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Poll shows most Albertans opposed to Kenney government

The majority of Albertans are now turning a thumbs down to Premier Jason Kenney and his UCP government.

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The majority of Albertans are now turning a thumbs down to Premier Jason Kenney and his UCP government.

A new poll released Monday by ThinkHQ Public Affairs shows 53 per cent of Albertans are now opposed to how Kenney is running the province.

That’s compared with 44 per cent of the population who approve of the government’s actions.

“Approval for the Kenney government has dropped by 12 percentage points since mid-October, with a comparable increase in disapproval. Strictly looking at performance ratings from voters, the new UCP government today is almost identical to the NDP government just prior to the spring election,” ThinkHQ said in a release.

“Disapproval for the provincial government is particularly high in Edmonton, and although enthusiasm has cooled somewhat in the past few weeks, the UCP remains more popular outside of the two metropolitan centres – particularly in northern and central Alberta.”

The poll showed more men than women like the Kenney government and approval goes up with age.

“Fully one-fifth (21 per cent) of those who voted for the UCP during the spring election now say they disapprove of the party’s performance as government,” the release said.

Jobs, health care and education were the most important issues for the people polled.

ThinkHQ President Marc Henry said: “This is a significant drop in support, and likely foreshadows a bumpy start in 2020 for the UCP government. Their honeymoon has been fairly short-lived, and this is driven by not meeting voters’ expectations, on economic and non-economic issues.

“Following the provincial election, there was actually a spike in economic optimism among Albertans. The expectation among many voters was that a new government would usher in a speedy economic recovery. That hasn’t happened yet.”

Henry said those polled were concerned with cuts in health care and education.

“For many voters, particularly a substantial segment of UCP voters, this is out of step with what they heard during the campaign. For these voters, they believed that budgets would be balanced with little or no pain inflicted on services like health care and education and are now perhaps feeling a bit of buyer’s remorse,” Henry said.

“Of note is the finding that 21 per cent of those who voted for the UCP only a few months ago now disapprove of the government’s performance – this is a dangerous number for any government.  If this persists and these voter’s feel as though they were misled, it impacts trust and makes them awfully difficult to win back.”

Kenney’s office replied with a speech the premier made on Dec.12.

“It’s been a long time since we had an Alberta government with a backbone to say ‘no’ on occasion. We’ve had too many of my predecessors that sat in this chair more concerned about their polling numbers than doing the right thing. Reducing public spending is not a quick path to personal popularity, which is why we’ve had 15 years of avoiding the inevitable as the problem has grown on the fiscal side,” Kenney said.

The poll was conducted online from Dec. 3-6. More than 1,200 people were polled and it is accurate to 2.8 per cent 19 times out of 20.

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter: @Nobby7694

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard. He has served as the City Editor of the Calgary Sun and has covered Alberta news for nearly 40 years. dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

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Rural municipalities told to ‘stop crying wolf’ over proposed property tax changes

Rural Municipalities of Alberta President Al Kemmere said 69 counties and municipal districts represented by the RMA stand to lose up to 40 per cent of their tax base.

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Fears are growing amongst rural Alberta municipalities about a proposed UCP plan to give oil and gas companies property tax breaks at the expense of residents.

But the head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation says the municipalities should “stop crying wolf” and get to work cutting their own taxes.

“If municipal councillors and mayors were half as worried about finding savings as they are about trying to grab more tax dollars then many more of our challenges would be solved by now,” Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director of the CTF, told the Western Standard.

The proposed changes are a way to bring relief to Alberta’s struggling oil and gas companies and a report outlining four possible linear taxation models was given to the UCP caucus last month.

Rural Municipalities of Alberta President Al Kemmere said 69 counties and municipal districts represented by the RMA stand to lose up to 40 per cent of their tax base.

A survey released by the RMA in January said the oil and gas sector also owes $173 million in unpaid taxes to rural municipalities.

“Nobody lives in a Cadillac world here – rural Albertans often get by with the marginal, but when you reduce like this, it’s going to hurt,” Kemmere told the CBC, adding some municipalities might not survive the possible changes.

“To collect what we’re losing, it’s almost a non-realistic approach. We’ve got some members that are going to have to double their present tax rates within the residential sector. And that’s just not doable.”

Lacombe County officials are preparing for a worst case scenario of a 39 per cent increase.

One of the plans would see a $4-million drop in revenue for the County of Vermilion River, according to Reeve Dale Swyripa. That would mean increasing the residential mill rate by 109 per cent, increasing the non-residential mill rate by 25 per cent, cutting services by 45 per cent or a combination of all.

The M.D. of Wainwright said they could lose $6.9 to $9.4 million or 22 to 30 per cent of their total tax revenue. The M.D. may have to increase the residential tax rate by 290 to 393 per cent and the non-residential tax rate by 37.4 to 58.4 per cent. 

Camrose County is looking at increasing the residential mill rate by up to 56 per cent, the non-residential mill rate by 32 per cent.

“This isn’t a Camrose County issue. This is a rural issue,” she said. “There is no county in Alberta that will not be affected,” Reeve Cindy Trautman told CBC.

In Northern Sunrise County, the residential mill rate would have to be hiked by 200 to 500 per cent, or the county’s workforce — and corresponding services — cut by up to 80 per cent.

But Terrazzano said: “Northern Sunrise County is one of the biggest spending municipalities in Alberta, spending $17,000 per person annually!”

“A huge place all municipalities (including Northern Sunrise County) needs to cut is labour costs. Through the downturn (2014-2018), municipal government labour costs across Alberta increased by 17 per cent while all employee compensation in the province declined by 6 per cent.

Cypress-Medicine Hat UCP MLA said his phone has been ringing off the hook with worried residents.

“I’ve probably had about 30 calls in the last 24 hours,” Barnes told the Western Standard before stepping into a meeting Wednesday afternoon with municipal affairs officials.

“I’m glad the government has not finalized anything and is open to discussion. We have to do everything we can to leave money in the hands of citizens and every municipality has room to improve.”

But he said the government also needs to work with companies and suggested cheaper access to the Alberta Energy Regulator for them as one possible idea.

“If we don’t do something to arrest the trend of industry bankruptcies and financial insolvencies, there’s not going to be a long term or an industry in some of these communities, so the assessments are going to go to zero,” Ben Brunnen, vice-president of oilsands with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, told CBC.

“It’s one of those scenarios where everyone needs to sacrifice a little bit.”

The province says no policy decisions have been made.

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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UCP creates $10 million corporate welfare program to fight global warming

The Alberta government has created a new program funded through the province’s carbon tax.

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Albeta’s UCP government has launched another multi-million corporate welfare program – this time spending $10 million on three projects funded through the provincial carbon tax.

The government said Wednesday that $3 million will be given to the Sundre Petroleum Operators Group (SPOG) to test the viability of methane emissions reduction technology, saying that improvements could enhance the accuracy of finding methane emission leaks at a lower cost. 

The government also gave the Alberta Machine Intelligence Institute (Amii) $5-million to develop artificial intelligence capabilities that could help companies identify emission reductions opportunities.

Finally, it will give $2 million to the Petroleum Technology Alliance of Canada (PTAC) to conduct applied research that could improve oil and gas sector methane emission management and control, while also reducing costs to industry. 

“Last year, when we introduced TIER, we said we would help job creators reduce their emissions by making investments in technology and research,” said Environment Minister Jason Nixon in a statement.

TIER (Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction Regulation) is the new name given to Alberta’s carbon tax to replace the NDP’s “Climate Action Plan”.

“Today’s announcement is an example of that, and helps further our position as a global leader in technology-driven environmentally responsible development. These programs will help industry identify, track, measure and ultimately reduce emissions. They will also ensure we maintain our competitive edge while creating jobs and economic growth for Alberta.”

The UCP platform broadly committed to ending corporate welfare subsidies.

“Premier Jason Kenney needs to get back to doing good work on reducing taxes for everyone and stop picking winners and losers,” said Franco Terrazzano, Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. 

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard
dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com
Twitter.com/nobby7694

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Calgary cops identify suspects in hate crime attack

“It is shocking to see anyone targeted for a crime because of a personal characteristic, but it is extremely disturbing to see the same community targeted three times in one weekend,” said Sgt. Arlene Padnivelan,

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Calgary copssay they have identified two men who attacked a same sex couple as they strolled down a northwest street.

It was one of three attacks over the weekend against members of Calgary’s LGBTQ2S+ community.

The incident occurred around 5:30 p.m., on Monday, as a same-sex couple was walking near the intersection of 9 St. and Memorial Dr. N.W., when two men and two women on electronic scooters approached them, police said.

“An altercation occurred and it is believed the two men on scooters assaulted the couple because of their sexual orientation. A belt, rocks and a recycling bin were used as weapons and then the group fled,” said police in a press released.

Suspects wanted in connection with a same sex attack
Courtesy Calgary Police Service

“Our officers arrived shortly after and searched the area but could not locate the group. The victims received medical care for non-life-threatening injuries.”

The two suspects are both described as being about 30 years old, average height and build, with trim black beards and short black hair. The one was wearing black framed glasses, white polo shirt, dark pants, brown loafers, and white socks. The other was wearing a grey polo shirt with white collar and sleeves, grey pants, and white runners.

Police said Wednesday morning the suspects had been identified and the investigation continues.

The first incident happened when man was assaulted near the intersection of 17 Ave. and 12 St. in the middle of the day on Friday. It is alleged that a group of men attacked the victim while calling him homophobic slurs and then fled.

The second incident occurred around 1 p.m. on Saturday on the Rainbow Crosswalk at the intersection of Centre St. and Stephen Avenue Mall. A Drag King recording a video was spat on by an unknown man walking past. The incident is now being investigated and video and CCTV footage is being collected by us to help identify the man responsible, said police.

“It is shocking to see anyone targeted for a crime because of a personal characteristic, but it is extremely disturbing to see the same community targeted three times in one weekend,” said Sgt. Arlene Padnivelan, with the Calgary Police Service Diversity Resource Team.

“It is unacceptable that this is happening and we will absolutely investigate anytime a crime is motivated by hate or bias.”

Police encourage anyone who has been targeted for ill treatment or a crime because of their sexual orientation, gender, race, religion or some other similar trait to report it.

“We fully recognize that sometimes people do not want to involve the police or don’t feel comfortable coming to us for help,” said Padnivelan.

“We respect the wishes of those who are most affected by the incident and never force a victim to participate in a police investigation. However, if there is a way we can help make a person feel safe enough to come forward, we want to try do that.”

Dave Naylor is the News Editor of the Western Standard

dnaylor@westernstandardonline.com

Twitter.com/nobby7694

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