Hello Chestermere! I am writing to you from Doha in transit to come home from India. I have never appreciated my home more than I do when I have the privilege to travel abroad. As I sit here in this exquisite airport with thousands of others, waiting to fly in these beasts called airplanes that, with the science of physics and our incredible resources, lifts hundreds of us, our luggage, animals, packages and other paraphernalia off the ground and carry us across vast oceans to our homes across the world. I feel so fortunate that this is even a possibility and no matter how many times I travel, no matter the size of the airplane, I marvel at the ingenuity that allows us this privilege.
I hope you are ready for an exciting couple of months with the election just around the corner. We will be out at your doors seeking your support and chatting about what is important to you. As a party, the UCP is preparing their candidates and we are all hopeful that you will privilege us with the opportunity to help our province turn our economy and our morale around with your vote and your trust. I still remember when the NDP won, and in fact, it shocked me even more than my own win. We saw an entire new crop of MLAs (myself included) who lacked political experience, and felt the effects of learning the ropes under the pressure of a firehose. When I look back on it now, it fills my heart with such joy to know that you entrusted a green but passionate person to represent you, and I look forward to the chance of representing you again in the new riding of Chestermere-Strathmore. I find it very interesting that the NDP has only had 2 contested nominations up until this point.
So lets talk a little about some of the numbers the NDP is putting out. We keep hearing from them that we are seeing an economic recovery. I sure wish I could agree but unfortunately the facts say otherwise. A January 10 column by Chris Nelson in the Calgary Herald is worth reading ( https://calgaryherald.com/opinion/columnists/nelson-albertas-economic-recovery-brings-little-respite ). Titled “There’s little to cheer in Alberta’s so-called ‘recovery’ “, he points out that over all of 2018 the Province gained a paltry 21,600 jobs, an increase of less than 1%. Employment in construction, farming, and oil and gas actually went down. The December provincial unemployment rate rose to 6.4 percent. It is important to remember that the “unemployment rate” does not count the self employed people with no work or those who have given up looking. Falling house prices and a dramatic rise in personal insolvencies (up 16 % in Alberta in 2018, the highest rise in the country) also belie the NDP Government spin and their very expensive taxpayer funded TV ad campaign. How do we intend to recover when it is our own Governments handcuffing us in our ability to get our resources to the coast to participate in the global market and the rising need for our resources world wide? I do not understand the ideology behind Canada allowing the United States eco activist funded groups to lead the conversations around our natural resources. It truly is a conundrum, and a nightmare for so many Albertans and Canadians.
Did you see our Prime Minister at a recent town hall, not answer a young lady’s question about why he attacked our oilfield and construction workers? She was a construction worker. He did not answer the question, nor did he apologize for attacking the incredible Canadians who work far away from home for months at a time to responsibly bring our resources out of the ground so we can have the quality of life that we do. Shame on him, and shame on our Premier for not standing up for the hard working men and women that fund the very Government she is privileged to run.
Did you know that our problems with resource development and how the NDP has “red-taped” our industry to death here is having an impact on the Canadian economy? It has impacted investment, trust, the market, the market signals, transparency and every other fundamental need that a company requires in its business case when it is looking where to invest. We see rig counts down, and our winter drilling season, usually our busiest, is now seeing just under 200 rigs active. This is some of the lowest activity in decades according to economist and executive director of Arc Energy Research, Peter Tertzakian. Every day it seems another Alberta energy service company is moving most of its equipment south to the US, along with the highly skilled, highly paid people that should be here and would be here if our economy was not being strangled.
On a sad note, Gene Zwozdesky, a former Speaker of the Alberta Legislature and a pillar of Alberta’s Ukrainian community, died recently at 70. He was also well known as a musician, dancer, and hockey referee and will be sorely missed. My heart goes out to his wife, his children and his grandchildren. Also Peter Watts is in an induced coma and not expected to survive. You may know him as the host of the Alberta Morning news on CHQR, from TSN, from the many amateur sporting events he broadcast, or from his many volunteer efforts. I met him in the backlot of the Century Downs racetrack when he arrived to do a story. It was obvious that he loved people, loved the many ways they make a living, and loved introducing them to his audience. The outpouring of prayers and best wishes from hundreds of people in all walks of life is a tribute to him and I also hope and pray he can recover.
As always, I love to hear from you. Your voice matters.