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Alberta Votes 2019 – All Three major parties made big promises on Monday

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Alberta’s political parties are in full-on campaign mode as Election Day approaches on April 16th. Each day the parties release information about their policies and platforms, candidate information and reactions to the day’s news. It can be difficult to try and keep up with it all, so from now until the election we’ll compile the news and information released from the parties each day.

(Parties listed in alphabetical order)

Alberta Party 

Stephen Mandel announced a plan to bring film and motion picture jobs and head offices back to Alberta from BC.

“Alberta has the beauty and talent to be the preferred location for film and television production in Canada, but the NDP has completely ignored this opportunity. The Alberta Party will put incentives in place to massively expand our screen industries, which will generate spin-off benefits for every city, town and village across our province.”

Stephen Mandel – Leader of the Alberta Party

FILM IN ALBERTA PROGRAM

  • The Film in Alberta Program will be the most attractive program of its kind in Canada. Corporations will receive a tax credit of up to 65% of eligible salaries or a tax credit of 35% on all eligible expenditures within Alberta.
    • The corporation must have a permanent establishment in Alberta.
    • Some genres will be excluded from the credit including, but not limited to, pornography, talk shows, live sports events, game shows, reality television, and advertising.
    • There will be no limit on production or video length. This will make Alberta the first jurisdiction in Canada to encourage YouTube and online creators to produce content here in Alberta. It will also attract e-sports broadcasting to Alberta.
    • Reduce red tape to film in locations under provincial jurisdiction.
    • The program is based on Manitoba’s model, which includes incentives for rural productions to achieve the full credit.
  • Hollywood has been coming to Alberta to make films since 1917. Productions made in Alberta have won more Emmys, Golden Globes and Oscars than any other region in the country. Alberta has an incredibly rich and diverse setting for film and television production — including mountains, foothills, plains, farmland, boreal forest, and urban locations. This competitive advantage can’t be offshored.
  • In 2017, the total volume of film and television production in Alberta was $308 million, while British Columbia and Ontario were close to $3 billion each. This program is expected to increase the economic impact of screen industries in Alberta to approximately $1.5 billion with benefits seen within the first few years. Spin-off economic activity across the province will boost hotels, the food industry and other support services.
  • The industry employs a variety of highly skilled workers such as programmers, electricians, and carpenters. Stimulating a huge expansion in this industry will create thousands of high-skilled, well-paying jobs and retain post-secondary graduates in Alberta.

 

NDP 

Rachel Notley introduced a plan to cap child care fees at $25 a day and add 13,000 more spaces across Alberta.

“Finding safe, quality, affordable child care shouldn’t be a lottery,” said Notley. “It should be something families in Alberta can depend on.”

Rachel Notley – Leader of the New Democratic Party of Alberta

To help more parents join or stay in the workforce, Rachel Notley is committing to expand $25-a-day child care across Alberta.

UCP

United Conservative leader Jason Kenney outlines the United Conservative education platform.

“As math scores plunge and report cards become increasingly difficult to understand, a United Conservative government will reset the curriculum rewrite, restore fundamentals to math and affirm the primary role of parents in choosing how their children are taught. It’s time to bring common sense to education.”

Jason Kenney, Leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta

The United Conservative plan laid out by Kenney will:

  1. Maintain or increase education funding while seeking greater efficiency by reducing administrative overhead and pushing resources to front line teachers.
  2. Continue to build new schools. This will include ordering an immediate audit of class sizes to determine what happened to previous funding dedicated to class size reduction, and prioritizing public infrastructure funds for schools and health care infrastructure.
  3. End the focus on so-called “discovery” or “inquiry” learning, also known as constructivism, by repealing Minister Order #001/2013. A UCP government will develop a new Ministerial Order which focusses on teaching essential knowledge to help students develop foundational competencies.
  4. Pause the NDP’s curriculum review, and broaden consultations to be open and transparent, including a wider range of perspectives from parents, teachers, and subject matter experts.
  5. Reform student assessment so that students, parents and teachers can clearly identify areas of strength and weakness. This will include bringing back the Grade 3 Provincial Achievement Test, returning to a 50/50 split between Diploma and school grades for Grade 12, and implementing language and math assessments for students in grades 1, 2, and 3 to help both parents and teachers understand and assess progress in the critical early years, and remedy where necessary.
  6. Require clear, understandable report cards.
  7. Focus on excellence in outcomes, including benchmarking the Alberta education system against leading global jurisdictions; ensuring teachers have expertise in subject areas by introducing teacher testing; expand options for schools to facilitate expertise; requiring that the education faculties in Alberta’s universities themselves require that teachers take courses in the subjects they will one day teach in schools.
  8. Support safe schools that protect students against discrimination and bullying; and reinforce the need for open, critical debate and thinking as key to lifelong learning.
  9. Proclaim the Education Act (2014), taking effect on September 1, 2019. A UCP government will trust the hard work done by those who created the 2014 Education Act, and proclaim that legislation, already passed by the Legislature. Unlike the NDP’s curriculum review, conducted largely in secret, the 2014 Education Act resulted from years of widespread public consultation.
  10. Affirm parental choice through a Choice in Education Act. Alberta has a strong legacy of diversity in education. A UCP government will uphold the established right of parents to choose the education setting best suited for their children including: public, separate, charter, independent, alternative and home education programs.
  11. Reduce paperwork burdens on teachers, principals and other school staff, and reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens throughout the system.
  12. Review and implement selected recommendations from the Task Force for Teaching Excellence. A UCP government will work with parents, teachers and principals to once again make Alberta’s schools the choice-based, excellent classrooms that all Albertans desire and deserve. A UCP government will defer to parents as the natural guardians of a child’s best interests and will trust teachers as professionals.
  13. Review the current funding formula to ensure that rural schools have adequate resources to deliver programs in an equitable way.

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Tax Freedom Day – Canadian families face larger tax burden than last year

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From the Fraser Institute

By Grady Munro and Jake Fuss

According to a recent poll, nearly half of all Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque. While inflation has cooled and the steep growth in grocery prices has abated, taxes remain the single largest expense for Canadian families, and their tax bill continues to rise.

Canadians pay many different taxes and it can be hard to know how much you pay in total. We pay income taxes, sales taxes, health taxes, payroll taxes, property taxes and many others as part of our total tax bill. But while some of these taxes are visible—for example, you can check your income tax return to see how much you pay in personal income taxes—many others are hidden.

To help Canadians understand how much they pay in taxes, each year the Fraser Institute calculates Tax Freedom Day—the day of the year when the average Canadian family has earned enough money to pay all taxes levied by the federal, provincial and local governments. In other words, if Canadians were required to pay all their taxes up front, each and every dollar they earned prior to Tax Freedom Day would be paid to the government.

In 2024, the average Canadian family (two or more people) earning $147,570 will pay an estimated $65,766 in total taxes—or 44.6 per cent of its income. So, if you paid all your taxes for 2024 up front, you would pay the government every dollar you earned until June 13. After working the first 164 days of the year for the government, you now get to work for yourself.

Arriving on June 13, this year’s Tax Freedom Day comes one day later than last year—meaning the average Canadian family must work one day extra to pay off its total tax bill—because while the average family saw its income rise by 3.1 per cent, its total tax bill rose by 3.9 per cent.

And all signs point to rising taxes in the future.

This year the federal government expects to run a $39.8 billion deficit. Moreover, cumulative provincial deficits are projected to equal $30.1 billion, meaning total federal/provincial government debt is expected to increase by $69.9 billion in 2024/25. Future generations of Canadians will undoubtedly face tax increases to pay off this debt and few governments are demonstrating any fiscal restraint. Several governments (notably the federal government) have no plans to balance their budgets in the foreseeable future.

To help illustrate the size of the debt burden we’re passing on, we also calculate a Balanced Budget Tax Freedom Day, which reveals the hypothetical tax burden on Canadians if governments across the country had to raise taxes today to balance their budgets. This year, Balanced Budget Tax Freedom Day would arrive on June 23—10 days later than Tax Freedom Day.

With Tax Freedom Day falling one day later than last year, the burden of taxation is increasing for Canadian families. Unfortunately, governments are demonstrating little to no fiscal restraint, meaning Tax Freedom Day will likely arrive later in years to come.

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Inner city shoplifting and Manitoba Premier Wab Kinew

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From the Frontier Centre for Public Policy

By Brian Giesbrecht

This problem is only made worse by gullible writers and politicians who make excuses for the thieves. Their excuse is that these people are disadvantaged, so they are less than fully responsible for their criminal conduct. Some sympathetic souls go even further, and suggest that these indigenous shoplifters are simply taking back what is rightfully theirs as “reparations” because the shop owners are on “stolen land”.

Winnipeg, Manitoba is being hit with an epidemic of shoplifting that appears to be out of control. Thieves openly steal expensive items, such as frozen meat, from inner city food stores. Shelves are stripped bare in what are more accurately described as robberies than shoplifting. Victims describe brazen thefts by entitled thieves who become indignant when caught in the act. One store employee, who tried to stop a theft, was told “You are on Treaty 1 territory”. The stores that are hardest hit are often owned by immigrant families who have worked very hard to build their modest businesses. Some have had to close, as a result of the unchecked criminality, and others will follow.

Police protection is weak. Even in rare cases where culprits are caught and prosecuted, sentences are minimal.

The problem of brazen theft from Winnipeg liquor stores reached such a serious level in the recent past that customers at urban liquor stores in Manitoba are now allowed to enter the store only after lining up single file, and producing identification. Liquor prices have risen as a result, because special government employees must be hired to sit at the door to inspect ID’s. Customers must line up outside, even on the coldest winter days, because freeloaders choose to steal liquor. And everyone – including the police – are too shy to confront the robbers.

Other western cities, such as Regina, Saskatoon and Thunder Bay are having similar problems. Even small cities, such as Wetaskiwin, Alberta, are hard hit.

The common element is that all of these cities and towns have significant indigenous populations who migrated to the cities from largely dysfunctional reserves, where attitudes of dependency, entitlement and victimhood prevail. Most arrive poorly educated, with few job skills, but with an expectation that they will be provided for. They proceed to live rough lives on the mean streets of these cities. Many drift to shoplifting and other crime. The inner city thieves are disproportionately from this demographic.

This problem is only made worse by gullible writers and politicians who make excuses for the thieves. Their excuse is that these people are disadvantaged, so they are less than fully responsible for their criminal conduct. Some sympathetic souls go even further, and suggest that these indigenous shoplifters are simply taking back what is rightfully theirs as “reparations” because the shop owners are on “stolen land”. They argue that these indigenous people are victims of a system that gives them no chance to succeed, or that they are suffering from the “intergenerational trauma” presumably caused by the fact that 1 in 6 indigenous children attended residential schools in the past.

The shoplifters readily adopt these excuses, and claim to be victims of “systemic racism”.

But, wait a minute! Isn’t the Premier of Manitoba, Wab Kinew, indigenous? Isn’t he a successful, law-abiding person? And wouldn’t most indigenous Canadians laugh at the idea that they had to steal to survive? How is it that Wab Kinew, and the many other successful indigenous Canadians manage their lives just fine while the shoplifters cannot?

The answer is that Wab succeeded the way all successful people do. He went to school, worked hard, and went where the jobs are. He was fortunate to have competent, caring parents who understood the importance of education and hard work. His parents also understood that assimilation (or, if you prefer, integration) was essential for their son to succeed. Wab’s father had a rough time in residential school, but used what he learned to raise a son who has become a provincial premier.

 The fact that Kinew is fully assimilated does not prevent him from celebrating his indigenous heritage. Recently, a video of him energetically performing a prairie chicken dance went viral. It showed indigenous youth that they too can be both successful Canadians – and proudly indigenous – at the same time.

It is clear from watching him dancing so vigorously that he would have been a formidable warrior in pre-contact indigenous hunting culture. Colonialism ended that possibility. But it is equally clear that he, and the other indigenous people who were willing to learn the new ways, received a lot in return from the settlers. He is now an articulate, literate, thoroughly modern man, thanks to “settler colonialism”. Colonialism has also given him an expected lifespan more than double that of yesterday’s hunter-gatherers. Colonialism gave at least as much as it took from him.

Kinew’s memoir, “The Reason You Walk” describes someone determined to live his life not as a victim, but as a confident indigenous Canadian.

He built his own life – making mistakes along the way – but learning from those mistakes, and is now the leader of a province – and lauded as a possible future prime minister. He offers no apologies to critics who suggest that an indigenous person who is successful is somehow “selling out” indigenous people. His famous reply to that old saw is “Aboriginal success is the best form of reconciliation”.

Don’t expect to find Wab Kinew stealing frozen hamburger from a Food Fare store anytime soon.

But here’s the lesson indigenous youth can learn from the example Wab Kinew, and other successful indigenous people have set: “If they can do it, so can you”. They should also tell the apologists who want to give them tired excuses – excusing theft as “reparations” for perceived past wrongs, or “intergenerational trauma” – that they, like Wab, refuse to live their lives as “victims”.

In short, the solution to the shoplifting problem is not to condone theft. It is not to treat criminals differently because they are indigenous. It is not to offer them excuses. The solution is to create more Wab Kinews.

And that’s up to Indigenous parents. No government can do that for them. For many families, like Wab’s, that will include the difficult decision to move from dead-end reserves.  But if they have the same commitment to their children’s education and upbringing that Wab’s parents had there is no reason that they can’t raise successful children in this country.

Long before he became Manitoba’s premier, Wab Kinew, regularly entertained listeners on CBC Radio. He was a refreshing, common sense voice, and always refused to play the victim. He never failed to remind young indigenous people that Canada worked just fine for him.

And, with a bit of grit and hard work, it can work for them too.

 

Brian Giesbrecht, retired judge, is a Senior Fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy.

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