CALGARY — Premier Rachel Notley says Opposition Leader Jason Kenney is pitching policies so advantageous to the rich and so punishing to the poor that he must think Robin Hood is a terrifying cautionary tale.
“It’s quite ironic. It’s quite rich,” Notley said in Calgary on Thursday.
“You’ve got Jason Kenney releasing a policy platform that would suggest that we take $700 million to $800 million (and) give them back to the richest Albertans at the same time that he’s bemoaning protecting the basic wages of the most vulnerable.
“I swear to God, if Jason Kenney was in the theatre 40 years ago watching ‘Robin Hood’ he was the only kid there that actually thought it was a scary movie.”
Kenney’s new United Conservative Party is hashing out its policy platform. It has released preliminary ideas that include ending Alberta’s progressive income tax, brought in by Notley’s NDP in 2015, and returning to the 10 per cent flat tax of the former Progressive Conservative government.
Under current rules, anyone making less than $126,000 a year pays the 10 per cent. The rate goes up progressively on higher incomes.
Kenney’s team stressed that nothing is set in stone.
“Jason has committed from Day 1 to grassroots policy development, and feedback on the discussion document drafted by the policy committee is the first phase,” said United Conservative spokeswoman Annie Dormuth in an emailed statement.
“Members are currently sharing their feedback with the document, and the leader is letting that process play out.”
Notley made the comments as she weighed in on media stories in Calgary about the viability of restaurants.
Some owners are shutting their doors and blaming NDP policies such as a minimum wage increase and changes to statutory holiday pay.
Notley said food service is a traditionally volatile industry and that, overall, restaurant openings are up, sales receipts are up and restaurant employment is growing.
“Globally, we’re seeing growth in that particular industry as well as generally amongst small businesses and retail sectors that are impacted by minimum wage,” said Notley.
Under her government, Alberta has raised Alberta’s minimum wage every year — from $10.20 an hour in 2015 to the current level of $13.60. It is to increase to $15 this fall.
Notley also said she questions any restaurant that serves high-end food while fighting a fair wage to staff who may otherwise have to rely on charity to make ends meet.