Alberta Premier Notley attacks UCP over economy, gay kids and fundraising

By , on September 24, 2017


FILE: Premier Rachel Notley. (Photo: Rachel Notley Facebook)
FILE: Premier Rachel Notley. (Photo: Rachel Notley Facebook)

EDMONTON — Premier Rachel Notley says the opposition United Conservatives are determined to inflict their past mistakes on Alberta, wreaking havoc on working families and inflicting pain on gay children.

Notley made the comments in a fiery campaign-style speech to party faithful Saturday at a meeting of the Alberta NDP provincial council.

“Our friends in the UCP believe the answer is to go back to the same failed policies that left us the mess that we are currently trying to clean up,” said Notley.

“But now they want those failed policies supersized — bigger tax breaks for their friends, paid for by even bigger cuts to the services every family relies on.”

Notley focused on UCP leadership candidates Brian Jean and Jason Kenney, who are calling for reduced public spending to prevent crushing debt payments they say could jeopardize future prosperity.

“Brian Jean and Jason Kenney won’t tell you where their cuts will come from. They talk about pain and austerity, but it’s not pain and austerity for them. It’s pain and austerity for you,” said Notley.

Notley also criticized Kenney’s position that parents should be told when their children join a gay-straight alliance at school.

The alliances, known as GSAs, are designed as clubs to foster understanding, to help gay kids feel less isolated and to reduce bullying and harassment.

Kenney says parents should be notified if their children join a GSA as long as it doesn’t put a child in harm’s way, but has not offered suggestions on how school officials could determine ahead of time whether parents would react positively or not.

GSA advocates say students would lose control of a critical decision on an emotionally charged issue and could risk of family ostracism or worse.

Notley agreed.

“This time they don’t want to just block GSAs from being formed in schools, they want to out the kids that join them,” said Notley.

“That’s just not supersized. It’s super-cruel, it’s super-extreme and it’s super backwards.”

The United Conservatives were formed in July when members of Kenney’s Progressive Conservatives and Jean’s Wildrose Party voted to merge.

Four candidates are running to be leader, with the vote set for Oct. 28.

Notley also took aim at Kenney for failing to follow through on his promise during the Progressive Conservative leadership race to release the names of donors.

Kenney raised and spent $1.5 million during the party race, dwarfing his competitors. His Unite Alberta organization, which operated before the race began, raised $508,000.

Kenney’s team promised to release the names of the Unite Alberta donors, but later reneged on naming some of the larger contributors, citing privacy concerns.

“I’m not going to let Jason Kenney refuse to disclose to Albertans where his campaign funds are coming from,” said Notley.

“It’s pretty clear that Jason Kenney either doesn’t agree with the fundamental values of honesty and transparency or he’s simply scared to tell the truth.”

Notley’s government has banned corporate and union donations to political parties and limited personal donations to a maximum $4,000 per year.

Kenney’s spokesperson responded to Notley’s speech in a statement.

“It’s quite apparent who the NDP is most concerned about running against in 2019,” wrote Annie Dormuth.

“These hysterical NDP attacks are getting sillier by the day. Albertans are smart enough to see how desperate the NDP is to deflect from their disastrous economic record.

“The premier should spend more time standing up to Trudeau than hurling insults at us.”

Notley, in her speech, also poked fun at former UCP finance critic Derek Fildebrandt.

Fildebrandt, known as a crusty, take-no-prisoners defender of the public purse, resigned from caucus in August after it was learned he was double-dipping some meals and renting out his taxpayer-funded condo in Edmonton, listing it on Airbnb.

Notley joked that she was a little flustered earlier in the day because she had some friends in town and wanted to rent out Fildebrandt’s Airbnb, only to find it has vanished off the internet.

“Seemed like a really cute little downtown condo,” said Notley.

“I went back to book it and it was gone,” she said to laughter.