Leader debate skipped key topics, says Alberta Party leader

Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor says the televised election debate that excluded his participation also left out key topics of interest to Albertans.

Alberta Party leader Glenn Taylor says the televised election debate that excluded his participation also left out key topics of interest to Albertans.

“They forgot to address the most important issues Albertans are asking about, like where are the billion dollars going to come from,” said Taylor — to pay for all the election promises other leaders are making?

“They also didn’t talk enough about the oilsands, which is the key driver of Alberta’s economy,” he added.

Taylor, who spoke to media Friday morning at a Red Deer restaurant, didn’t let his exclusion from Thursday’s televised leadership debate stop him from addressing Albertans.

He was blogging during the debate and also taking questions in live time from some of the 1,700 Albertans who had logged on to his www.albertaparty.ca website. Taylor’s answers can be viewed on YouTube.

The Alberta Party leader accused his competitors of speaking about building new hospitals and schools and doling out rebates to each Albertan without explaining how they were planning to pay for this.

The Progressive Conservative government recently passed a $41 billion budget, and according to Taylor’s calculations, all the election promises would increase spending by 70 per cent. “It does not add up.”

The Alberta Party doesn’t propose building any new hospitals, but rather wants to take an inventory of existing hospital space to maximize usage. Taylor believes hospital beds could be freed up with more preventative health care education, more wide-ranging home care programs that include housekeeping and meal preparation, and better seniors’ housing options.

Too many older couples are still being split up because they require different levels of care, he added.

The Alberta Party leader believes some new schools might be needed to keep up with Alberta’s growing population. But he wants old and new schools to be modelled as multi-purpose centres that can be used for seniors groups, pre-school nurseries, and as community gymnasiums or auditoriums during off-school hours.

To achieve this, school boards need to have closer ties with municipalities and community organizations, said Taylor, who also advocates for “stable, predictable” education funding

As for Alberta’s energy industry, he proposes refining more bitumen from the oilsands within the province, or even Eastern Canada, rather than the U.S. “I think we could upgrade bitumen in different areas, not all in the industrial sites north of Edmonton.”

Taylor supports installing new pipelines that transport oilsands bitumen “in an environmentally responsible manner.” But he also wants lower limits on greenhouse gases to be set and enforced by government. “Energy and the environment are two sides of the same thing.”

When questioned about MLAs’ pay, Taylor said he would remove the tax-free portion and implement a rule about “not being able to vote yourself a pay raise.” Once a new pay structure is approved, he believes it should not take affect until after the next election.

lmichelin@bprda.wpengine.com

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