Calgary

Jason Kenney says regulatory approvals will be 'fastest in North America' under UCP

Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney took to a podium Friday in downtown Calgary to attack the economic record of the governing NDP and talk about his plans for the economy if the UCP takes power, but made no new policy announcements.

Alberta UCP leader has been busy announcing policies in the lead-up to an election

United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenney attacked the economic record of the governing NDP in a speech Friday. (Monty Kruger/CBC)

Alberta UCP Leader Jason Kenney took to a podium Friday in downtown Calgary to attack the economic record of the governing NDP and talk about his plans for the economy if the UCP takes power, but made no new policy announcements. 

He laid blame on "job killing policies" for everything from unemployment to wage stagnation to housing sales and a lack of private investment. 

"At the beginning, Albertans gave this [NDP] government the benefit of the doubt," he told a luncheon crowd.

"Gradually, what Albertans saw was a government that made decisions based on ideology rather than common sense."

Blames policies

A particular point of Kenney's ire was the carbon tax. But he also took time to say Alberta is facing too many regulations, particularly as it relates to the oil industry. 

He said the economic woes of the province are due to policies, not situations beyond the government's control like the plunge in the price of oil. 

"It is increasingly clear that business and investors see Alberta as a high-cost, high-regulation place," he said. 

Throughout his presentation, Kenney took government jobs and spending out of the calculations to paint a bleaker picture of the economy based solely on private sector jobs and investment. 

UCP plans

Midway through his speech, Kenney shifted to the UCP's plan for an economic recovery should it take office, but there was no new information to share. 

He reiterated his plan to repeal the carbon tax as the first step, followed by the "open for business act" that would aim to reduce red tape, change policies and legislate faster timelines on regulators' approvals "so they move at the fastest pace in North America."

Kenney said the UCP would end subsidies for "uneconomical forms of power" and would stand up to "those blocking our resources."

He promised to create a war room meant to pump out pro-oil rhetoric and counter the information of protesters.

Kenney also touted his plan to woo more immigrants to Alberta, and said the centrepiece of his plan would be a job creation tax cut on employers "to get Albertans back to work."

The UCP leader promised more details of the plan would be released on Monday. 

New numbers from StatsCan

Kenney's speech comes on the same day new numbers from Statistics Canada show economic growth in Canada has weakened and, according to University of Calgary economist Trevor Tombe, also show labour compensation in Alberta hasn't grown since September 2017.

Earlier this week, Kenney highlighted a portion of a Conference Board of Canada report that predicts Alberta will be the worst province for economic growth in 2019. The same report also forecasts Alberta will lead the country in economic growth in 2020.

The economy is sure to be a central point of debate amongst the parties in the upcoming election, which has to take place on or before May 31.

About the Author

Drew Anderson is a web journalist at CBC Calgary. Like almost every journalist working today, he's won a few awards. He's also a third-generation Calgarian. You can follow him on Twitter @drewpanderson. Contact him in confidence at drew.anderson@cbc.ca.

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