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Harper takes aim at Alberta’s NDP government

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, left, greets Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a handshake in Calgary, Alta., on Monday, July 6, 2015.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, left, greets Prime Minister Stephen Harper with a handshake in Calgary, Alta., on Monday, July 6, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

EDMONTON – During a campaign stop in Laval, Quebec, federal conservative leader Stephen Harper slammed Alberta’s new government.

Answering a question on Monday, Harper criticized Rachel Notley’s NDP for delaying the budget and raising taxes.

“We have an experiment like this going on in Alberta right now,” he said in French.

“The government of Alberta, the new NDP government, their first move – they can’t present a budget, they’re increasing taxes.

His comments were made on the first day of a 78-day election campaign.

One poll, released at the end of May, found most Albertans approved of Premier Notley, but another poll, done in early June, found support for the NDP was slipping.

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READ MORE: Alberta NDP introduces bill to hike taxes on corporations, wealthy 

Notley delayed the release of a provincial budget until October. In June, the government introduced a bill to increase the corporate tax rate and boost taxes on anyone making more than $125,000 a year.

Notley wasted no time firing back, and released the following statement on Monday:

“In replacing the previous Conservative government’s regressive waiting room tax with a progressive income tax the Alberta NDP government reduced the tax burden on 90 per cent of Albertans.

“At the same time, asking wealthy Albertans and profitable corporations to pay just a little bit more means that those who benefitted the most during high oil prices contribute their fair share to addressing the fiscal shortfall created by years of Conservative mismanagement and the drop in oil prices.

“Protecting the jobs and incomes of regular working families rather than that of wealthy Conservative friends and insiders is the best way to put our province on the path to economic recovery.”

Alberta’s finance minister was asked about Harper’s comments at an event in Calgary on Tuesday.

“I’ve done my election,” said Joe Ceci. “I’m here now. We’re governing and Albertans seem to like what we’re doing.”

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“I’ll leave comments like Mr. Harper’s to the election campaign trail for people like that, and just continue doing the job that needs to be done.”

Meanwhile, Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said the NDP’s performance since taking office is “deeply concerning.”

“What Albertans need now is certainty, and the NDP are giving anything but,” he said. “Families, small businesses, and our province’s oil and gas sector are all getting a harsh awakening to NDP economics at the worst possible time.

“From going on a debt stampede, tripling the carbon levy, reopening royalty reviews and climate change policy to hiking personal and corporate taxes, the NDP are not standing up for Albertans,” said Jean.

In response, Ceci issued the following statement:

“These claims are ridiculous. Alberta is facing a challenge to manage the drop in oil prices because of bad decisions made by previous Conservative governments.  The Conservatives failed to diversify the economy, ensure profitable companies and the wealthiest Albertans were paying their fair share, and save for a rainy day through the Heritage Fund.  

“Albertans aren’t buying these policies anymore – from the former Conservative government or from the Wildrose.  It will take time to reverse the damage that has been done, but we have begun taking steps to help rebuild our economy.  In the meantime, Mr. Jean is welcome to submit his budget ideas to the government at budget.alberta.ca .”

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