Welcome everyone. It would be great to hear your views about the Globe and Mail's endorsement and the Alberta election.
Welcome, Mr. Geiger. Let's get started.
The Globe employs Albertans, the Globe is read in Alberta, and the Globe endorses in elections across Canada. If we ignored the Alberta election, I expect we'd be hearing complaints that we don't care about what goes on in Alberta, that we slighted the province. So of course we endorse, just as we did in Ontario, and we do in most provincial elections.
Thanks for your question, Lucy. In fact, newspapers have a long tradition of providing endorsements in elections. We editorialize on all sorts of issues all year long, offering views on government policy, foreign issues, business debates. Why wouldn't we also offer views on which leader and party has the most sensible platform, or is best situated to lead a province or the country? I doubt very much that people read an editorial and religiously follow its recommendation. I think, however, it's one valuable bit of information that voters take into consideration.
Brian Mason is a very good NDP leader. He performed well in the first broadcast debate. His is a welcome voice in the Legislature, as was Ray Martin and Grant Notley. The party has served as a conscience in the province. But it is our view that the NDP are out of step. If you believe the polls, I would suggest most Albertans share that view on a host of issues.
I meant Brian Mason, of course. He was an excellent city councillor in Edmonton.
The Globe editorial board is all for strong oppositions. It helps to hold governments to account. It would be great for Alberta, and political accountability, if it broke with its traditions of near-sweeps, and only tiny opposition pockets. But that's for voters to decide. Whatever the result in the election, hopefully it will mean a stronger legislature with a strong opposition. As for the endorsement of the Redford government, it was a close call. We like some of the Wildrose messaging. We think Danielle Smith is capable. What we found trioubling was her decision to resort to the firewall rhetoric, to fall back on the little Alberta narrative. Alberta is a great, dynamic province. There is so much in can teach people in other parts of Canada. We need more Alberta, as the editorial said. We don't need an Alberta that is parochial. So that was important. We also felt that the PCs had actually taken the trouble to look ahead, to search for ways to build a stronger province. Wildrose, by contrast, is very slight on details. It's platform is not substantial.
Thanks Charlie. Good question. Look, every new party has a few loose cannons. Wildrose has in relative terms come out of nowhere. Its candidates are inexperienced. And clearly, some of them have disturbing views. Danielle Smith should have more strongly rejected the outrageous racial and homophobic statements, but I am certain they do not reflect her views, and I doubt they reflect the views of many Wildrose supporters.
Good question, TD. We support any effort to reform the health care system, to provide timely and necessary services at a more reasonable cost. We support innovation, and the PCs are proposing innovation. We also support the idea of some private delivery of publicly-funded services which Wildrose seems open to. But Wildrose did not have much substance behind the usual wait time guarantee rhetoric. In fact, the party itself is commited to spending more on health care despite criticizing the PCs for spending too much. Nor is telling people they may have to leave the province for health care services really a viable solution.
Hi Rob. Physicians are never keen on losing billable services. These family care facilities will allow nurses and other health care professionals to take on some of the duties that have traditionally been the exclusive preserve of doctors. That is a needed innovation. That can save money. It is not surprising that doctors would be unhappy about it, though.
As you yourself indicate, there is no public debt in Alberta. The Sustainability Fund, or rainy day fund, was there for precisely this reason. The PC government weathered the collapse in commodity prices well, they have a plan to go into surplus, $5 billion surplus in little over a year from now, and they will do that without new taxes or user fee increases. Let's face it, Alberta is the envy of the country, and much of the developed world, for its fiscal situation.
Good point Runningman. I don't think the PCs want to admit to a shift to the centre. In fact they still have a right flank, Ted Morton is still a Progressive Conservative, etc, and the Conservatives are wisely trying to hold on to them. They are a centre-rightish government. They are not Liberals as some claim. Is Peter Lougheed a Liberal? That view is silly. But they did certainly neglect some of the pet causes of the right, and they are now being pubished for that.
Thanks Bruce. You mention Calgary, and yes, Calgary and Edmonton are great cosmopolitan cities, they are diverse, and they both have mayors that reflect that. But people vote differently locally than they do provincially or federally. So, we're not surprised that a leader like Danielle Smith could gain traction in Calgary. There is a desire for change, understandable after four decades, but we ask the question whether the PCs under Redford are not doing more to deliver that change. In terms of policies, Wildrose seems a lot like Klein circa 1997. With a bit of Reform thrown into the mix. If Allan Hunsperger were Wildrose leader and not Smith, the result would be very different, I suspect.
That's all we have time for today. Thanks, everyone, for the great questions, and thanks Mr. Geiger for joining us.