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RED DEER OUT
RED DEER, Alta. Jan. 17, 2016/ Troy Media/ – Canadian tycoon Kevin O’Leary’s offer to invest a million bucks in Alberta’s energy industry – if Premier Rachel Notley steps down – is pure theatre. Does he really expect anyone to take this seriously?
So what’s with the bombast?
It appears O’Leary has political ambitions. He told CBC News, the network that hired him for Dragon’s Den and The Lang & O’Leary Exchange, that he wouldn’t mind taking a page or two from Donald Trump’s playbook.
O’Leary is toying with running for the federal Conservative Party leadership. “I thought at some point, someone is going to say to me, if you can be such a critic, why don’t you do better? Why don’t you try it?” he told CBC. “I thought to myself, hmmm, maybe I should.”
Note that he didn’t claim – as politicians often do – that there’s a groundswell of demand for his leadership. But you have to start somewhere — maybe support will follow the idea, as it has in the U.S. for Trump.
Attacking a popular premier only recently elected seems a strange way to build a national consensus.
Canada’s previous Tory leader, Stephen Harper, was known for his cool relationships with provincial leaders. Danny Williams of Newfoundland and Labrador, and Kathleen Wynne in Ontario come to mind. Harper’s relationship with Notley did not begin well either, but it didn’t have time to mature.
All in all, how did that work for Harper?
But never mind, O’Leary is new to politics, a place where you can’t buy every agreement and where simply walking away when you can’t isn’t an option.
Everyone knows it’s difficult to govern – all the more so when one has inherited a financial crisis. Moving forward requires compromises to build consensus for decisions that will require sacrifice.
Bombast, disrespect and blame do not build consensus.
O’Leary says in Alberta he would “put his cards on the table” with the current review on provincial royalties. But the industry is being closely consulted during the review process and promises have been made not to make any sudden changes. An Alberta perspective on what’s fair (including acknowledging current problems) ought to be transparent enough, until the final report is made public.
O’Leary said he would cut corporate taxes in Alberta, not raise them to match other provinces. He would “cut a deal” with companies to maintain jobs (are we talking tax-subsidized wages in the oilpatch here?) and he would run deficit budgets to do it.
A perception of the previous Alberta government getting too friendly with business is partly what got the NDP elected in the first place.
O’Leary further claimed that Notley isn’t qualified to “manage Canada’s No. 1 resource.” If he meant the energy industry, managing that isn’t her job. Besides, we’ve repeatedly been told that our chief resource is our people, not tight gas and bitumen reserves.
Governments do steal opposition ideas, though some make more sense than others.
The Wildrose claims authorship of last week’s wage freeze for about 7,000 non-unionized Alberta government workers. They were due to get a 2.5 per cent increase in April on salaries that range from $110,000 to $287,000 a year. Grid advancement will also be banned, saving taxpayers about $57 million over two years, according to reports.
But that idea came long before the birth of Wildrose, with former PC governments freezing wages, unfreezing them months later, then promising to re-freeze them, claiming strong leadership each time, in each direction.
Like our current recession, this freeze will also thaw. In the meantime, we need to gather people together, not pull them apart. Canada doesn’t need a Trump clone, nor any would-be politician who seeks to create enemies.
Greg Neiman is a freelance editor, columnist and blogger living in Red Deer, Alta. Greg is also included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.
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