Just over three months ago, on July 22, the members of the legacy Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties voted overwhelmingly in favour of one united conservative movement in Alberta. Since then, the United Conservative Caucus team has been hard at work defending the interests of everyday Albertans and holding the NDP to account for their mismanagement of everything from our provincial finances to our health care system. With just under a week left in my tenure as Interim Leader of the Party, I couldn’t be more proud of this team or hopeful for the future of our conservative movement.
Over the past three months, I have travelled from one corner of our province to the other. I have met thousands of Albertans and one theme that consistently comes up is how hard the NDP has made life for everyday Albertans. As a direct result of this government’s policies, Alberta entrepreneurs are struggling to stay afloat and keep people employed.
These are honest, hardworking Albertans who, contrary to government narratives, have no problem paying their fair share, yet the mountain of extra costs heaped onto them through taxes and regulation over the past two years is threatening their viability.
This is why we have been working so hard to hold the NDP accountable for the choices they are making. Because this is about more than statistics. This is about people’s jobs. It’s their dreams. It’s their hope for the future and the future of their children and grandchildren.
This is why we take our job as Alberta’s Official Opposition so seriously. There’s simply too much at stake.
We have seen the result of government inaction when it really counts. Unfortunately the NDP government is only content to support pipeline projects vocally when it benefits them. Energy East died this summer in large part due to the Trudeau Liberals changing the rules of the game part way through, and with little said by the government here in Alberta.
In the United Conservative Caucus, we recognize the crucial role our oil and gas sector plays in our economy. That’s why this summer we launched the Buy Alberta Oil campaign, to great success. We know that our oil and gas products are of the highest quality, and are key to the economic success of not just Alberta, but all of Confederation. It’s about time the Premier realized the same.
We have also worked hard to expose NDP mismanagement wherever it occurs. Whether it’s our health care system, our finances or the destruction of over three-quarters of a million government records, the UCP caucus has cut through the government spin and rhetoric to bring the truth to Albertans.
Just last week, we were able to shine a light on the deterioration of key performance metrics in our healthcare system, which have been steadily declining under the NDP despite significant funding increases. In fact, Alberta spends 20 per cent more per person on health care than our neighbours in British Columbia – and we’re not getting better results.
These cold, hard facts fly in the face of NDP fearmongering when it comes to spending. It’s clear that throwing more money at the problem is not helping, and that there is room to find efficiencies and overhaul expensive, bureaucratic processes without impacting front line services.
Make no mistake, the New Democrats are afraid of our united movement. They know that, when provided with a common sense option, Albertans will abandon the NDP and their ideological agenda that has brought us higher taxes including the carbon tax, more than $70 billion in debt by 2019, billions in lost investment and tens of thousands of jobs lost.
It has been an incredible honour to lead the United Conservatives through this interim period. From the very beginning, I said that my job was not to move this new party to the left or to the right, but rather to build it up. As we prepare to welcome our new leader this weekend, I believe that I and our caucus team have done just that.
Nathan Cooper is Interim Leader of the United Conservative Party.