BY KALISHA MENDONSA
Alberta Party leader Greg Clark regularly meets with his party board in Lacombe to discuss Alberta’s future and to address the most current needs of the province.
According to Clark, the Alberta Party members are looking to also raise the profile of the party and are working hard to make connections throughout the province.
“What matters most is what Albertans think and what Albertans want,” Clark said. “There is no way to figure that out other than to travel the province and talk to Albertans, so we are absolutely working on doing that more.”
Clark said he’s heard concerns from citizens over the direction of Alberta government, along with other major issues such as a lack of economic and employment growth. In the context of jobs and the economy, Clark said one way to get people back to work is to teach them about ways to “pivot their skills” from one job to another.
“Jobs and the economy are the number one issue people bring up,” he said. “There are lots of people who are finding themselves out of work, and have one set of skills and are having a hard time finding a job in their former field – we want to show people how to pivot those skills to new fields.”
To achieve this, Clark said he will host a free career expo in his MLA constituency of Calgary-Elbow.
As well, Clark also touched on the NDP’s carbon tax, saying, “They are going about it all the wrong way.”
He said he theoretically agrees with the concept of a carbon tax but that the current government was not providing an appropriate solution. He recommended that a carbon tax be implemented with personal and corporate tax cuts in order to create incentive for innovation, rather than strict taxation.
“As they say in hockey, we want to skate to where the puck is going to be – not where it is right now. I think there are a lot of ways the Alberta government could help the province skate to where the puck is going to be, which means an emphasis on green technologies, agriculture and agri-business,” Clark said.
“We want to do that without sacrificing oil and gas, so we can still enable the success of that industry. As long as the world needs oil and gas, I believe Alberta should be the supplier of choice.”
He said he is fiercely proud of Alberta’s current oil and gas industry, saying it is already very green, efficient, safe and responsible.
“I would love to hear our Premier say she’s also proud, rather than use words like embarrassed. When she does that, she’s feeding a negative perception of our industry – the wrong perception,” he said.
He added that he believes in a market environment where private sector influences the best technologies and production methods, where leaders in industry, not government, would decide what technologies are best to be used in the oil and gas industry. He said things like carbon-capture, geothermal energy and enhanced oil recovery could all be pieces of the puzzle, but that it was not up to government to decide.
“As for a carbon tax, during this very challenging economic time for Albertans, it’s going to be even more of a challenge to hit Albertans with another tax. I’m in favour of the principle of a revenue-neutral carbon tax, so long as it’s off-set by cuts to personal income tax and business income taxes. That would create an attractive environment in the province of Alberta to innovate.”
The Alberta Party will be hosting a convention in Calgary in November to reach out to the public and share their party’s vision.