Opinion by Joe Ceci: Jason Kenney is raising your taxes and hoping you won’t know it’s him

Re: “Rural Alberta RCMP detachments getting 500 new positions,” Dec. 5.

Jason Kenney is raising your taxes and he’s hoping you won’t even know it’s him.

It’s a shocking betrayal of his central campaign promise, and it’s made even worse by his targeting of rural taxpayers.

Doug Schweitzer, the minister of justice, has announced plans to force municipalities to pay for the police officers he promised you by collecting an additional $200 million from communities with populations under 5,000.

The bait-and-switch here is that he promised the province would provide 500 new officers. Instead, municipalities will be paying for 300 and the government of Alberta will offer not one new red cent.

And where will these 300 police officers come from? Can this UCP government even deliver them?

What does that mean for rural Albertans? This will most certainly result in higher property taxes for those communities.

Here we are again. Jason Kenney is asking rural Albertans to pay more, but this time, it’ll be through higher property taxes.

Several town and county councils have already raised the alarm over this new policing funding scheme being imposed on them by the Kenney government.

The councils of Wetaskiwin, Lac La Biche, Lac Ste. Anne, Mountain View, Barrhead, Red Deer, Lacombe, Sundre and others have all written to the government or spoken to their local newspaper to protest.

County and town budgets are already stretched to the limit – that money has to come from somewhere and it’ll most likely be in the form of a tax increase.

And there’s the trick. Jason Kenney gets to maintain his claim that he’s not the one raising your taxes, while at the same time, forcing local councils to do it for him.

The money added to your property tax assessment has actually already been spent. Premier Kenney used it to pay for his $4.7-billion handout to big corporations.

It’s a rural tax grab to benefit the boardrooms of Toronto, straight out of the old PC playbook.

This corporate handout hasn’t created a single new job. November’s 18,000 job losses are the biggest drop in Alberta outside of a recession. We know from their quarterly reports that the corporations who got the most money from Kenney’s handout used this windfall to boost their shareholder dividends and buy back some of their own shares.

The handout has failed to create any jobs, but that $4.7-billion bill still has to be paid – by you.

There’s something fundamentally dishonest about campaigning on a promise not to raise taxes, and then strong-arming local governments to do the dirty work. That is exactly what Jason Kenney has done.

I strongly urge you to contact your local MLA, and ask them if they support a police funding scheme that will force your local council to raise your taxes. If they don’t support it, ask them what they’re going to do about it.

Unless your local MLA speaks up, alongside other government members, you’re going to see Jason Kenney’s tax hike on your next local property notice.

Joe Ceci is the NDP’s municipal affairs critic and MLA for Calgary-Buffalo.

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