LEAP Manifesto controversy rattles NDP

This must be one of many stressful weeks for Premier Rachel Notley, who is about to unveil the much anticipated provincial budget Thursday after coming through a contentious week as she fended off the controversial LEAP Manifesto even as the national NDP party agreed to look it over and consider it in a broad fashion.

Notley knows that the manifesto isn’t workable in this province; not even slightly. She has called the material naive, ill-informed and tone deaf – an absolutely correct description of the document.

The manifesto calls for a quick end to the reliance on fossil fuels – a disastrous route to take in a province that is still of course heavily reliant on the oil/gas industry and has seen much in the way of job loss over the last year with the plunging province of oil.

Of course we all know that gradually moving towards a greener way of doing things is preferable. But that will take time – something that those behind the manifesto don’t seem to understand. It’s baffling how some members of the national NDP party honestly think that fiddling around with something like the LEAP Manifesto will help them in a long-term goal of ever achieving power in Canada. The population’s opinion of the party slid drastically in the last election, and former leader Tom Mulcair was ultimately recently ousted as a result of that.

Meanwhile, closer to home, according to Alberta’s opposition parties, Notley didn’t go far enough in her repudiation of the manifesto.

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean said in a release that Notley, “Sold her carbon tax, coal industry shutdown and a cap on oilsands development to Albertans with the promise that it would provide the credibility we need to get opponents of pipelines on board – that these policies would get ‘social license.’

“Today Premier Notley’s social license experiment was put to the test and it failed. She wasn’t able to get her own party’s delegates, in her home city, to drop their opposition to getting Alberta’s resources to market.”

Jean said that Notley, ”Should instead remind everyone that we all need oil and gas development and that no jurisdiction does oil and gas development better than Alberta. Without pipelines Canada and the world will continue to purchase oil from jurisdictions that don’t care about the environment or human rights.”

Alberta Liberal Leader David Swann was also disappointed and disturbed by the NDP’s adoption of the LEAF Manifesto at their national convention in Edmonton.

“The adoption of the LEAP Manifesto provides a clear danger for Albertans,” Swann said. “The provincial NDP, however much Premier Notley tries to say otherwise, are indebted to their Canadian brethren. It is unlikely in the extreme that the current Alberta government will be able to simply ignore the policies of the national NDP organization.”

Among other things, the LEAP Manifesto calls for a total moratorium on pipelines and oil sands development; an end to all trade deals ‘that interfere with our attempts to stop damaging extractive projects’; and an increase in corporate taxes, personal taxes and royalties.

“A progressive reduction in our carbon footprint does not mean elimination of pipelines and fossil fuel production. It means we must develop them with lower emissions, water use and greater benefits for our population,” Swann continued. “One example is tremendous electricity opportunities from oil sands cogeneration which can reduce emissions per barrel below those of conventional oil.”

“The challenges we face demand creative and innovative solutions, not ideological blindness.” Swann concluded.

The LEAP Manifesto is simply not practical – especially in an already fragile economy. Even though it’s the national party that has agreed to examine it, they very well know the state of not only the economy in Alberta but how it affects the nation as a whole. It is hard to imagine what the state of Canada will look if this is implemented. There is already no end in sight as to when the economy will turn around – why are we even entertaining thoughts that will hamper that further – national level or not?

It is time to rethink the LEAP Manifesto.

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