The Alberta Party hosted their annual general meeting in Red Deer this past weekend at the Radisson Hotel where around 150 members joined to discuss the party’s policies.
Leader Greg Clark, who founded an oil and gas tech company before becoming party leader in 2013, stated in an interview with the Express following the weekend’s event that he felt the energy and optimism at the event were very inspiring.
Provincial political parties are busy preparing for a potential snap election and Clark believes his party is well set in preparing their candidates, stating he believes the unnecessary cost of an early election shows Premier Prentice, “Doesn’t want a fair fight.
“He wants to take advantage of the opposition’s current weak state after having hollowed out the Wildrose by taking on most of their MLAs, and especially with two parties having interim leaders going into this election,” said Clark. “That being said, the Alberta Party is ready and we want to go for quality over quantity when it comes to candidates.
“This means we may not run 87 candidates but the ones we do run will have very strong connections with the people they want to represent, as our goal is to give Albertans a real choice.”
Over the past five years the party has worked to gain an understanding of Albertans’ wants and needs through a project deemed ‘The Big Listen’, he said.
Party members across the province heard from as many Albertans as they could and formed the party’s policies based on what they heard.
“The Alberta Party was founded on the principles of ‘The Big Listen’ and the people we have heard from have shown people really want Alberta to be on a more stable footing,” said Clark. “Essentially they want to see less reliance on unreliable resource revenues to fund core programs and we’ve heard that over and over again.”
Clark added that infrastructure was also a core concern stating that people wish to see a change in the lack of infrastructure accrued over the last 15 years.
“We need to ensure we are building the long-term care facilities, health facilities, and schools that we are going to need for future generations and those are the things Albertans really want,” said Clark. “We’ve also heard people saying over and over again that they want to see a plan from our provincial government and that’s something they really haven’t seen from our current government.”
The party took what it learned during the project and implemented it into ‘The Big Vision’ in which they posed a number of policies based on what they heard including policies which would see Alberta shift towards a more progressive tax and also diversify the economy.
“By moving to a more progressive income tax it would be more fair to lower and middle-class earners while generating significantly higher revenues that could be used to stabilize our roller coaster economy,” he said. “We could use that revenue to make sure we were able to build the care facilities and schools we need and that way when the price of oil did rise again we would be able to put those resource revenues into the Heritage Fund for when we would really need them again so both current and future generations could benefit from our resource wealth.”
Clark added he believes Alberta needs to look past oil and gas as the only driving force behind the economy, adding he would like to see a higher emphasis placed on agriculture.
“We are one of the half a dozen countries in the world which is a significant producer of agriculture for export and if we can find ways of supporting Alberta’s agri-food business, then that is a great way of diversifying our economy,” said Clark.
“It’s something the world will always need and it’s something that Albertans are great at.”
Clark added another viable option for Alberta would be to encourage environmental stewardship within the energy sector.
“By having a lesser impact on our environment from our energy production and proving this is our focus then the world will want to do business with Alberta more so than it already does, and that’s our best option to get access to markets because the world will recognize Alberta is an environmental leader and that by working with us and buying our oil and gas, they are really being part of the solution and not the problem to some of the issues our world is facing like climate change,” he said.
“Now is the time to be bold and for our government to choose to lead and transform Alberta’s economy to get off of the oil and gas roller coaster once and for all. That’s what the Alberta Party is focused on.”