PC leadership hopefuls vague on policy, critics say

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidates are being criticized for not dealing with basic issues in the campaign to be the province's next premier.

Groups say they are concerned with the priorities of all three leadership candidates

Alberta Tory party members are to vote for a new leader — either Jim Prentice (left), Thomas Lukaszuk (centre) or Ric McIver — on Saturday. (CBC)

Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidates are being criticized for not dealing with basic issues in the campaign to be the province's next premier.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business says the candidates gave vague answers to some survey questions submitted on behalf of entrepreneurs.

The group says Jim Prentice would not say how he would control government spending, Thomas Lukaszuk's answers on cutting red tape were thin and Rick McIver wasn't clear about how he would treat big cities.

"It's disappointing to see how vague their answers are in terms of outlining a strong vision for the future of entrepreneurship in our province," federation policy analyst Amber Ruddy said Thursday.

The Canadian Cancer Society said Prentice and McIver failed to respond to questions about whether they would ban people under 18 from using indoor tanning beds — equipment linked to a rise in deadly melanoma cases. Alberta is one of only a few provinces that does not have such a ban.

The society also wants a commitment that Alberta's new leader will quickly proclaim a law passed last December that would ban flavoured tobacco. The cancer society estimates that more than 26,000 Alberta children use flavoured tobacco products.

Evie Eshpeter, a policy analyst with the Canadian Cancer Society, noted that the Tory cabinet could have proclaimed the law at a meeting Wednesday, but didn't. She said now all the society can do is wait to see who wins the leadership and try to set up a meeting with the new premier.

"We are very concerned," Eshpeter said from Calgary. "With new leadership comes new priorities. This could all change once a new premier is elected."

She said once the leadership question is settled the society hopes the government will focus on substantive issues, such as health care.

"We are hoping that the issues will come back to running this province."

Earlier this week Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he was disappointed at the candidates' plans for major cities, calling their positions "insipid."

Alberta Tory party members are to vote for a new leader Saturday.


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