POLITICS

Alberta NDP platform takes page from former PC premier Peter Lougheed

04/19/2015 07:06 EDT | Updated 07/09/2015 05:59 EDT
EDMONTON - Alberta NDP Leader Rachel Notley took a page from former Tory premier Peter Lougheed when she unveiled her party's election campaign platform in Edmonton on Sunday.

Notley said corporations that did well during the boom should be expected to shoulder more of the burden during lean times.

She said Premier Jim Prentice calls that extremist, but notes that Lougheed also supported a corporate tax increase.

Notley admitted she may have felt a bit odd at first to be agreeing with Lougheed, since her late father, Grant Notley, was NDP leader when Lougheed was premier.

"I might have originally, given my dad's historic relationship. But you know what? He had some pretty good ideas," Notley said about Lougheed.

"Some of those ideas were, in order to wean ourselves off the oil revenue roller coaster, we needed to start looking at asking corporations to pay a bit more."

She says 90 per cent of Albertans would pay less in taxes with the NDP platform than the PC plan, and she promised not to introduce a sales tax.

The platform also promises to reverse the PC government's cuts to health care and education, and introduce a job creation tax credit that would rebate 10 per cent of the wages paid to new employees.

The provincial budget, the platform pledges, would be balanced by 2017.

Opposition parties have been trending up and the Tories trending down in opinion polls, with the NDP, the Wildrose and the Tories meeting in the middle.

Party supporters who were on hand at the platform launch said they believed the reason for their party's apparent rise was that voters are tired of the 44-year-old Tory government.

"The premier says, 'Look in the mirror.' People went and looked in the mirror and all they saw was PC for 40 years," said supporter Rob Odokki, referring to Prentice's remarks in March in which critics accused him of blaming Albertans for the current economic problems.

Supporter Colleen Chapman said that while the boom years were a boost for many people, others in her central Edmonton constituency suffered, noting she knows people working several jobs just to pay bills.

Susan Dut, meanwhile, said the government's cuts to education and health were issues that are motivating opposition.

"I feel like for me, it's hitting a lot more close to home now," Dut said.

The NDP platform promises to eliminate the health levy announced in the recent budget and create 2,000 new longterm care beds. A re-introduction of a progressive income tax also means citizens making more than $125,000 will be asked to pay a little more, the platform says.

The party also promises to ban corporate and union donations to political parties, and review of Alberta's royalties and tax incentives.

Notley refuted claims that hiking corporate taxes would hurt the economy, noting she's talked to people in the business community who say it's only one factor.

"Jim Prentice's plan is the one that's going to exacerbate the problems. Jim Prentice is planning to take a billion dollars out of our health care. That's going to hurt our economy. He's planning to starve our school system. That's going to hurt our economy," Notley said.