Alberta policy experts want campaign rhetoric to end with the campaign

Panelists hosted by the School of Public Policy says it's time to move forward and create certainty for communities and for business in the province.

From community planning to investment certainty, panelists say it's time to move forward with clarity

Calgary Chamber of Commerce CEO Sandip Lalli looks on as Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations CEO David Mitchell speaks at a panel discussion on Thursday. (Colleen Underwood/CBC)

Some policy experts hope the United Conservative Party gets out of campaign mode as soon as possible.

David Mitchell, the president and CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Voluntary Organizations, says he's worried the province is in a permanent campaign period. 

"The risk is that if we're quarrelling, we're fighting, we're having war rooms … how are we going to have productive constructive public policy addressing the needs of Calgary, addressing the needs of Alberta," he said after speaking on a panel hosted by the Calgary School of Public Policy. 

Mitchel hopes to see less rhetoric in the days ahead and for the UCP to formulate concrete long-term plans that add a level of certainty so communities can plan for the future. 

He says there are concerns that freezing budgets for education, health care and other programs while the population increases and ages, will cause "pressure."

Investment certainty

The sentiment of stability, at least in terms of investment certainty, is shared by Calgary Chamber of Commerce CEO Sandip Lalli, who was also on the panel. 

"The investment community has already told us that until you get your house in order, we're going to other jurisdictions," she said. 

Lallie says she's confident the tone will shift now that the campaign is over and the government-in-waiting turns its attention to the task of governing. 

"I do know that moving policy and negotiation forward is going to require dialogue and I think that we'll get that populist piece out of this conversation."

Reduced rhetoric?

A third panelist, Martha Hall Findlay, the CEO of the Canada West Foundation, is also hopeful the rhetoric will subside and points  to Jason Kenney's victory speech comments directed at Quebec as evidence of the shift. 

"There's always a time for making sure that people know you're serious," she says of heated words about standing up for Alberta. 

"It's when you get into a blame game, or I have to say, I'm not happy about the war room kind of talk, but again, campaign. Let's see now, going forward, the opportunities for collaboration."

National issues

Findlay says it's important for Canada to get its house in order and that provincial leaders should come together to drive that collaboration. 

She says she hasn't heard from any industries that say the country's environmental regulations are too strict. Echoing her fellow panelists, she said the issue is one of certainty. 

"My point was that it's not Alberta. The problem is the country as a whole in not making clear that we can get things built, in not doing what we need to do to get things built."

With files from Colleen Underwood


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