawa, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. Ottawa has been successful in limiting the spread of COVID-19 during its second wave thanks to the city’s residents who have been wearing masks and staying home, said Ottawa’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
People to thank for Ottawa’s success with curbing COVID-19: health officer

The city’s chief medical officer said much of the credit goes to the people who live in Ottawa

The Red Deer Games Foundation has made changes to its grant program as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo supplied)
Red Deer Games Foundation adjusts grant program due to COVID-19 pandemic

The foundation postponed the spring 2020 grant program due to the COVID-19 pandemic

Alexandre Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty to a mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque, arrives at the courthouse in Quebec City on February 21, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mathieu Belanger - POOL
Court strikes down consecutive life sentences; mosque shooter has prison term cut

The decision was appealed by both the defence and the Crown

Gold medallists in the ice dance, free dance figure skating Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, of Canada, pose during their medals ceremony at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charlie Riedel
Olympic champions Virtue, Moir and Tewksbury among 114 Order of Canada inductees

Moir and Virtue catapulted to national stardom with their gold-medal performances at the Winter Olympics in 2018

Shoppers line up in front of a shop on Montreal’s Saint-Catherine Street in search of Black Friday deals in Montreal, Friday, Nov. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

skip2
Rimbey Christian School students experience the joy of giving

Grades three and four students raised $2,000 for Somalian children

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Town Council asks for a mask bylaw to be brought forward for consideration

The bylaw would require face coverings in all indoor Town-owned and operated facilities

Most Read