Mason and Smith square off at RDC

  • Oct. 9, 2013 2:47 p.m.

Wildrose and NDP leaders encouraged attendees of a debate held at the Red Deer College last week to imagine what a post-PC Alberta might look like.

Wildrose party leader, Danielle Smith, and NDP leader Brian Mason visited RDC as part of a post-secondary campus tour throughout the province that included eight other institutions along the way.

Although it will be three years until the next provincial election, this public debate tour aims to raise awareness for the two parties and get them thinking about where they want their province to go in the future.

While it was put on as a debate, the two parties collaborated well to showcase the flaws of the Progressive Conservative party that has been ruling the province for 42 years.

“We’re not trying to push the crowd in one direction or another, what we’re challenging Albertans to think about is what life might look like in the province after the Progressive Conservative dynasty is over,” said Smith.

“By 2016, the PC’s will have been in power for 45 years and after 45 years some bad habits have set in.”

Mason added he wants people to start thinking about “What direction the province wants to take” and that this debate offers “Two directions that the province can take.”

Smith and Mason squared off on a variety of topics including the energy sector, pipelines, the economy, post-secondary education, health care and public services.

The idea for the campus debates tour came after Smith won a debate against Mason at the University of Calgary and it was decided that a rematch in Edmonton was needed.

Mason stated in opening remarks that he and Smith both hope that the campus debate tours would encourage and engage the younger generation to become involved in their province and the politics that will determine the future of the province.

While Mason and Smith tended to disagree on some subjects such as taxation, one thing they could both agree on was that the debate was a great opportunity to show Alberta’s future generation of leaders what the province might look like without the PCs in power. “Our two parties have very different visions for how Alberta should be governed,” Smith said. “But we both share the conviction that this province can be better.”

One of the hotter topics of debate was the future of Alberta’s energy.

The Keystone XL pipeline to the southern U.S., the Northern Gateway pipeline to the British Columbian coastline and the Energy East Pipeline to New Brunswick were all brought up. Both parties agreed that the east and west pipelines were critical to Alberta’s future, but that the Keystone XL pipeline may not be worth the trouble that Premier Alison Redford was having with it.

Mason made it a point to state he believes the Alberta government should be taking on more responsibility when it comes to meeting carbon emission targets, monitoring water conditions in the province as well as the care of water that comes from northern tailing ponds.

Another hot button issue was the current provincial government’s lack of accountability for their spending.

Smith recounted a time in 2005 under Ralph Klein’s leadership when the province had over a $5 billion budget surplus, so much in fact, that residents of the province were given rebates in the form of a prosperity bonus, commonly known as ‘Klein Bucks.’

Smith and Mason both brought forward that revenues from the Klein era were less than they are now, and yet the province is now in debt.

Another issue that was agreed upon by both parties was the closure of Red Deer’s Michener Centre, in which Mason stated the decision by Redford was “Cruel and wrong.”

Mason was agreed to be the winner of the debate by the crowd of more than 100 people, who chose the winner via applause.

jswan@reddeerexpress.com

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