Edmonton, Alberta... home to the Premier of the Province, burial ground for the broken dreams and shattered hopes of 7 men who tried, and failed, to ascend to the throne of this Petro-Fuelled Paradise.
But, what light through yonder window breaks? It's a collection of policies from the defeated leadership contenders.
Now, I want to start off by saying this up-front: If all of these policies get introduced, it will be a NIGHTMARE for the Alberta economy. Not even WE can afford all of this. But these are the best policies that I saw come to light in the PC Leadership race. The best thing about this situation, is that UNlike a General Election, where you're accused by the Opposition of "Stealing our ideas!", all of the candidates were PC Party members, and all of these policies are PC Party policy ideas, though many of them have yet to be ratified by a policy convention. If even a FEW of these ideas get picked up and used by Premier Stelmach, Alberta will be a better place in which to live, both for our generation and the ones that follow.
Now, Ed can justifiably claim to have won a mandate from the party to move forward with his own ideas. I've purposely avoided listing them here, because this is the best of the LOSING candidates. But these are GOOD ideas, that will move Alberta forward and, as a bonus, make the PC Party quite electable in the future.
I've broken the policy ideas down into categories, and the ideas will be presented by category. I've also tried to give credit where credit is due, so the leadership contender who brought the idea forward is referenced after each point. I'm quite aware that several of these policies were brought forth by several candidates, and in those cases, I credited the first one I noticed who presented the policy.
If you've already forgotten who the candidates were, here's a quick legend:
JD - Jim Dinning
TM - Ted Morton
VD - Victor Doerksen
LO - Lyle Oberg
DH - Dave Hancock
MN - Mark Norris
GM - Gary McPherson
- Make provisions in the current Alberta Health-Care system to include chiropractic care, physiotherapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine and other alternatives to promote and maintain good health. – GM
- To help free up the backlog to see doctors, let minor cases and complaints be seen and treated by Nurse Practitioners. - GM
- Eliminate health care premiums – VD
- Create a Health innovation fund, with which to pursue new technologies to streamline the diagnosis of illness and injury, the treatments, and the promotion of good health. - VD
- Offer tax incentives for healthy choices (gym memberships, etc.) – DH
- Institute a province-wide smoking ban in all public places. - DH
- Locate medi-centres near major emergency wards so that people can get the right service at the right place without long waits. This would better utilize the highly trained staff in the emergency wards to deal with genuine emergencies. – MN
- Offer optional programs in areas such as money, credit, invention creation, investing, and entrepreneurism, to supplement the current embarrassingly slim amount of territory covered by the current mandatory “Career And Life Management” course at High School. - GM
- Add 60,000 Post-Secondary spaces. – JD
- Assume full control over Student Loans in
. Lessen the Interest Rate (to Prime), and reduce the expected Parental Contribution. Loans will also take into account not just tuition, but the other costs associated with post-secondary, such as the real costs of books, living expenses in the major centres, etc. - JD Alberta
- Use the Internet to provide further post-secondary learning, adding to the successes of on-line training available through
, and the Athabasca University (which has campuses everywhere in Universityof Phoenix North Americabut ). – MN Phoenix
- Make the final year of post-secondary tuition free for high achievers. – MN
FINANCE and TAXATION:
to become a Alberta , with the province paying the appropriate amount to GST Free Province each year, but Ottawa consumers not paying the tax on their purchases. – GM Alberta
- Extend tax relief to those caring for older relatives. - VD
- Create a $25 Billion Health Trust while we have the money to do so, to cover any unexpected costs that may come up relating to our Health system while the province is not nearly as well-off as we are currently. Protect that fund with legislation, making it illegal for any government to draw on the Trust so long as Alberta’s Budget Surplus remains over, say, $5 Million. – VD
- Pass a "Fiscal Sustainability Act", to ensure that today’s wealth is not completely spent, leaving nothing for lean years ahead. – JD
- Expand the Alberta Family Tax credit. – JD
- Raise the so-called "sin taxes" (cigarettes, alcohol, and tobacco). – DH
- Create an Alberta Pension Plan, supplementing the CPP - TM
- Review pricing structure for water, to promote conservation – smaller users, like residences, should pay less per litre than large users, such as the oilpatch. – GM
- Review current forestry practices, to ensure that large-scale, commercial logging is appropriate and sustainable in the areas in which it is currently being performed, without a negative impact to tourism (logging currently happens inside Kananaskis Country, for example). – GM
- Prepare Integrated Watershed/Land Use policies. – VD
- Institute a province-wide Blue Box recycling program. - VD
- Follow the recommendations of the Water For Life strategy – JD
DEMOCRATIC and PARTY REFORM:
- Regional policy conferences, to promote greater attendance and input from Party members – VD
- Utilize computers & the internet for reviewing and voting on Party policy – VD
- Leader of the Party and the Party president to do annual tours through the whole province, not only speaking but hopefully also LISTENING. – JD
- Hold longer sessions of the Legislature. – JD
- Fixed election dates - DH
- Set term limits for Premiers – TM
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT and INFRASTRUCTURE:
- Ensure that the "last mile" of the Alberta Supernet is finished. – JD
- Double the funding for the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. – JD
- Stop STUDYING the High-speed rail link between
and Calgary (for the 30th time), and start BUILDING it – as a P3. – DH Edmonton
- Fast-track the ring roads in
and Edmonton – the current backlog on the projects is a running joke, and nobody in Calgary has ANY realistic hope of seeing the ring-road completed in the next 50 years – LO Calgary
PARKS and RECREATION:
- Invest $25 Million to allow children of lower-income families to participate in organized sports – VD
- Increase penalties for drunk driving. - DH
Now, not to say that these are the only things that need to happen in Alberta in the near future - far from it. But, they're the best ideas that were brought forward during the PC Leadership Race. And by "the best", I mean the most likely to a) make Alberta a better place for all of its residents, present and future, and b) get the PC Party re-elected, to lead Alberta and implement these policies. The other parties can have their "best policies" list. THIS is the one for the PC's, and they'd be well-advised to consider some of them - they were conceived by some of the brightest strategists and advisors in the party.
Curious as to why you think being GST-free would (a) be a good idea, and (b) be a PC-party type of idea.
Although like most people I personally complain about paying any taxes, I do think consumption taxes are better than income taxes. Simply put, the rich spend more, so they pay more tax. And unlike income tax, which can be avoided if you have your own personal accountant, GST is hard to avoid paying since it is collected at the cashier's till, not at the end of the year. I would like to see perhaps an extension of the GST-free items (i.e. groceries already GST-free), so as not to overburden people of low income buying necessities. But I think consumption taxes are more equitable in reality, if not in theory.
In answer to a), the elimination of the GST would, in my mind, stimulate the Albertan economy by encouraging purchasing, both by residents and by visitors. Answering b), despite the fact that the Mulroney government imposed the tax in the first place, unneccessary taxation, especially in a vibrant economy like Alberta's, is an affront to small-c conservative thinking.
I agree that income tax reduction would be the superior idea, but as no one brought it up during the campaign, it's not a featured policy in this post.
The 60,000 spaces for post-secondary education idea wasn't Jim's idea, although he certainly championed it. I can't remember if it was Ralph's idea or Dave Hancock's (when he was Minister of Advanced Education), but the government actually pledged to add 60,000 spaces in Feb 2005, just after the Klein government lost 3 Calgary seats b/c of their lack of commitment to post-secondary education.
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