Constituents to join MLAs at economic forum

Constituents will accompany Central Alberta MLAs to the Alberta Economic Summit on Saturday.

Constituents will accompany Central Alberta MLAs to the Alberta Economic Summit on Saturday.

Premier Alison Redford announced the summit during her televised address to the province last month. About 300 people will attend the event at Calgary’s Mount Royal University.

“Each MLA will bring along a constituent, stakeholder or community leader,” said Redford spokesman Stefan Baranski.

“We’re trying to be as open as possible.”

The province has also invited “key stakeholders” to participate, said Baranski.

Wildrose MLA Kerry Towle for Innisfail-Sylvan Lake, who’s taking a Red Deer County resident, said the premier and cabinet already have economic experts at their disposal.

“The summit is just a way to convince those who go to their way of thinking. If it’s already pre-determined then it’s an exercise in futility — and I hope I’m wrong.”

A rural businessman will accompany Wildrose MLA Rod Fox for Lacombe-Ponoka.

“I think it’s designed to support the government’s assumption to raise taxes. We don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.”

Wildrose MLA Joe Anglin for Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre doesn’t know who is going with him.

“It was going to be a Rimbey town councillor, but he had to cancel. I have calls out to a bunch of people right now. There’s a lot of people who aren’t interested. Cynicism is running high.”

Red Deer North MLA Mary Anne Jablonski and Red Deer South MLA Cal Dallas, both Conservatives, did not return phone calls on Thursday.

The province announced the summit’s schedule Thursday. Four moderated panels will discuss the province’s financial challenges resulting from falling oil revenue. The panels will examine revenue vs. spending, Albertans’ service expectations, the province’s revenue mix and balancing needs and wants for responsible spending.

Panelists include high profile business, academic, non-profit and union leaders from Calgary and Edmonton. Journalists and an economist will serve as moderators.

The guest speaker is Jim Prentice, a former Calgary MP and current CIBC vice-president, who’ll talk about market access.

Albertans can participate on Twitter at #ABSummit. The event will be streamed live online and more information is available online at http://alberta.ca/Economic-Summit.cfm.

The province also invites Albertans to “build your own provincial budget” online at www.budgetchoice.ca.

rfiedler@bprda.wpengine.com

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