A quick update on the UCP leadership race. While I cannot vote in it, I would personally vote for Doug Schweitzer as my first choice followed by Brian Jean. Nonetheless I hope the UCP wins in 2019 no matter whom they choose. The reason I favour Doug Schweitzer is he is fiscally conservative while stays away from social issues. Most Albertans are not socially conservative and having social conservative views allows the NDP to attack the UCP leader and divert attention from their horrible economic policies. I do though think Doug Schweitzer should modify a few of his policies. With his tax cut, I think dropping the top rate from 15% to 10% is going too far so I would recommend dropping it to 13% which would make Alberta the lowest taxed province in Canada without swelling the deficit too much while for lower income earners the tax cut should be from 10% to 8% as opposed to only 9%. I also think his decision to roll back the minimum wage hike is a bad idea. The Notley government was wrong to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, but I don’t believe it’s a good idea to rollback once it is done. Rather freeze it at that level for 5 years to allow inflation and growth to catch up.
I have nothing against Brian Jean and think he would be a decent leader. Jason Kenney is quite capable, but I fear he is way too polarizing and with him, Alberta could risk another NDP government. While I am more centrist than any of the three UCP candidates, I believe the NDP absolutely must be defeated and only the UCP can do so. Adopting anti-business policies that scare away business is bad as well as my biggest problem is their uncontrolled spending and exploding deficit. The debt was $19 billion when they came to power, will be $70 billion by the time of the next election and that level of debt increase is completely unacceptable. I realize with lower oil prices balancing the budget may have been a challenge, but the government should have shown far more restraint and I am afraid if nothing is done on the debt things could turn quite ugly thus why it is imperative the NDP be removed from office. I understand most people care about public services, but spending what you don’t have today just means austerity in the future. As painful as austerity can be, spending like drunken sailors just means it will be even more painful, so the sooner action is taken the less painful it will be. A few policies I would recommend:
– Freeze the minimum wage at $15/hour for 5 years and then depending on the economy and inflation consider raising it in line with inflation.
– Make the carbon tax revenue neutral and drop the idea of fighting it in court which the province will lose and is offside with what younger voters who are the future want.
– Reduce wages of civil servants by 10% which would still make them amongst the highest paid in Canada and would avoid any lay offs or frontline service cuts
– Develop a plan to balance the budget in 3 years.
– Once balanced, drop the small business tax rate by 1% and reduce the corporate tax rate back to 11%
– Flatten the income tax into three brackets with those below 50K being dropped to 8%, Those in the 12% bracket would drop to 10% while those in the 14% and 15% would drop to 13%. This would make Alberta the lowest taxed province again without losing the progressivity in income taxes which most want. Flat tax may sound good, but with heightened concerns about income inequality, they have fallen out of style unlike 15-20 years ago.
UPDATE: Jason Kenney has won the UCP leadership race. While not my first choice Notley’s out of control spending must be stopped so I hope he wins. However, so there is a strong alternative, I hope the Alberta Liberals, Alberta Party, and dissatisfied PCs from a united centrist option so if people do tire of the UCP or he goes too far there is a reasonable alternative in 2023, not the NDP.