Brian Jean's UCP leadership platform pledges $2.6B in cuts

Former Wildrose leader set his sights on what he called the NDP government's "anti-growth legislation," and said if he became premier he would immediately cancel the carbon tax.

Former Wildrose leader set his sights on what he called the NDP government's 'anti-growth legislation'

Former Wildrose leader Brian Jean announces his platform in the race to be leader of the newly formed United Conservative Party. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Saying he wants to cut taxes and reduce government spending by $2.6 billion, Brian Jean laid out his platform Tuesday for the United Conservative Party leadership race.

Jean set his sights on what he called the NDP government's "anti-growth legislation."

If he became premier, the former Wildrose leader said he would "immediately cancel the NDP government's carbon tax."

Jean said he would balance the budget in three years and save $2.6 billion by reducing the size of the government. This would be done through early retirements and attrition, reducing the number of managers and negotiating union contracts that are more "affordable."

"Controlling all costs across the public sector so we can freeze and reduce spending," he said at the press conference in Calgary. "This includes thinning out the ranks of managers managing managers managing more managers."

Jean didn't give details on what departments and services would be affected.

He also pledged to reduce taxes for families and businesses. This includes reducing business taxes from 12 to 10 per cent, and the small business tax from two to one per cent.

He said this would create jobs and, coupled with other policies, lead to $3,300 in tax savings for the average Alberta family.

Jean said the province has become economically weaker since the NDP came to power two years ago.

"The record speaks for itself, over 60,000 jobs in the private sector have actually vanished," he said. "Families across the province are hurting."

Jean announced he was running for leader of the upstart party on Monday, the same day he resigned as leader of the Wildrose.

On Tuesday, the UCP was formally recognized as the official opposition in Alberta by the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly.

Jean described the current provincial budget as being "in shambles."

"Alberta is actually on track to hit well over $70 billion in debt by 2019, that's with $2 billion in annual interest payments," he said.

"Albertans deserve a better future, a plan and leadership that fights for them, not fights against them."

Another goal, said Jean, is "building a new Alberta advantage."

"We were once a beacon of hope and prosperity to not just Canada but the entire world," he said. "We can recapture that spirit and create something new and beautiful for the 21st century and secure our economic future."

Nathan Cooper has been chosen as the interim leader until the party's members decide on a new leader on Oct. 28.

Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer earlier announced his intention to run for leader of the UCP. 

Jason Kenney, who led the PCs into the merger, is scheduled to be in Calgary for a "special event" on Saturday, when he is widely expected to announce his intention to run for leader of the UCP.

MLA Derek Fildebrandt is also considering a leadership run and has formed a committee but not made a formal announcement.