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Election Fever

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Brad Field

Election fever is in the air. The provincial parties are jockeying for position in the eyes of the electorate. Slings and arrows are flying in all directions. Whatever else it may be, the upcoming campaign isn’t going to be dull.

The past four-and-a-half years haven’t been kind to Alberta. 2015 was the worst year for job losses in the province since 1982. Job prospects for recent graduates remain bleak. Pipeline projects are stopped dead in their tracks. Investment levels are nowhere near where they once were. There is little doubt that times are tough.

For decades, elections in Alberta seemed like a formality more than a competition. That all changed in 2015 with the election of the NDP. Voters were fed up. They wanted change. The question this election is whether that was the change they were looking for.

In fairness to the NDP, the province’s fortunes can’t be laid entirely at its feet. Oil prices collapsed as they took office, and the federal government has failed to deliver on its lofty promise of balancing environmental protection and economic growth. Time and again, the Liberals have undermined Canada’s critical energy sector with such ill-considered legislation as Bill C-69, which will radically rewrite the rules for reviewing resource projects.

Our province is at a crossroads. For a decade and a half, up until the summer of 2014, we could count on growth. Oil prices were high, exports were up and there was a seemingly endless supply of jobs. Times, as we all know, have changed. We need a provincial government that can build on our strengths while creating the conditions necessary to grow new industries.

The upcoming election could prove to be one of the most important in our lifetimes, so my advice to Calgarians is this: get engaged. Try to meet your candidates, both where you live and where you work, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. They’re running for the privilege of representing you, so it’s only fair you know where they stand on the issues that matter to you, your family and your business.

Also, get informed. Understand the issues at play, and read the parties’ platforms to see the solutions they propose (or see on what issues they’re lacking solutions). There are a number of respected non-partisan, business-friendly sources you can also turn to. The Calgary Chamber, for instance, has released its wish list for the next election. Titled 2019 Alberta Election Platform, the document makes nine specific recommendations under five principles, which it encourages all provincial parties to adopt. I’d highly recommend taking some time to give it a read.

The Chamber’s call to drive productivity through regulatory and tax reform particularly resonated with me. As I’ve said before, we have everything we need to succeed. We have one of the most dynamic, educated, entrepreneurial populations in the world. What we need to do is start removing the impediments (e.g. burdensome taxes and regulations) governments at all levels have thrown in the way. It’s high time that all serious political parties recognize what we as working people already know: when it comes to creating jobs and generating prosperity, business is the solution, not the problem.

It’s our future that’s at play this election, so know your issues and interests, and vote your principles.

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