Hey, Alberta: What would you ask Justin Trudeau?

Amidst the backdrop of plummeting oil prices and economic uncertainty, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will visit Alberta this week.

With the prime minister set to visit the province this week, people weigh in with their questions

Albertans are hoping Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will address their concerns when he comes to Alberta this week. Those concerns include plunging oil prices and massive job cuts in the oilpatch. (CBC)

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will meet with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley this week, and no doubt much of the talk will be about plummeting oil prices and economic uncertainty.

With thousands of oilpatch workers now unemployed across the province, the visit has many Albertans hoping the Trudeau government will be able to directly address major concerns here.

Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, wants the prime minister to address the needs of newly unemployed Albertans struggling to make ends meet. (CBC)

"I think the key thing they can do is make sure the employment insurance system is working for unemployed people, and unfortunately right now that's not the case," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

McGowan said he'd like to ask Trudeau what can be done to help newly unemployed Albertans make ends meet and transition to new jobs.

"Only about 36 per cent of Alberta's unemployed people are eligible for benefits under the program, and even those who do qualify are seeing modest cheques coming from employment insurance."

He said people in Alberta have to work longer to become eligible for EI and are entitled to benefits for shorter periods of time, largely because the program is based on a labour market from a year ago, rather than the current one.

Drilling for answers

Dan Hoffarth, the CEO of Citadel Drilling, said he's not optimistic Trudeau's visit will change anything for his industry.

The company, which has a head office in Calgary and an operations centre in Nisku, just outside Edmonton, builds and operates drilling rigs.

Dan Hoffarth, CEO of Citadel Drilling, is not optimistic about the prime minister's visit to Alberta, saying it likely won't change anything for the drilling industry. (CBC)

"On the global stage, he's not making any indications he supports our business," Hoffarth said. 
With oil hovering around $30 US a barrel, it's been tough for local companies like Citadel to make any profit and retain staff.

While Trudeau can't control the price of oil, Hoffarth said there is one key question he'd like the prime minister to address.

"We're faced with the question — do you support the concept of pipelines east and west in Canada? Just the point-blank question: do you or do you not support that concept, and if not, why not?"

He said many in the oil and gas industry just want more clarity from the PM.

"We have a very difficult time making capital decisions or even raising equity for our businesses when we have such uncertainty."

What the doctor ordered

Following a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, physician-assisted death (PAD) may soon be legal across the country. 

In a statement to CBC News, Dr. Carl Nohr, president of the Alberta Medical Association, said he'd like to ask Trudeau whether any proposed legislation to deal with the issue will reconcile the rights of both patients and physicians under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Dr. Carl Nohr, president of the Alberta Medical Association, said he'd like to ask the prime minister whether any proposed legislation will reconcile the Charter rights of both patients and physicians. (CBC)

He said the government needs to make sure doctors are not forced to participate against their will.

Dr. Nohr also wants to know if the legislation will clarify who exactly will be eligible for PAD.

On the Street

People in Edmonton have a variety of questions they would ask Trudeau, if given the chance.

"What's happening in Syria is very serious," said Sara Doran. "So, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, when are you planning to pull out of airstrikes and also what are you planning on doing as far as peacekeeping goes in that area?"

Genevieve St-Pierre is director for the Francophone Arts Centre.  "What's his plans for the arts?" she asked. "What's the deal with that here in Alberta?"

"I'd like to know what the PM plans to do to help the Canadian economy by putting the Energy East Project through," said Wyan Shankaruk. "I think it's something he could really put a stamp on his new reign as prime minister." 

"I would ask him how are we working with refugees in a way to make sure their experience here in Canada is going to be a positive one, considering a lot of these people are leaving their homeland," said Jim Smibert. "Would we have been further ahead working in the military end to make Syria safer for them to be able to stay in, rather than having them uprooted and coming here to Canada?" 

For Melissa Laverty  it's all about improving how children learn about gender equality.

"My question is, would he change anything about the way gender roles and attitudes towards women is taught in schools?"

Trudeau will meet with premier Notley in Edmonton on Wednesday.

The two plan to focus their discussion on jobs and the economy, as well as climate change and market access for Alberta's energy products.


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