Alberta NDP leader and former Premier Rachel Notley spent a couple of days in the Lesser Slave Lake area last week. She called it “a listening tour,” – hearing what is on the minds of various councils and others.
What she’s hearing, she said, is a lot of concern about the possibility of doctors leaving, property taxes going up and jobs not materializing, among other topics.
Notley had just met with Big Lakes County council and was on her way to Sucker Creek at the time of the interview. She’d also met with East Prairie Council and the Sawridge First Nation. On her way back to Edmonton she was due to meet in Slave Lake with “a less organized group.”
One topic at the Big Lakes meeting was the potential loss of a big chunk of property tax revenue from oil companies, due to proposed changes to the linear assessment (pipelines, etc.) model. Both Big Lakes and the M.D. of Lesser Slave River are looking at hard blows to their finances. Notley says the economic benefits to the province are dubious, to say the least. Oil company shareholders might benefit, but most of them are not Albertans. And there’s no evidence of increased investment or more jobs in Alberta, she said, despite government campaign promises.
“It’s a bad plan and he (Premier Jason Kenney) should stop doing it,” she said.
As to what if anything the Opposition party in the legislature can do about it, Notley said, “We’ve been successful in getting the government to back down somewhat,” on other issues, and will continue to hammer on this one (and others).
Notley said she thinks the Kenney government underestimates the anger in rural Alberta – takes the rural population for granted.