BY RYAN WELLICOME
MLA for Lacombe-Ponoka Ron Orr spoke to a group of community officials and local business community members at a luncheon held by the Lacombe and District Chamber of Commerce last week.
A Wildrose Party member, Orr’s speech attempted to showcase his party’s vision for Alberta in the context of small business.
“Essentially, I just want to share a Wildrose vision for a stronger, business-friendly Alberta,” he said.
Orr focused on small business policies and taxation such as tax reductions for small businesses while also voicing opposition to provincial government policies.
He voiced his party’s belief that a return to a low business tax structure and a robust royalty regime to attract foreign investment is part of the solution for Alberta’s economy.
Speaking to job growth seen in the public sector in the last year and a half, Orr said it is his party’s belief that there is an imbalance. He said that job growth in the private sector is important and must be implemented.
He stated the Wildrose Party is not yet behind the Alberta government’s carbon tax and wishes for careful and extensive study before the tax is implemented.
“In our Jobs Action Plan, we recommend a full economic impact assessment be undertaken before the carbon tax is brought in,” he said.
He said that his party wishes to wait until it is clearly demonstrated that the tax would not cause“more harm than good.
Orr also voiced opposition to the Alberta government’s implemented policy to increase minimum wages, saying it would hurt business growth and would not provide much assistance to low-income families and proposed that there are other policies that could work instead.
A ‘competitive wage schedule’ is what would be better for Alberta businesses, he said.
Orr explained that he believes the current provincial budget is in need of repair and its philosophy requires change.
Orr said his party believes that between the NDP government’s policy on deficit spending and what he said the government claims is the only other option – jobs and services cuts – is a very plausible middle ground.
“It’s our belief that government can be fiscally prudent without massive service cuts,” he said.
He said that prudence can sustain important services and could prevent heavy debt and spikes in interest payments.
“Our recent budget sustainability recommendations outlined exactly how Wildrose would address a difficult financial situation like we face today,” he said.
Orr said the recommendations focus on service sustainability and elimination of ineffective spending.
He said the party believes hiring freezes and attrition would achieve an efficient government that meet Alberta’s needs.
“By prioritizing spending and protecting front-line jobs, a government gives itself the freedom to offer tax cuts and incentives to businesses and families,” Orr said. “We also think a fiscally prudent budgeting philosophy provides a more stable environment for businesses in our province and for those who would like to invest here.”