Jason Kenney reveals more of UCP platform in speech to party faithful

A United Conservative Party government would legislate timelines to speed up the approval of projects, reform the education system and remove ‘wasteful layers of bureaucracy’ in the public service.

UCP leader gives speech to 500 at a party conference in Edmonton

Jason Kenney addresses a crowd of about 500 UCP members at an event in Edmonton on February 16, 2019. (Scott Neufeld/CBC)

A United Conservative Party government would legislate timelines to speed up the approval of projects, reform the education system and remove "wasteful layers of bureaucracy" in the public service.

In a speech to the party's "election readiness conference" in Edmonton Saturday, UCP Leader Jason Kenney promised to lay out the "most detailed election platform in the province's history" during a campaign that he feels will have the economy as the central issue.

"Tonight, and in the campaign to come, we will begin the fight for a strong and free Alberta, for our prosperity and for our future," he said. 

Kenney told the roughly 500 party members in his 40-minute address that the UCP would expand school choice, return to "tested teaching methods" and end the government's current revamp of the school curriculum, a six-year process that started in 2016. Some of the current curriculum is 30 years old. 

"We will stop the NDP's ideological rewrite of the school curriculum and will consult with parents and experts to develop a modern curriculum that is focused on essential knowledge and skills, not political agendas and failed teaching fads," he said.

He vowed to reform the education system so students can access training in the trades and computers to prepare them for the economy of the future.

Promises detailed election platform

Kenney gave hints about what's to come as the party rolls out its platform in the coming weeks. In addition to legislating project approval timelines, he promised to end "uneconomic subsidies for wind and solar power" and to leave royalties unchanged when wells are approved.

Kenney said if the UCP forms government, the party's first bill will be a repeal of Alberta's carbon tax. Kenney said the UCP will introduce a "practical plan" to control greenhouse gas emissions.

Other top priorities would be a "job creation tax cut," a repeal of the NDP's farm safety act, commonly called Bill 6, and a bill called the Open for Business Act, to cut red tape and policies the party feels are killing jobs.

Kenney also reviewed the UCP's democracy platform released a few days ago, which includes fixed election dates, the possibility to recall  MLAs and a ban on partisan advertising by the government.

He said these measures show that conservatives have learned their lesson when Albertans voted them out of office in 2015 for being too arrogant.

"These commitments to democratic reform are part of our response," he said. "They say that we got that message loud and clear."

Kenney's speech was preceded by a video showing him visiting his hometown of Wilcox, Sask., telling anecdotes and reciting the prose of Canadian writer W.O. Mitchell, who spoke at his high school graduation.

Premier Rachel Notley, Kenney's main opponent in the spring election, has also made folksy videos highlighting her youth growing up on a rural property south of Fairview, Alta.