The energy sector, carbon tax, and the 100 megatonne emissions cap were just a few topics brought up at the latest United Conservative Party leadership debate in Fort McMurray.
On Thursday at Shell Place, Fort McMurray – Conklin MLA Brian Jean, former PC Leader Jason Kenney, and Lawyer Doug Schweitzer took part in the forth forum just ahead of the leadership election.
During the debate, Jean was asked whether he would undo the changes to the municipal government act – brought on by Bill 21 and Bill 8.
The bills would set the tax ratio across the entire province at 5:1 with the RMWB currently sitting at 17.9:1 – resulting in the region preparing to lose $20 million per year, over the next 10-years, from the budget.
He told the crowd he would stop these changes.
“It’s a knee-jerk reaction by the NDP’s that think one size fits all and one size doesn’t fit all. We need to make sure we have a regional decision making body that affects the people in the most appropriate way.”
Jean was also asked if he would scrap the 100-megatonne cap of emissions – simply saying “yes, immediately.” This cap along with the carbon tax are things which Jean says will be gone within 30-days if elected as Premier.
Speaking to around 200 people in attendance, Kenney said he wants to get the province’s tax rates “down as quickly as we can” to help get to a balanced budget.
When asked after the debate about Bill 21 and its impacts on taxes, he says it’s something he would bring back to the drawing board.
“I want to listen to the municipalities and we certainly don’t want massive increases in tax rates, we want the system to be fair, and I think this hasn’t had adequate consultation.”
If elected as Premier, Kenney says he would start the “summer of repeal” which would look to throw away many of the Bills brought in by the NDP government – starting with the carbon tax.
Meanwhile, Schweitzer told reporters he takes the same position as Jean when it comes to Bill 21 – adding “he’s taking the right direction on it.”
He was, however, very vocal when it came to repealing other bills and regulations brought in by the provincial government.
“The emissions cap gone, carbon tax gone, we also have to talk about $15.00 minimum wage that the NDP’s want to put in place, gone. We have to make sure we get these policies right.”
The last debate will be held in Lethbridge on October 17.
The leadership election will be on October 28 with UCP party members having until 5:00 p.m. on Friday to register to vote.