Page 12 - June 26, 2017
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One-on-one interview with PC Leader Jason Kenney

by Adrienne Tait our system. British
Columbians and Quebecers
Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney was have far more options for
in Edson for a town hall meeting at the Galloway private care for example
Station and Museum on June 21. The Weekly Anchor than we do without
sat down for a one-on-one interview with Kenney compromising their public
prior to the public meeting. systems. If you’re in B.C.
and you are told you have
Q) With the province’s credit rating having been to wait two years to get
downgraded yet again, what does that mean for joint replacement surgery
Albertans, for our province? and you are unwilling to do
A) Our credit rating has been downgraded five that you can go to the
times. It means we have to pay more to finance our Cambie clinic and pay for it
debt. That is more money going to bankers and bond out of pocket, if you can
holders and less to health care and education. It also afford it. That takes one
means that if it keeps going in the same direction we person out of the queue in
may have a hard time borrowing money in the the public system. That
markets. It’s an assessment of the risk. That’s bad shortens the queue for other
news and at the end of the day that means that for people waiting for care.
every dollar that we borrow we’re paying more in You’re taking your own private money for that two parties are voting identically in the legislature
interest. Imagine for a household having a really bad procedure. You’re not taking a dime out of the public 90% of the time.
credit rating. It’s harder to get credit when you have a system, you’re actually freeing up resources for other
bad credit rating so it’s a vicious cycle. people in the public system. You can do that in Q) That 10% difference - where does it lie?
Quebec, you can do that in B.C., but you can’t do that A) On technical issues, not major issues. There is
Q) Do you have a plan to restore our credit in Alberta. It seems to me that we should have at least no major issue in Alberta politics since the last
rating and address the debt which current as many private choices in Alberta as Quebecers do. election on which the two parties have disagreed.
projections estimate will be $90 billion by the next The differences that exist between the two parties lie
election? Q) Historically, when there has been talk of a in the past, I say let’s keep them there. Let’s bury
A) $94 billion. Standard and Poors in their latest two-tier system it has been met with a very them there along with the hatchet, let’s learn from the
downgrade estimated by 2020 an Alberta debt of $94 polarizing response. How would you address the mistakes form the past without getting trapped in the
billion for a province that five years ago had no debt. nay-sayers? past.
I think we have to recognize we have a spending not a A) Just by saying that the critical thing is that we
revenue problem. We have the most expensive maintain a high quality, publicly funding and Q) If the choice is to amalgamate you are
government in Canada and the most expensive state administered system. For certain procedures, I don’t quickly launched into a leadership race. Can it be
or provincial government in North America. We are know why we would oppose – we’re cutting the done in such a way so that you are ready if
spending 25% more per person than B.C. to deliver queue. Every time somebody steps out of the public Premier Rachel Notley decides to call a snap
the same services. Which makes no sense. They queue into a facility like the Cambie clinic they are election?
deliver the same services as Alberta, in some areas freeing up resources, dollars, nurses, and doctors for A) The United Party will have a leadership election
with better quality, for 25% less per person. What’s somebody in the public system. I don’t see how that’s committee to come up with the rules and to oversee
happened really is that for the past 15 years we have a problem. We actually have it. Some would argue the leadership election which will occur on October
been undisciplined about managing spending growth that we have a two-tier system but the other tier is just 28. It will be a single member vote. Any member of
and have ended up with a lot more waste in our in the United States. A lot of wealthy and desperate either party will be able to vote. I hope we have a
system than other provinces. The old saying goes “if Canadians go to the United States if they are number of good candidates offering their talents. If
you mind the pennies the dollars take care of unprepared to wait a year or two for surgery. Many somebody other than myself is elected they will have
themselves.” Provinces like British Columbia, will take their Canadian dollars and often be treated by my total support. This thing will only work if people
Saskatchewan, and others have minded their pennies. Canadian specialists that have left for the United like me are prepared to park our egos.
$100 oil allowed provincial governments in Alberta to States. I don’t know how that benefits Canada. In terms of the possibility of a snap election I think
sign collective bargaining agreements and make it is very unlikely. The NDP got elected partly
spending promises that were unsustainable. We need Q) What kind of feedback are you receiving from because of public anger over the last PC government
to get to that same level of efficiency as other your party and Albertans across the province with that violated the election date legislation, moved up
provinces. If we were spending just as much as B.C. regards to the unity agreement? by a year (very cynically), and so why would they
per person we would be spending $11 billion less A) Very positive. Referendum on the July 22 on the tempt the same fate? If they did, my response would
which is the size of the current deficit. unity agreement that Brian Jean and I signed on May be “Hallelujah!” Every day they are not in power is a
The second point would be economic growth. The 18 which would create the United Conservative Party. good day for Albertans so frankly I hope she does. If
best way to reduce the deficit is through a growing So far everywhere I go the support is virtually she did, we would be prepared. The last paragraph of
economy that generates revenues for the government. unanimous. It’s enthusiastic, new people are getting the agreement says that Brian and I would consult our
So, job #1 for the next government has to be bringing involved that have never been involved in politics. caucuses and membership on an alternative to deal
growth back to our economy by restoring investor Half of Albertans did not vote in the provincial with that snap election. One thing we might
confidence. Billions of dollars, over $30 billion, of election that is one of the reasons we ended up with contemplate is a non-competition agreement where
investment has fled Alberta in the past couple of this NDP government. More and more people are we would agree not to run candidates against one
years. We need to bring some of that capital back to realising they have to get involved. Memberships are another. Then you would avoid the vote splitting and
the province. I would start by immediately repealing being sold in both parties. We can’t take the outcome we would form a coalition government and do the
the carbon tax, getting some of our tax rates back for granted, especially on the Wildrose side. The PC’s merger afterwards.
down, demonstrating a real commitment to move to a require a 50% threshold to make the merger happen.
balanced budget, undoing some of the damaging Wildrose needs 75 %. That is not a done deal. We Q) What is the biggest falsehood being spread
regulations of the NDP, and making it clear that encourage people if they want a competent free right now?
Alberta is open for business again. enterprise government back in Alberta please join one A) There’s so many! They characterise any effort at
or both parties to make it happen. fiscal responsibility as “hacking” and “slashing”
Q) How does your party plan to combat the health care and education. This year they are
rising healthcare costs? Would you adopt a user Q) What does a PC member stand to gain or lose increasing overall spending by 7.5%. Apparently
pay system? by amalgamating? they think that even slightly slower increases in
A) Healthcare costs have been growing faster that A) What you stand to gain is reuniting the divided spending or even a spending freeze is “hacking and
growth of inflation, the population, or the economy Conservative political family in Alberta and slashing.”
and crowding out everything else. Healthcare now is eliminating the risk of a second NDP term. If we go It is the big lie. We are going to hear it every day
half of what we spend. It used to be about a third. If into the next election with Wildrosers and PCers for the next two years. They are going to try to scare
it carries on in the same direction there won’t be any fighting each other for the same voters and volunteers the pants off people before the next election. That’s
money for schools or infrastructure or universities, we risk a potential second NDP term which I think all they can do. It’s a campaign of fear and smear. A
and so on. We have to do a better job of controlling would be devastating for the future of Alberta. Not new poll came out today having Premier Notley as
the growth in health care costs. That doesn’t mean just in terms of our economy but our education system one of the two most unpopular premiers in Canada
cutting health care services. We have the most and to avoid that we need one big broad diverse free- with only 28% approval rating. They are going to get
expensive health care system in Canada, and Canada enterprise party. What do you lose? The word more and more desperate. Their deputy premier
has the most expensive publicly administered health progressive in the title. We have kept the core called their opponents “sewer rats” recently. One of
care system in the developed world. principles in the agreement. It is a good compromise their surrogates, the guy who runs Progress Alberta,
The evidence isn’t that we are getting the right bang between PCs and Wildrose. says he wants to “kick his opponents teeth in.” This
for the big buck that we are spending. The spending I think there are two main reasons PCs have been is unfortunately going to get really nasty. But if they
is not generating the results it should be. I think there reluctant. One is an emotional one. They are go low we’ll go high. They want to go into the ditch
is a huge amount of bureaucratic inefficiency in the connected to the legacy. Some hard-core members we will stay on the road. If they want to sling mud
back offices and the administration. The province has have spent hundreds of thousands of hours we won’t sling it back. I have never said a single
gone through centralisation, decentralization, contributing to the party. They don’t want to dilute critical word about the premier herself, I respect her.
recentralization every time it does that it seems like that legacy. I have said that New Democrats themselves are
there is another level of bureaucracy that never goes I think some are concerned, they think that generally good people but they just have bad ideas. I
away. Wildrosers have radically different positions on issues want to keep this on the level of ideas and have an
We need to push the dollars to the frontline that would shift the party’s position. But in fact, the honest debate.
services. I think we need to explore more options in
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