READ MORE: Alberta election — How, when, where to vote
The media was invited to join Rachel Notley for a run in her riding of Edmonton-Strathcona Saturday morning.
The NDP addressed the details of the UCP platform in the afternoon, saying the UCP spending freeze is actually a cut in a growing province.
“My number one question is how is [UCP Leader Jason Kenney] going to pay for the $4.5 billion tax giveaway that he wants to give to corporations?” said Sarah Hoffman, NDP candidate for Edmonton-Glenora, on behalf of Notley.
“We’ve always felt that will come at a cost to important public services. Today, he’s talking about a freeze, but even a freeze is a cut because we have, for example, in education 15,000 new students coming to school next year in Alberta and that’s almost enough kids to fill Rogers Place.”
The United Conservative Party unveiled its full election platform and rallied with supporters in Calgary on Saturday.
The UCP is promising to get books out of the red and into a $714 million surplus by 2023 — a year earlier than the NDP.
“It’s completely misleading to say a freeze is a cut,” UCP Leader Jason Kenney said at a news conference after the announcement.
Kenney said he’ll be able to save $5.7 billion by cutting so-called wasteful items like the plan to buy rail cars for shipping crude.
“What we are doing here is taking low-priority and wasteful spending, reducing that and re-targeting it to high-priority spending,” Kenney said.
He figures they’ll be able to hit their target by moving Alberta closer to the provincial average in program spending per capita over four years as part of “a rigorous evaluation of all programs and services.”
“Let’s be clear, we’re not talking about cutting spending,” Kenney said. “This is a very mainstream, balanced approach to gradually getting to balance without any absolute reductions in spending, but we will only get there if we grow the economy.”
The UCP said it is focusing on the economy and job creation, but warns it will take time to dig out from under the multi-billion-dollar deficits run up over the last four years, which it blames on Rachel Notley’s NDP.
The UCP expects that revenues from oil and gas royalties will be lower than projected by the NDP. But the party claims that by keeping spending hikes to about 0.3 per cent per year, coupled with job-creation incentives such as slashing the corporate tax, it can balance the budget before the end of its first term in government.
The party also laid out its climate change plan, part of which includes scrapping the NDP pledge to phase out coal-powered plants by 2030. The UCP also intends to get rid of subsidies for renewable energy projects, instead encouraging “market-based green energy.”
Kenney also released more details on his previously announced commitment to end the carbon tax and replace it with a program targeting large emitters of greenhouse gases (GHG). Under the plan, facilities with emissions higher than 100,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide will have to reduce the intensity of those emissions or buy credits or offsets, or pay into a fund that will study ways to reduce GHG emissions.
WATCH: The United Conservative Party unveiled its election platform at a rally in Calgary on Saturday. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, the plan includes a balanced budget by 2023.
Stephen Mandel chose a scenic spot on the edge of the North Saskatchewan River in Edmonton to announce that, if elected, the Alberta Party will eliminate the provincial carbon tax.
Mandel said the Alberta Party is in favour of a heavy-emitters tax which is currently in place. The party would also support a credit system whereby small and medium-sized businesses that upgrade their equipment could sell their credits to larger emitters.
“The heavy emitters are the ones we have to look at and control their emissions,” Mandel said. “The Alberta Party will be eliminating the carbon tax, which is punitive, unfair and unreasonable to Albertans and unbelievably unpopular.”
“Over the past few years there’s been a tremendous discussion and frustration with the carbon tax,” Mandel said. “The NDP imposed [this] upon Albertans, which has really not done the kinds of things it should do. It’s been a slush fund; it’s been a thing that has really hurt small business, families travelling, heating homes, municipalities [and] not-for-profit organizations.”
“We’re doing this because we think there are better ways to do this and punishing Albertans is not the way,” Mandel added.
The Alberta Party leader also spent the afternoon door-knocking in his riding of Edmonton-McClung. He was also scheduled to attend the Metis Jamboree Dance in Alberta Beach in the evening.
Liberal Leader David Khan had planned to make an announcement on dental care at the party’s headquarters in Calgary-Mountain View, but that was rescheduled for a later date.
– With files from The Canadian Press and Global News’ Carolyn Kury de Castillo
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