To the editor:
When I visit rural communities in my constituency like Vegreville, Andrew, Mundare and Tofield, I’m impressed by the culture, the people’s entrepreneurial spirit and good old Albertan hospitality. Rural Albertans are the backbone of our great province, and I’m proud to represent my rural constituents in Fort Saskatchewan Vegreville.
But the proposed United Conservative Party policies released publicly earlier this month have major implications for rural Alberta, and they’re not good.
Jason Kenney’s plan includes a $700 million tax giveaway for the top one per cent of earners making more than $303,000, and plans to introduce American-style health care, and deep cuts in our public-school classrooms.
And there’s more. The UCP is also trying to hide in their policies a plan to sell off some of Alberta’s most valued institutions.
This would include Alberta Treasury Branches, a Crown corporation. For dozens of small communities across this province, ATB is the only commercial banking service available. It holds $40 billion in loans, representing residential mortgages, agriculture loans, and small-business loans in rural communities across the province.
Without ATB, it would be harder for farmers and entrepreneurs in rural and remote communities to start businesses and develop the local economy.
Jason Kenney is on the record advocating for the province to privatize ATB during his time with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, and advocated for privatizing other Crown corporations during his time in Ottawa.
Albertans roundly rejected the idea of privatizing ATB in in 1990s when Ralph Klein’s government was trying to sell off every asset it could. Even members of his own government opposed the move.
Now we have Jason Kenney trying to push the same sort of policies that Albertans have already rejected, and he’s trying to convince us the idea comes from the grassroots. He’s dead wrong.
None of the rural Albertans I speak to have suggested to me that selling off and privatizing ATB would improve their lives, or improve the lives of anyone in this province.
Our government has the backs of rural Albertans, and we’re going to protect services that provide direct benefit to all of us. I welcome your ideas about these misguided policies. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MLA for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville