We're looking at roughly 220,000 payday lending customers here in Alberta. Thankfully the NDP government here in Alberta has announced new legislation on payday lending. The government is proposing the lowest payday lending rates in the county while simultaneously fostering better alternatives to help people get short-term credit.
Despite my frustration around the outcome of our recent NDP convention, I'm prepared to take Avi Lewis at face value when he says that he didn't expect his Leap Manifesto to be so explosive. And I'd like to try explaining the reaction from many Alberta New Democrats so that Mr. Lewis has a better sense of the road ahead.
At the provincial level, three provinces are led by women, including Premier Rachel Notley in Alberta. Women make up 53 per cent of our province's cabinet ministers. In 2006, it was a mere 11 per cent. So, in a decade, that's progress. Federally, as in Alberta, cabinet is gender-balanced, a move that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau justified with the now oft-quoted "because it's 2015." Yet, in 2016, it must be noted that only 26 per cent of seats in the House of Commons are held by women. So, why is it that the lack of gender parity remains so pronounced in most levels of government across Canada?
We can, moving forward, outline a clear vision of who we are, what we stand for, and what we can truly offer to Canadians... I want to know how we -- New Democrats -- will do better and I want these plans grounded in evidence-based policy reflective of our values. And I want for our members to chart the course of our party, not for what might be popular at the time or what might gain support in the short-term to guide our decisions.
There are times when bounced checks or the penalties for arrears exceed the cost of a payday loan. To end payday lending -- even if it is predatory -- might leave people worse off. What is needed is a better loan, and to get that, we need a better market that re-balances the interests of the lenders and the borrower.
George Clark is pretty easy to laugh off. But when March 8 rolled around, I found myself on the Alberta Legislature grounds with a crowd of a couple hundred overwhelmingly white people gathered for George Clark's glorious revolution. And while it started out as funny, by the time it was over it had gotten a little scary.
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there does seem to be a future for the industry. In fact, if we're not careful, B.C. could be overrun by lobbyists. Last year, there were 2,502 in-house and consultant lobbyists registered in the province, up from 1,451 four years ago. Whoever said the B.C. Jobs Plan wasn't working?
Sweeping demographic changes have drastically changed what was Canada's most conservative province. The cause of these demographic changes has been massive interprovincial and international migration. Conservatives in Alberta are vocal, well-connected and well-funded but they are not the majority. Progressives are.