Edmonton business leaders support PC government; NDP dismiss them as ‘PC donors’

WATCH ABOVE: The continued strength of the NDP in recent polls has PC Leader Jim Prentice taking direct aim at the party’s economic agenda. Provincial affairs reporter Tom Vernon has the details.

EDMONTON — A group of Edmonton business leaders warned about the effect on Alberta’s economy if the PCs aren’t re-elected as government.

READ MORE: Alberta economy to experience slowdown: ATB Financial

“We must think carefully before we choose a government that will cut to the bone, as we experienced in the 1980s, or a government that will spend more than we can afford,” the group stated in a release.

The group cited the importance of maintaining stability to attract jobs and investment in Edmonton, particularly with the collapse of oil prices. That stability will be shaken if the NDP forms the government, particularly because of the party’s intent to increase corporate taxes and conduct a royalty review, they added.

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“These are about clear choices, let’s make no mistake. At a time when we have every opportunity to go to another level we just can not afford to go backwards and take a misstep,” said lawyer Doug Goss.

READ MORE: The big slowdown: as Alberta economy cools, ripple effects spread

The NDP said it isn’t a surprise that “a group of PC donors, including a former campaign co-chair” support the PCs.

The NDP claim the business leaders have contributed $86,712 to the PCs over the past five years, and an additional $8,500 to Jim Prentice’s leadership campaign.

The group consists of John Cameron, president and CEO of Keller Construction; John Day, president of John Day Developments; lawyer Doug Goss; Ashif Mawji, CEO of NPO Zero; Tim Melton, executive chairman of Melcor Developments; and Paul Verhesen, president and CEO of Clark Builders.

A comment made by Mawji during the meeting caused outrage on Twitter Friday evening.

“If there is no bottom line … there’s no money that goes to charities,” said Mawji. “We all make donations to charities,  there is no more excellence at the Stollery, as an example, or great programs at the university. There’s all those things that business contribute to. So it’s an important ingredient and we can’t forget that.”

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The hashtag #PCAAHostageCrisis was quickly trending across Canada in relation to the comment.


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WATCH: NPO Zero CEO Ashif Mawji says charitable donations will suffer from increased corporate tax

The five men, all of whom have donated to the PC Party in the past five years, say only the PCs have a credible plan, and the NDP are wrong to go after corporations.

“Our margins have been squeezed over the last few months because of the change in the economic conditions and that’s tightened up our bottom line, for sure,” said Cameron. “Adding an increase in our corporate tax, just comes out of our owner’s back pocket and we don’t pay bonuses so less money to the employees … I’m just for the stability right now and what we have now.”

“I risk everything I have because I am a small business and then I have somebody tell me that I should be paying more tax? Why? Why is it me? Why is it the corporation?”

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WATCH: Keller Construction CEO John Cameron answers question on NDP’s plan to increase corporate tax

NDP Leader Rachel Notley reiterated her position that she will increase corporate taxes if elected premier.

 “It’s time for large, profitable corporations and the wealthiest among us to contribute just a little bit more to balance the budget and protect our health care and our education.”

Alberta’s corporate tax currently sits at 10 per cent. The NDP has said it would raise the tax to 12 per cent if elected.

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