Alberta Party AGM - October 20, 2018

I am so pleased to see so many friends here today – I personally want to thank all of you for coming.

I also want to offer a special welcome to the 42 nominated candidates who for the most part have come this weekend, with their teams and their enthusiasm and their ideas to help us build onto this movement.

This is a major milestone as we have now surpassed the number of candidates that we ran in the 2015 election.

And we have more coming on a weekly basis!

By the end of the year, we will have 87 candidates for all 87 ridings. We are running to win and to form government, not to come second.

We are building a team with rich diversity, bringing together knowledge and expertise from different genders, cultures, and industries.

We have entrepreneurs, lawyers, engineers, consultants, economic development specialists, former mayors, and educators and even a doctor Oh, and two archaeologists just in case.

We have former NDP, Liberal and PC candidates, but mostly new individuals who are passionate about Alberta and its future.

Our strength comes from a common goal to look beyond political labels and bring forward practical and creative solutions that suit the appetite of Albertans.

We are a kaleidoscope of today’s Alberta. A modern movement that reflects our modern province.

To each of our candidates, I am so proud of the energy and dedication you have brought to your individual campaigns, and I know, both myself and our current Alberta Party Caucus are thrilled to know that our team is growing every day.

It’s been a year of building of listening of travelling almost every highway in this province.

It’s been a year of growth for our young party.

Of ideas and challenges raised by our small but very formidable caucus…..and all of them deserve our thanks for their efforts: Greg, Karen, Rick.

It’s been a year with a job where the mileage has finally convinced me to buy a hybrid car.

And in which I could have started a blog about the best barbeque spots in Alberta, or about the really unique summer parades that bring out so many to celebrate their communities across our province. And it’s been a pleasure. 

Every day I go to work with people who are so very dedicated to this province and to truly bringing forward solid ideas, passion and vision for Alberta.

A big thanks to our current and outgoing Board Members for all of their hard work, especially our Party President Rhiannon Hoyle.

Yes this past year been a pleasure and definitely also a challenge.

We have to do more. We have to be more diligent in getting our message to the media and to the public.

Our innovative policy will help us create a platform to provide the direction our province needs to meet the incredible challenges we face.

It’s these challenges though that push us to work harder than anyone else out there, because every vote and every membership is hard-earned - and it is so so satisfying.

There is an integrity in what we are building here. To attract Albertans and to continue our growth, we’re constantly trying to be the best versions of ourselves.

The work we will do this weekend – and everyday - is focused on a positive vision for our province.  And it makes us the one, non-polarizing, positive force in Alberta politics today.

And I know that so many Albertans are looking for that positive option – for a party with a vision to move the Province forward, not at the expense of others, but by creating the opportunities that allow us to make progress together. 

Politics today has become a place where people debate personalities not issues, taking finite words and then interpreting them in a skewed manner to try to embarrass or discredit others. We have lost sight of why we should debate issues.

As leader of the Alberta Party, I feel that discussion should be centered on policies, not personalities.

This practice of misrepresentation and attacks on character is turning the younger generation away from being a part of the process.

We will make every effort to follow this principle, and if we get offside, let us know. Call me.

We all know Alberta is really at a crossroads. With the current state of the province, governing in 2019 will be a difficult job, no matter who forms government.  We all know that our province is in a difficult time.

Every Albertan feels the impact of:

  • A pipeline promised, but not delivered,
  • an unprecedented discount of our oil,
  • an exodus of capital,
  • skyrocketing levels of provincial debt,
  • and a situation where our largest client is now becoming our greatest competitor.

It frustrates me when politicians are too busy politicking, rather than finding solutions.

The future of our economy is a real concern.

We have a business climate that discourages investment, negatively impacts small business and a province without direction.

From 2006 to 2014, Alberta’s capital investment grew at an annual rate of 7% - a period including the Great Financial Crisis. Since 2015, investment has fallen at an annual rate of 11%.

Alberta’s share of Canadian capital investment fell from 36% in 2014 to a projected 23% now in 2018.

Even if we could turn things around immediately, the capital won’t be coming back right away.

Job creation in the private sector has been on the decline while public service employment has grown immensely.

Prior to 2015, Alberta’s unemployment rate had been below that of Canada for 27 consecutive years.

Since January 2016, Alberta’s unemployment rate has exceeded that of Canada, that’s 33 consecutive months. Calgary alone has the second highest unemployment in Canada, at 8.2%.

It’s a record that is unprecedented, even during the period of the National Energy Policy.

We can all agree that our energy industry has been a blessing to our economy. We’ve succeeded based on the wealth of our resources – but we now know that it will take much more than developing what nature has blessed us with.

I’m sure most of us agree that our governments have put all their eggs in this one basket for too long.

An Alberta Party government would invest the necessary efforts needed to meaningfully evolve our economy and diversify our markets. And of course, we would support and strengthen our energy industry, it remains to be, and will continue to be, our inherent strength.

An Alberta Party government would’ve been much more effective in dealing with the Trans Mountain Pipeline by building bridges with our neighbours and securing a better deal with Ottawa.

Instead of working with our provincial partner and finding solutions, our government has thrown veiled threats at BC - no wine, no power contracts, no oil and we still have no agreements.

To date, our government refuses to take any responsibility over the current situation. I must say that these approaches do more harm than good. We are all discouraged about our pipeline challenges and the ridiculous delays right now, but there is opportunity here too – to work with our indigenous communities while protecting the environment on land and sea. 

We can actually create social license if we think more broadly about how we create win wins.  We can work with our indigenous communities as actual partners who can create their own success, starting, I believe, by giving them a stake as partners in the pipeline as a means of vesting their claims. Because there is nothing that any community wants more than to build their own success – on terms that meet their goals. 

I’ve worked in business and frankly politics long enough to never believe in zero sum games. Only when everyone wins a little does progress get made.

We need to course-correct, before all we have left is the fight, and before our desire to win points against others completely eclipses the goals we have been fighting for.

We need to find space to advance our goals, before the projects and markets have completely moved on without us. And this is where the Alberta Party can shine. Because we exist in a space that tries to build bridges. Because we have assembled a team that is focused on doing government, and doing it better. 

These challenges that our province faces are magnified in parts of rural Alberta. We’ve encounter rural municipalities where:

  • Major employers are shutting down and leaving
  • Unacceptable levels of crime
  • Inadequate access to services
  • Low to no internet access
  • and even School closures. And we all know what it means when the school closes in the community.

They feel a real uncertainty about the future viability of their communities and no one is listening. The time has come to sit down with those communities to plan for their future.

Mid-sized cities face their own challenges:

  • Populations are growing, but they’re paralyzed by provincial funding strategies
  • Inadequate funding for hospitals
  • lack of adequate social services especially supports for the increasing level of need
  • and regional crime issues which now include cannabis on top of the opioid crisis

These are only a few of the many challenges that these communities face. We must be committed to solving those problems through listening to and working with each of these communities.

We have suggested the creation of a comprehensive rural strategy, which will include a Regional Economic Infrastructure Fund to help with the capital needs for these areas as well as decentralizing the delivery of healthcare and social services to be more responsive to each community.

Rural Alberta is an economic engine of our province - we must see it succeed.

My grandson, Chase, is the world to me. And my driving force this year is that I know we need to get our butt in gear to build the type of world I want him to grow up in.

We’re not here because it’s easy.

We’re not here for money or power.

We’re here because we care. Deeply.

We’re here to provide solid leadership and discuss real solutions.

I look forward to some healthy debate this afternoon and listening to you, the members of the Alberta Party, as you guide us into the next election.

More important though, is how we move forward after this.

You can count on me, and our very capable team, to provide the vision, direction and tools we need going into the next election.

But we’re going to need your help too.

  • Tell people why you’re involved with the Alberta Party
  • Get your friends and family together and invite any of us to come talk about the party
  • Come doorknock with us!

We believe that Albertans are looking for balanced approach to governing, one that has an understanding of fiscal responsibility, but realizes that our community must have the supports necessary for a modern progressive society.

We believe that Albertans are worried about the direction, or lack thereof, in our province right now, and the Alberta Party will provide the bold vision we need to move forward. We have racked up very few wins over the last few years and it has cost us a lot.

But the solution is not in over-reacting – but in careful nuanced planning. The solution is in optimism – about ourselves and our potential And in realism – about what we are up against and what it will take to get beyond our current challenges.

I know we are building the right team to meet these challenges.

I am so excited by the fact that we are Alberta’s true believers and that together we will find a better way.

Thank you so much for your faith, your belief and your willingness to do the hard work.

I am so proud to lead this team.

Together, we can challenge Alberta to be better.

To build the type of party you want to see. To build the type of government we want to see, and the type of society that we want for our future generations.

I thank you all for your support.

Now let’s get going!