The Alberta provincial election takes place on April 16 – in an atmosphere of economic anxiety, as summarized by “Albertans prepare to elect a government in a climate of deep anxiety” and “No pedal to floor: Experts say no government can bring back Alberta bitumen boom” . And Macleans sums up election coverage in “The most visceral Alberta election campaign in memory” .
Given the radically different policies and futures at stake, the Alberta Federation of Labour has been active in this election campaign, with a “Next Alberta” campaign and an information rich website. Most recently, the AFL commissioned and released a report by Hugh Mackenzie: The Employment Impact of Election Promises: Analysis of budgetary scenarios of UCP and NDP platforms . The report compares the economic and employment impacts over the next four years of the fiscal scenarios implied by the strategy of the Rachel Notley NDP government, as set out in its 2018 Budget, and the election platform of Jason Kenney’s United Conservative Party (UCP), Getting Alberta Back to Work . Mackenzie’s conclusion: “Under the Notley budget plan, 5500 jobs would be lost. Under the Kenny budget plan between 58,000-85,000 jobs would be lost – more than were lost in the recession of 2015-16.”
President of the AFL, Gil McGowan, discusses the report in an Opinion Piece, “How NOT to fix Alberta’s hurting jobs economy” in The Tyee. He states: “The UCP plan, which hollows out government revenue with a large corporate tax cut, requires more than $7 billion in annual program spending to be cut by the fourth year of the UCP’s plan, in order to meet their goal of eliminating the deficit by 2023. The fiscal strategy proposed by Jason Kenney would cut employment in Alberta by nearly 60,000 over a four-year period, with 27,700 job losses in the public sector and 30,600 job losses in the private sector.
The UCP’s stated longer-term objective of reducing Alberta’s per capita public services investment to the level in B.C. would push job losses even higher, to a total of nearly 85,000.
Looking at the likely bottom-line impacts, it is clear that the point of the UCP’s fiscal strategy is not to address the deficit or debt, since the UCP’s stated debt load after four years of $86 billion is not far off from the NDP projection of $95 billion. The big difference between the NDP and the UCP is that the NDP will spend on people, while the UCP will spend on tax breaks for corporations.”
From an environmental perspective, The Narwhal has published thoughtful discussions of the issues at stake in the Alberta election: “Notley vs. Kenney on how to deal with Alberta’s 167,000 inactive and abandoned oil and gas wells” (April 3) and “Eight environmental issues at stake in the Alberta election (that are not pipelines)” (April 11) – including reclamation and oil and gas liabilities, carbon taxes, methane regulation, energy efficiency, and the oilsands emissions cap.
Another substantial discussion comes from the Pembina Institute blog, Climate policy is economic policy: party platforms must address climate action ,which states, “Both parties need to commit to more to protect the current and future interests of Albertans, and prepare the province for a 21st-century economy. ” The Pembina outlined its preferred vision in March, Energy Policy Leadership in Alberta.