On Day 15 of the Alberta election campaign trail, the leaders promoted the energy industry and talked about health in the Calgary region.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley made an announcement in Calgary, where Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel also talked about oil exports. Liberal Leader David Khan made an announcement regarding mental health and addictions.
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United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney was in southern Alberta, talking about jobs for the energy sector.
UCP Leader Jason Kenney was in Turner Valley, where he said a UCP government in Alberta would reduce wait times on energy projects to try to make them the fastest in North America.
Kenney says approvals for oil wells currently take a year and a half, which he says places Alberta far behind Saskatchewan and U.S. jurisdictions and puts the province at a competitive disadvantage.
He says if his party were elected April 16, he would set up legislated targets to cut wait times and would publish data to update progress.
The goal would be to cut timelines in half and eventually make them the shortest in North America.
Kenney also said his government would guarantee in law that once a well was given a permit, royalties taken from it wouldn’t change for the life of the project.
He said his government would intervene at all National Energy Board hearings that affected Alberta’s oil and gas interests.
The UCP leader said higher business costs under Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, coupled with proposed changes on tanker shipments and federal energy approvals, have undercut an industry looking to dig out from a global drop in oil prices.
“We’re going to restore investor confidence and send a message to all of those companies that have fled the (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau-Notley alliance that we are turning the situation around and we are open for business again,” Kenney said Tuesday.
Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley says it’s short-sighted and irresponsible for her opponent Jason Kenney to perpetually launch broadside attacks on her relationship with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Notley says for Kenney to suggest she is Trudeau’s willing accomplice is nothing more than political grandstanding and game-playing.
She says such divisive rhetoric doesn’t serve broader long-term policy goals, adding that it’s a premier’s job to work with all politicians and all levels of government to get things done.
Kenney has repeatedly raised Trudeau as a provincial election issue, and this week promised to do whatever he could to see Trudeau defeated in the fall federal vote. He says Trudeau’s policies are gutting Alberta’s core oil and gas industry and says Notley has been a willing participant in what he refers to as the “Trudeau-Notley alliance.”
Notley says she has publicly voiced concerns with Trudeau over various issues, but says her working relationship with him helped on the Trans Mountain pipeline project when the feds bought it to keep the project going.
Mandel announced in Calgary how a government led by him would secure a new route to the coast for Alberta products.
The plan would include an Indigenous-led, government supported consortium to secure the right-of-way, permits and approvals for a railway and pipeline corridor between Alberta and Alaska.
The conventional double-tracked railway would connect Fort McMurray with the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System at Delta Junction, where it would take oil to the established tidewater Port of Valdez.
The Alberta Party said it would have a capacity of a million barrels of oil per day, equivalent to the proposed Energy East pipeline expansion.
The party said $10 million would be allocated to bring the consortium together and perform consultations, but the private sector would be responsible for the capital costs of the project. Total construction cost is estimated at $15 billion.
Mandel said the world market wants to buy Alberta resources, making tidewater access essential for the long term growth of the oilsands.
“Trans Mountain, even if it gets built, will only provide a few years of growth,” Mandel said in a statement. “We need to secure greater access for our resources and start that process today.
“We’ve tried going east, west, and south only to find opponents blocking our efforts. It’s time to go north where we have willing partners and the opportunity to achieve a truly nation building project.”
Even if the Trans Mountain and Keystone XL pipelines are constructed, the Alberta Party said the province stands to face capacity issues in the late 2020s, so establishing additional routes to the coast makes sense.
Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan said if elected, he would increase funding for mental health and addictions treatment by 50 per cent.
“We will invest more than $600 million to give Albertans the care they need. We will walk the talk on one of the most important issues facing all Alberta,” Khan said in a statement.
The Liberal plan would see $150 million in new spending immediately and another $450 million over four years.
“We know tens of thousands of Albertans do not have adequate mental health care. This is significantly damaging our economy, creating huge downstream health-care costs, increasing crime and straining our justice system.”
The Liberals would put into action the Valuing Mental Health report chaired by former Liberal leader Dr. David Swann, which the party says would improve and expand access to mental health services.
In terms of addiction treatment, the Liberals would declare the opioid crisis a public health state of emergency, would provide free suboxone (a combination of buprenorphine and naloxone) and addictions counselling and expand the number of supervised consumption sites.
“We will pressure the federal government to decriminalize possession of small amounts of drugs,” Khan said. “It is time to end the stigma. Addicts are not criminals who should be jailed. They are sick people who need treatment.”
Khan is spending the rest of his Tuesday door-knocking in his riding of Calgary-Mountain View, where he is running against NDP Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley, the Alberta Party’s Angela Kokott — a former journalist at Global Calgary and 770 CHQR — and UCP candiate Jeremy Wong, an ordained minister.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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