May 21st, 2018

MLA Report: U.S. politics are obscuring important topics closer to home

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on January 19, 2018.

It seems these days that many Albertans have found rich entertainment watching American politics. Love or dislike what is happening south of the border, it is obscuring two things that are important, closer to home.

First, for many years, there were three big names in Canadian conservative politics.Former prime minister Stephen Harper was one of these big names. His unfortunate defeat in 2015 reminds us that a steady, fiscally prudent eye on our hard-earned tax dollars, withan ear to needs of the West, was better for our economy. Less debt liability for future generations is something that Canadians value and is something that we owe to those who will come after us.

Jan. 27 ends the Saskatchewan premiership of the second well-known and admired Canadian conservative. Many of us are fans of Brad Wall because he has always been the strongest advocate for our energy sector, the economic needs of the West, rural life and agriculture.I was especially impressed that, in his last budget, he achieved balance, shared the pain among many, and protected front line workers and necessary services. He demonstrated that you can be fiscally responsible without taking away the top-of-the-line services that his people enjoy. His commitment to making tough decisions and not kick the debt and deficit can “down the road” to our kids and grandkids is a strong, admirable achievement. Our Swift Current neighbour did his province well!

The third, and deservedly lauded Canadian conservative, is new UCP leader Jason Kenney.His reputation for team building, consistent conservative values and hard work are exemplified by remarkable achievements. His resume is impressive including his performance record as the minister of national defence, minister of citizenship and immigration, and minister of employment. Perhaps his most impressive achievement may be uniting conservatives in Alberta, winning two leadership races, and becoming an MLA — all within a year.

We don’t want to miss this amazing opportunity Albertans now have to give support to the only remaining of the three big conservative names actively working for a stronger, fiscally conservative Alberta. In Cypress-Medicine Hat, what I am asking for is as much help as possible to ensure that our ideas, values and policy are front and centre in the new UCP party policy. This means an opportunity for families, communities and economic opportunity to become our guiding focus once again!

Speaking as a conservative Albertan focused on limited government and local decision making, I believe we need to look to enhance our social safety net through better supported community groups. This gives Albertans the ability to become self-reliant and exercise the utmost personal freedom. This will allow us to become the strongest voice in all of Canada for jobs, opportunity, and more disposable income for families.

The second important economic consideration taking place on this side of the border being obscured by our captivation with American politics is the enormous accumulating debt in Alberta. It is hard to fathom that we went from $7 billion in net assets in May of 2015 to being burdened by $50 billion in debt today. This astronomical debt that our premier has accumulated means that families will be burdened with $2 billion in annual interest payments for years. Our NDP government is now faced with a dramatic American tax overhaul that will keep more money in the pockets of investors, drive up job creation decrease taxes on average people, and, perhaps what is most concerning, will surely reduce Alberta’s competitiveness and chances to attract investment and jobs.

All three Canadian conservatives mentioned have something in common — incredibly scrupulous attention to the economic well-being of the next generation. If there is anything that politicians should agree on, be it socialist or free-enterprise, it is this: We need to make sure that the next generation can be empowered to succeed instead of playing the dangerous game of “kick the big spending, whimsical debt can down the road.”

It is my hope that your UCP team can continue to put pressure on this government and continue to be the advocates for the economy that Albertans deserve.

Drew Barnes is the Cypress-Medicine Hat MLA representing the United Conservative Party and is the party’s critic for finance and treasury board.

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