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Emotion-charged discussion at Lethbridge-East forum

April 3, 2019

Equalization payments, carbon tax, drug crisis, and separation from Canada were some of the topics discussed at the Lethbridge-East forum on Tuesday evening.

Candidates from Lethbridge-East gathered at the Downtown Public Library on Tuesday evening for an all-candidates forum.  Nathan Neudorf (UCP), Maria Fitzpatrick (NDP), Devon Hargreaves (Liberal), and John McCanna (Alberta Independence Party).  

Fitzpatrick and Neudorf were in agreement in rejecting the current equalization formula that makes Alberta taxpayers support other provinces, even during hard times in the energy industry.  However Fitzpatrick took it a step further to point out that Ontario and Quebec are receiving more this year because Stephen Harper and Jason Kenney approved the formula as a way for “trolling for Quebec votes.”

News Director and Anchor, Hal Roberts was part of the media panel.  “So many (small and medium) business owners have a real problem with that carbon tax.” he said to Fitzpatrick “They say it’s killing small businesses.”  Fitzpatrick responded with affirming that climate change is real.  “Since we implemented our climate leadership plan, which included the carbon levy, the emissions in Alberta have been reduced by seven megatons.” she added.  Neudorf was quick to rebut, “Carbon tax has resulted in 183,000 lost jobs.  Maybe all those people not driving to work has had some difference in what the emissions level is."

Liberal candidate Devon Hargreaves said the Liberals’ approach to balancing the financial books would be largely due to slashing the province’s personal income tax and corporate taxes and replacing them with a harmonized sales tax (HST) of 13 percent.  The hot topic of the drug crisis and the supervised consumption site was discussed.  In response to Neudorf’s plan to do research on covering all four “pillars” of response before any more money is spent on the Arches site, Hargreaves said “This is not time to hit ‘Pause’,”  “We need to declare a state of emergency on this issue.”

Alberta Independence Party candidate, John McCanna says his party’s platform includes ending the carbon tax, GST and equalization payments, and allowing First Nations to self-govern.  He says the only way for significant change to happen is for Alberta to leave Canada.  

The forum for Lethbridge-West candidates will be held on Thursday April 4, at the Downtown Public Library.