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Panda: Notley's attempt to win social licence for pipelines is a failure

Let’s face it, the NDP’s social licence scheme is a massive failure with far-reaching consequences for everyday Albertans.

Last year, Premier Rachel Notley made a very risky bet with Ottawa. She bet that if she imposed a massive new carbon tax on the Alberta people with no mandate to do so, she’d win so-called social licence from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his government. She lost.

Nearly a year later, we’re certainly worse for wear, while jurisdictions across North America scoop up the jobs and investment we’ve lost, thanks to the NDP’s risky play.

This was a big win for Ottawa on Alberta.

Ottawa is actually collecting GST on the carbon tax we pay (Wildrose warned the NDP about this tax-on-tax last year). Every time you fill up your vehicle or heat your home, you’re sending even more money to Ottawa because the carbon tax is itself taxable.

Ottawa just solidified the tanker ban on the British Columbia coast, which could significantly harm our energy industry, beyond what it has already suffered.

Ottawa continues to collect billions more out of our province through a broken equalization and transfer system than it gives back, even though our province is down on its luck.

And now, to add insult to injury, Ottawa is pondering yanking the National Energy Board out of Calgary and moving it to Ontario, simultaneously insulting our great city, and our world-class energy regulator.

Notley bet it all and lost. She served Alberta up on a platter to Trudeau and his friends. She was badly outplayed by a slick Liberal with nice hair.

The only perceived benefit of this social licence scam has been the approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. Notley touts this accomplishment daily, as it’s one of her sparing achievements.

But that project is now under severe doubt, thanks to the efforts of the B.C. NDP and Greens, who’ve pledged to stop it by any means possible.

Industry hopes for this pipeline are fading fast on the heels of the B.C. election. And members of Notley’s own oilsands advisory group, such as Tzeporah Berman and Karen Mahon, are fundraising and working around the clock to ensure it never gets built.

Wildrose previously warned Notley about trafficking in these risky deals to obtain essential, nation-building projects such as energy pipelines. The facts and necessity of these projects could have compelled them to creation on their own. Now these approvals are stuck in a web of bad political gamesmanship.

The people of Alberta are suffering and Notley and the NDP are still chasing social licence. They don’t understand that real families are suffering, while they chase this fool’s gold.

They laugh in the legislature when we raise concerns about the record 100,000 Albertans on employment insurance, the double-digit unemployment, the 84,000 good, full-time jobs that were lost last year, and the major, international companies that are fleeing our province.

It’s time for the government to drop this notion of social licence and get back to work on attracting investment and creating jobs through common-sense policies.

So long as we’re stuck with this premier, we need her to have our backs, and stop worrying about what her fancy environmental friends or Prime Minister Justin Trudeau think.

Let’s take care of our own families, friends and communities, before we worry about taking care of anybody else’s.

Tax hikes make tough times even harder

NDP policy is hitting Calgarians hard at a time our city can least afford it.

Our unemployment sits at more than eight per cent, the highest in decades. Home values across the city are dropping, and just last month, Alberta shed 40,000 full-time jobs across several industries.

Many Calgarians would agree that now is not the time to make things worse, but that’s just what the latest series of government policies is doing, on the backs of working families right across our city.

It starts around the kitchen table. With the average family seeing their wages go down, or possibly even facing unemployment, they are being forced to squeeze every penny out of their monthly budgets. That could mean pulling a child out of hockey for the next season, cutting out a family trip, or having to downgrade on some of the essentials.

And that’s before taking into account the series of new taxes families are being forced to pay. By January of next year, households will be paying more to heat their homes, drive their cars and pay for groceries because of the NDP’s new carbon tax.

By 2018, the full cost of this tax will take roughly $1,000 out of the typical Alberta household’s budget to pay for over $6 billion in new government spending and expensive corporate welfare projects.

Yes, Alberta should continue to be part of the solution in the effort to reduce global emissions: that’s why Wildrose has long advocated for natural gas and clean air strategies. But the fact is, Alberta is already a world leader in research and innovation in reducing emissions. The NDP government’s approach will only make it more difficult for Alberta to compete on a global stage.

In the private sector, companies perform risk assessments and cost-benefit analyses before any major investments or decisions are made. But Alberta’s new carbon tax bill fails to give Albertans any information on the full economic impact of the carbon tax, or any emissions reduction targets the government plans to achieve by spending the billions in new taxes that will be collected every year.

Under this plan, our local producers will see costs rise, small business owners will have less money for hiring and innovating, and our export sector will be increasingly less able to compete with other jurisdictions, such as Saskatchewan, which do not face the same regulatory burdens Alberta now does. That means fewer jobs for Calgarians at a time we badly need them.

Homeowners and businesses won’t just be feeling the pinch from a new carbon tax; today, Calgarians are seeing a massive jump in their property taxes as a direct result of the NDP government’s 10.2 per cent hike to the provincial share on everyone’s property tax bill.

Premier Rachel Notley will try and pin this excuse on a fixed funding formula based on new government spending, but the fact is, her NDP government had a choice, and they chose to raise the tax bills on families in one of the most difficult economic climates Alberta has faced in decades.

It was the wrong choice, and now city council is wrestling with the difficult decision to reduce services to help compensate for this massive provincial tax grab.

Taken together, these policies are proving a dangerous recipe for families and an economy that many feel is fragile enough already.

The direction our province is heading is the wrong one for Alberta. When families and business are hurting, they shouldn’t be seeing their taxes increase. Policies should be put forward to bring stability back to Alberta’s economy, encourage investment in our province and restore the Alberta Advantage.

These are the policies Albertans are asking for, these are the policies Wildrose has been asking for and it’s time Notley and her NDP government start to listen.