It’s a recurring theme that Brian Jean has been hearing about – the state of the Alberta economy and jobs.
The Wildrose Opposition Leader stopped in Falher on Oct. 5 as part of his tour through the Peace Country last week. He was here to talk to residents about their concerns.
“We’ve gotten to every single constituency in Alberta (since last summer),” says Jean. “We’re talking to Albertans, (and listening) to understand what their priorities are, as well as giving our vision on what we see as a better Alberta.”
He held a meeting with a group of people at Bobo’s Restaurant. Among the things he discussed with them were the economy, jobs, interprovincial trade and immigration.
Everybody is concerned about the economy and jobs, he says.
“If you go to Peace River like I was this morning, you will see ‘For Lease’ signs on almost all the buildings in the industrial areas. You will see, in the downtown area, many buildings that are for lease.”
He talked to a group of 40 people there earlier in the day and he says they are concerned about the NDP’s carbon tax.
He doesn’t perceive that this NDP government is supportive of Alberta’s petroleum industry.
“They seem to be interested in attacking our economy. We’ve had federal governments, before, that have been helpful.
“Now we have a provincial government that, I think, for the first time is clearly not in favour of the energy sector in Alberta, and the great jobs and the quality of life that it provides Albertans.”
Jean favours lower taxes and says Alberta has the highest business taxes in western Canada. Lowering those taxes would help to create jobs and opportunities in this province.
He also favours a smaller government and says Alberta’s provincial government is the most expensive in Canada.
“We’re 20 per cent higher in government costs than British Columbia, right next door, and we don’t have the outcomes that they suggest that we do have.”
Jean is critical of Bill 6, commenting that the government didn’t consult with farmers and family farms about implementing it.
Farmers are also concerned about rising energy costs, including ending the use of coal power generating stations, and the government’s carbon tax.
“There are some exemptions available. But remember that everything that farmers use has to come in by truck. There are no exemptions for those products and that’s going to drive the costs up. Some trucking companies have suggested a 25 per cent increase as a result of this carbon tax and everything else that’s been piled on by the NDP.”
On the subject of greenhouse gas emissions and a cleaner environment:
“Let’s find those solutions that (reduce) GHG emissions. Let’s find those solutions that create less pollution. But let’s not just pile money in and say we can justify it on the basis of payments and money. That’s not realistic. We are – and we do – energy production better than anywhere else in the world. We have nothing to apologize for. We are stewards of the environment, as well as stewards of human rights. We own 50 per cent of the free oil in the world here. It belongs to the people and we have nothing to apologize for, in regards to how we produce it. What we have to do is make sure that we our technology and invest properly in research and development of that technology, so that we can export this technology.”
To conclude, Jean says it’s a privilege to lead the Official Opposition party. He will continue to represent the values and priorities of all Albertans, and fight for their rights every day in the legislature and across Alberta.
Watch the full interview with Brian Jean on the Smoky River Express’ Facebook page.