Doug Hart has been named the New Democrat Party (NDP) candidate for the Lacombe-Ponoka constituency.
Members of the NDP constituency association met earlier this month at the Lacombe Memorial Centre and nominated Hart as the candidate for the next provincial election. Hart, who has a background in health care, said he has always been interested in politics and plans to make waves whenever the next election is called. Hart sees a lot of opportunity within the provincial political landscape.
“We’ve turned our attention away from important issues just to balance the budget because of a low oil price,” he said. “The Conservatives have been in power for 44 years. We’ve seen these low oil prices before, we’ve had boom-bust cycles before and they’ve categorically not planned for these predictable down turns in oil prices.”
He stated Alberta appears to have a, “One horse economy,” with approximately 80% of the export dollars coming from the oil and gas sector.
“That’s scary to think that we are an agricultural province and we’ve let oil and gas take over our economy,” he said.
While everyone agrees the economy should be diversified, no one is willing to diversify their business or deviate from their sector, he said. Hart believes in the five principles laid out by the first PC Premier Peter Lougheed, in particular, the principle that indicates to manage resources like an owner. “Norway has followed Lougheed’s principles and they are sitting on almost a trillion dollars in heritage trust fund or savings,” he said. “They are living off the interest of their savings. Had Alberta followed Lougheed, we would be in a lot better state.
“Rather than using those royalties for a rainy day fund or the trust fund, we have been spending them as we earn them, for our health, education and social services.”
Hart said the key is to tap into a more progressive tax base, not by reinstating health care premiums or augmenting gas or other sin taxes.
He added there is an imbalance between rural and urban municipalities, as most rural communities are dealing with aging and dwindling populations.
“In rural communities, what we are seeing is over half of the GDP in our province originates in rural communities — oil, gas, cattle, beef, grain — and it turns into jobs in Edmonton and Calgary,” he said. “We are taking the resources from small communities. We are taking the young people from small communities, then we are closing schools, we are closing seniors centres and we are telling people they have to go to the city to get services now.”
In order for rural communities to continue to be the economic engine of the province, the government must put emphasis on maintaining social structure, he said.
This will be the fourth time Hart has been selected by the NDP party as a candidate.