EDMONTON — Premier Rachel Notley says Stephen Harper needs to get his head around the fact that Alberta has endorsed the NDP provincially, but she won't trade campaign potshots with the prime minister.
"Whether their federal cousins like it or not, the people of Alberta decided they'd had enough of the Conservative government in this province," Notley told a legislature news conference Thursday.
"I completely reject the Conservative campaign's comments about the decisions of the people of Alberta that they made last spring."
Speaking in French in Montreal Monday, Harper criticized the Alberta NDP for hiking taxes after being elected in the spring while delaying a full budget until the fall.
"It’s a disaster, it’s a disaster, honestly, it has been rejected by the population," Harper said.
The Conservative leader is seeking to break the NDP majority at the federal level in Quebec.
Notley suggested she was surprised by Harper's remarks.
"It is unusual for prime ministers and premiers to attack each other during federal election campaigns," she said, adding she won't be replying in kind.
"I am not going to engage in negative campaigning against other candidates. I don't think that that is helpful.
"I believe that we need to work to try and get along and we need to be able to maintain relationships that allow us to work together."
Notley's response to Harper is in marked contrast to that of Ontario's Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Wynne called for the ouster of Harper on the first day of the campaign, saying Canada needs a federal government that will work with the provinces.
Notley said she supports the federal NDP and Leader Thomas Mulcair and now has a sign on her lawn endorsing her riding's incumbent, New Democrat Linda Duncan.
"I think that people are very excited about the record of Tom Mulcair," said Notley, adding she may show up at some party rallies, but won't work federally beyond that.
"My activity will be quite limited overall," she said.
Notley's NDP unseated a four-decade Progressive Conservative dynasty in May on a platform to hike taxes on wealthy individuals and profitable corporations. The party promised to roll back a $1-billion cut to health-care spending and cancel a health-care levy proposed by former premier Jim Prentice.
Notley's team has since boosted the corporate tax rate to 12 per cent from 10 per cent and hiked income taxes on a progressive scale on anyone making more than $125,000 a year.
Notley said Alberta "continues to have, by far, the lowest overall provincial taxes in Canada," noting her jurisdiction doesn't have a provincial sales tax.
Prentice proposed a budget in the spring but did not pass it before the election.
Notley will now use her majority government to pass a new budget in October, saying the PC spending plan had to be fundamentally reworked to conform with objectives promised by her party.
She also said the long, 78-day campaign launched by Harper is "a problem" for her government as it works to get things done on joint files such as health care and flood prevention.
"I don't know that good public policy was necessarily one of the priorities that drove that decision," she said.ection campaign.
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