Hang on, isn’t that the party in power now?
Not even a year after crushing into the legislature, the Alberta NDP Government is presenting itself as the new government.
But it isn’t. They are just as pleased with the idea of pork-barrelling as the PC party was. They are just as pleased with using the government purse to advance their own self-interest as the PC party was.
It would be a different story, I’m sure, had that advertisement for the NDP Caucus been placed in a publication that distributes to one of their ridings.
But it wasn’t. It was printed in High River’s publication. Wayne Anderson, a Wildrose MLA, is our representative here.
This isn’t the first pork-barrelling experience we’ve enjoyed with this new government. It started on day 1. Premier Notley’s swearing-in was coupled with invitations to the non-partisan government-funded event asking for donations to the very partisan NDP. Later in November of 2015, access to Notley was once again sold at a Calgary fundraiser, and again a similar attempt at the Alberta Art Gallery in Edmonton in February of 2016. The NDP were cleared of wrong-doing with regards to a $10,000/ticket Ontario event featuring the Alberta Premier, although they dismissed Ethics Commissioner Marguerite Trussler’s assertion of a “perception that only a chosen few are being invited”.
Sounds awfully close to an “aura of power” assertion that happened a mere 18 months ago.
We haven’t even discussed the partisan appointments the NDP have given their friends. An NDP Government should be expected to hire NDP party faithful to help them implement their policy and ideals. This has happened on numerous occasions, with Brian Topp, Anne McGrath and John Heaney as examples. However, Albertans are right to wonder if these really are the best people for the job, especially when these individuals would top a sunshine list with significant 6-figure salaries and potential severances when they are done. The NDP should not be surprised when the eyebrows of many Albertans rise with the hiring of a Kevin Davediuk, a top union official, to negotiate with the union he is leaving. A pro-union political party making pro-union hiring choices? We should not be shocked.
Except that the NDP said they wouldn’t do that.
The NDP have also had far too much leeway with not understanding parliamentary rules. One such rule is that Caucus funds are government funds from the taxpayer. They are not to be used for partisan purposes. And yet here we see a purely partisan NDP Caucus advertisement in a non-NDP riding.
See the similarity? Advertisements for partisan purposes should rightly annoy Albertans, we just voted the PCs out for the exact same thing. What’s worse, no more are the NDP “fighting for mortgage-paying jobs” than the PCs were building schools as their signs suggested. Over 100,000 jobs are gone, and the only news that Economic Diversification Minister Deron Bilous has produced on the economic file is a bill that, as Alberta Party Leader Greg Clark suggests, does little more than “create committees”.
As a member of the Alberta Party, this pisses me off. Albertans were right to be upset at the PCs. But now a new breed of politician in the NDP is doing the exact same thing. Albertans should not be faulted for thinking “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me”.
What that means, though, is that no politician is trustworthy. And no matter how hard I try to say the Alberta Party is different, because we are, I cannot prove it to you unless you give us a chance.
If Mr. Anderson were to place such an ad, I would not be opposed to it as his form of connecting with his constituents. Although, I would never support Mr. Anderson making such a blanket claim as “fighting for mortgage-paying jobs”. His party’s jobs-creation recommendations were either borrowed from the Alberta Party, or has nebulous goals that can never be reached.
As an example, Wildrose Recommendation 2 is to reduce red tape by 20%. By what metric does one measure red tape? Inches?
If the Wildrose is going to do nothing but parrot the Alberta Party’s plans, they should at least be honest about it and just put up a link to the Alberta Party website.
A jobs plan encourages businesses to create jobs. An Investor Tax Credit will do much more than a jobs-creation tax credit. A small business tax decrease will do much the same, as will investment in post-secondary education and research and development, or as the Wildrose calls it, “Knowledge Infrastructure”. This is how the Alberta Party has been fighting constructively for mortgage-paying jobs.
The false advertisements come at a price. The price is Albertans’ trust in politicians.
Check out the Alberta Party’s events for a chance to meet Alberta Party people near you. In Highwood, the next event is March 21 at 7:30 PM at the 1906 Restaurant in High River.
The Alberta Party is different. Let me prove it to you.
On Thursday, March 3, 2016, Paige MacPherson, Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) proposed that the government seek a 10% rollback on Teachers salaries. And you know what? She is perfectly right to ask that question.
In our economic reality where government revenue is heavily tied to the price of a barrel of oil, currently cheaper than a schooner of Big Rock Honey Brown, there is no money in the bank account. Asking teachers to take such a rollback would amount to approximately $340,000,000 in the provincial coffers that would be used to ...
Okay, so what does a 10% cut to teachers' salaries mean? It means teachers are in effect taking $6,000 to $10,000 out of their paycheck and giving it back to the government. Or, alternatively, it means approximately 4000 teacher positions will be removed across the province, which follows as a more likely outcome based on what happened in 2003. The amount being asked of teachers is equivalent to more than the entirety of the education budget cuts in 1994 (not including the taxation powers that were removed from school boards).
Alberta Teachers are among the best paid in the country. However, contrary to what the CTF says, taking a pay cut of 10% would not keep them as the top-paid teachers in the country, it would actually drop them from the current position of 4th behind the territories to 5th behind Ontario, almost on par with Manitoba. Nonetheless, we're still easily in the top five, even after such a pay cut.
So let's talk about this cut in terms of return on investment. In 1994 teachers took a 5% rollback under the then Klein-Administration with not much more than platitudes of "we'll make it better". In my mind, sustainability doesn't last 22 years, it lasts much longer, yet here we are, with the consideration of asking teachers to give it up again. This time, when we seriously consider the cuts, let's make sure we do it with a keener eye to not allowing the government to bring us here again in 22 years.
So teachers, as you seriously consider a 10% rollback, you must ask "if we give you this money, what are you going to do with it?"
Is the $340,000,000 going to be earmarked for fixing the economy, which is the cause of this issue in the first place? Does the Alberta Government have a plan to diversify the economy, and get off our dependence on oil? Investment in green energy doesn't count, that's already being funded by the carbon tax. Neither does the eventual increase in income and corporate taxes, although they will definitely result in additional revenue for the government that is not based on oil. However, income and corporate taxes are heavily based on, wait for it, income, so with so few Albertans earning one of those, we can't count on that revenue either.
So the answer is no to those questions? Okay then, let's consider something else that money could be used for.
Is the $340,000,000 earmarked for a plan to reduce class complexity, including special needs, English Language Learning, impoverished or at-risk students? Will it be used to provide professional development to help us learn how to better manage the increasing class sizes and class complexities? If history is any indicator, the more likely result will be the loss of teacher positions, which will not ameliorate class complexity issues. Further, with fewer Albertans earning an income, and at-risk behaviour and educational success being tied to poverty, those class complexities are only about to get even more complex.
So again, the answer is no to those questions? Then what would this money be used for? Convince the teachers it would be used for something!
It would be used to help the government provide services. Services like teachers.
So hang on, if teachers concede a rollback of 10%, that 10% might just go fund ... teachers? So what that is saying is that a teacher that makes $80,000, the CTF is suggesting the government can only afford $72,000 of their current contract if the teachers concede that rollback. If the teachers don't concede that rollback, the government would then only be able to afford $64,000.
So take the 10%, or see 20% of your salary's worth cut from the classroom.
What that means is the CTF's proposal is not in fact a proposal, but a veiled threat. And it's not threatening teachers most. It's threatening students.
From a business perspective, what we see here is absolutely no return on the investment the CTF is asking teachers to make in Alberta.
Instead, the CTF is asking teachers to manage an increase in class complexity and size, continue to deliver world-class education that other countries look to for examples of educational leadership and research (don't give me the math debate garbage, I've already debunked that), deal with a decrease in income to manage their home day-to-day expenses which often include classroom supplies, and to carry the entire weight of a faltering economy, with no plan to fix it.
What is left to convince teachers to take this rollback? "Be considerate of your neighbours who have had paycuts and job losses, too". A sort of "misery loves company" rationale.
Teachers help our future learn how to question, criticize, reflect, show their work, stand up for what's right, write for a purpose, read for understanding, shoot hoops, make a tower out of dry spaghetti and marshmallows, make a cooler out of cardboard and sawdust, make their parents cry as they play Shenandoah with 63 of their peers, apologize and mean it, refuse to be sorry and instead be better, and make a difference.
Which of those things would you cut to provide the misery of Albertans with more company?
Teachers are already being considerate of their fellow Albertans, as what happens to those Albertans happens to their kids. That means that teachers are already dealing with the increased at-risk behaviour, the kids who come to school hungry because there's no food in the pantry, and the elevated expectations of parents who just don't want their kids to have to go through what they are.
Teachers are already taking a 10% rollback. They cry every time they see another kid disadvantaged. Its just costing teachers their souls and sanity instead of their salary. In response to MacPherson's "won't somebody please think about the chidren" cry, teachers would not be faulted for saying "we do, every damn day."
So teachers, as you seriously consider the 10% rollback, consider these things as well; there is no plan to solve the economic issues, there is no plan to deal with classroom conditions, and you are indeed the best teachers in the world defending our future.
Make your decision with that in mind.