What the parties are offering Alberta this federal election

Alberta has some of the most predictable federal election outcomes in the country. While that may exclude it from driving the policy agenda, the province is at the intersection of the debate around climate and energy policy — and it will be heavily affected by what each party has proposed on that topic. 

The Conservative platform holds the most specifics for the West, like fiscal transfer changes and funding Calgary’s Green Line LRT, while the Liberal and New Democrat plans speak more broadly to themes like energy transition. 

“They’re not offering Alberta anything, but they’ve got a general platform that has differential impacts on Alberta,” Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University, said of the parties. 

Conservatives hold 33 out of 34 seats in Alberta. The NDP sits in the lone outlier in Edmonton.

Here’s a look at some of the policies in the Liberal, Conservative and NDP platforms that have implications for Alberta. 

Liberals

The Liberals are focusing on transitioning Alberta’s energy sector away from non-renewable fuels like oil and gas. The Trudeau government already committed Canada to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.

The party’s platform promises a $2-billion fund for Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland to help diversify those economies and develop clean energy. If re-elected the Liberals would also move forward with their “Just Transition” pledge to help workers in the energy industry and create a Clean Jobs Training Centre.

Zain Velji, a former federal Liberal campaign strategist and host of The Strategists podcast, said while it’s unlikely that strategy will win many seats, it’s an attempt to start a conversation. 

“It’s really a marker of saying, should we win … that we are the party that has some of those strategies and skills for Alberta, that we will not ignore you, that once we get elected, we will not just leave you behind.” 

The Liberal carbon tax would rise to $170 per tonne by 2030, applying to provinces without their own plans. A rebate of 90 per cent is returned to consumers in those provinces. 

Also included in the platform is a promise to eliminate oil and gas subsidies by 2023, two years ahead of the original schedule, and a ban on thermal coal exports by 2030.  A Liberal government would also scrap flow-through shares, a financing and investment tool, for oil, gas and coal projects.

If re-elected, the Liberals are promising to follow through on their pledge to reduce child care fees to $10 a day. 

A Trudeau government would also increase the number of health-care staff in rural areas by offering increased debt relief to doctors and nurses who practice there. 

Further gun control measures would also be implemented, including a mandatory buyback on banned assault weapons, restricting high capacity magazines, and setting aside $1 billion for provinces who choose to implement a handgun ban. 

Here are some other measures in the Liberal platform: 

  • Provide a temporary rebate of up to 75 per cent for tourism businesses through this winter.
  • Develop an agriculture labour strategy to address worker shortages.
  • Increase funding for post-secondary institutions by $240 million over four years, which could include money for the Campus Saint-Jean at the University of Alberta. 
  • Work with the Métis Nation of Alberta on their self-government agreement. 
  • Convene provinces to develop a plan to legislate sick leave nationally.
  • Connect 98 per cent of Canadians to rural broadband by 2026
  • Train 1,000 new firefighters to prepare for future wildfire seasons
  • Develop a hate-crime strategy, including possible amendments to the criminal code.

Click here to read the full Liberal platform

Conservatives

If elected, an Erin O’Toole government would continue support for oil and gas, while working on greener energy projects. They would devote $5 billion over five years to make advances in hydrogen, small modular reactor technology and electric vehicle development. 

They also promise a $5 billion investment and tax credit to accelerate Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) technology. 

The CPC Leader would introduce a personal carbon tax of $20 per tonne, rising to $50 by 2030. The money from the tax will go into a carbon savings account for environmentally friendly purchases like a bike or more efficient furnace. An industry carbon tax of $170 by 2030 would be implemented, but only if the U.S. and Europe match that target. 

“We need pragmatic, environmentally conscious energy policies that ensure the immediate continuity of the sector, while also being very mindful of a transition to a less energy-intensive global landscape,” Katy Merrifield, a VP at Wellington Advocacy and former director of communications for Premier Jason Kenney, said. 

The Conservatives have committed to the original Paris Agreement targets set in 2015 of a 30 per cent emissions reduction below 2005 levels by 2030. The updated Paris targets are set between 40 and 45 per cent.

They would amend Bill C-69 to change the environmental assessment process for major projects using recommendations from a senate committee. The Tories would also end the ban on oil tanker traffic off the north coast of B.C. by repealing the Liberal’s Bill C-48.

A Conservative government is promising to revamp Canada’s fiscal stabilization program, lifting the cap on payments, reducing revenue loss thresholds and apply those changes retroactively to 2015. 

O’Toole tweaked the party’s approach to regulating firearms mid-campaign. A Conservative government would keep the Liberals’ ban on assault weapons and launch a public review of the gun classification system. Originally, the plan was to repeal that bill, C-71.

The Conservatives would work to develop natural resources alongside Indigenous groups by creating the Canada Indigenous Enterprise Corporation, modelled after the Alberta Indigenous Opportunities Corporation. 

O’Toole has also proposed a child care tax credit and would scrap the ongoing Liberal plan. The lowest income families would get a 75 per cent rebate.

The Conservatives have also promised to maintain the federal promise to fund the Green Line of Calgary’s LRT system as long as the project is completed in its entirety and has provincial approval.

Here are some other measures in the Conservative platform: 

  • Complete Canada’s rural broadband network in the next four years.
  • Launch business loans to support entrepreneurs recovering from COVID-19 economic struggles.
  • Implement an agriculture labour strategy.
  • Appoint senators chosen through provincial senate elections, where applicable. 
  • Provide $30 million each year in funding to minority francophone institutions like the University of Alberta’s Campus Saint-Jean. 
  • Invest in early wildfire detection technology.

Click here to read the full Conservative platform

New Democrats

The New Democrats have more aggressive environmental targets, pledging to end federal oil and gas subsidies, redirecting that money to low carbon initiatives. An NDP government would support environmental remediation and job creation, including forcing large companies to clean up inactive wells. They would devote $1 billion to energy worker transition initiatives. 

A Jagmeet Singh government would also aim to power Canada with net-zero electricity by 2030 and exceed current Paris targets with an emissions reduction goal of 50 per cent below 2005 levels by that year. They would keep on the current carbon tax trajectory but say they would look for ways to target large emitters further.

The party also wants to fund research and development of hydrogen fuel cells for trucks, freight, marine and aviation. 

“Voters here need to see that their leaders are thinking about the job crisis and the economic conditions,” Leah Ward, provincial NDP leader Rachel Notley’s former director of communication, now the director of campaigns for Metric Strategies, said. 

“There is an acceptance, an appetite in Alberta for the notion of transition.”

The NDP platform says it would stop health-care privatization and user fees. They would also end for-profit long-term care, bringing those companies under federal ownership. 

They pledge to invest in regional economic development agencies to support job creation in sectors like tourism. An NDP government would also create a tax credit to encourage people to work in rural and northern communities. 

The NDP is also promising $10-a-day child care to create enough spaces to eliminate long waitlists.

Here are some other measures in the NDP platform: 

  • Finish Canada’s rural high-speed internet connectivity in four years.
  • Abolish the senate.
  • Bring in a Canadian Food Strategy to support farmers.
  • Improve access to French-language services outside of Quebec, and attract more french-speaking immigrants across the country. 
  • Introduce paid sick leave.
  • Develop a response plan for climate emergencies like wildfires and floods.
  • Help cities develop hate crime units within police forces.

Click here to read the full NDP platform
 

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