CALGARY — Jason Kenney, running to be Alberta’s next premier, is lunching on a salad at the Blackfoot Diner, a popular truck stop eatery just outside Calgary’s downtown, but offering red-meat economic policy proposals to his base in historically conservative Alberta.
While the province’s demographics and leanings are changing, and some of his United Conservative Party’s social policy proposals have met with staunch opposition and protests, his core economic promises of reducing corporate taxes, eliminating carbon taxes, and reducing regulatory timelines to encourage new investment are finding some currency as the economy sputters.
He is no ideologue, he says, highlighting that he agrees with his rivals in the NDP on “the strategic importance” of petrochemical diversification and he doesn’t want to “upset the apple cart” of gas-to-plastics projects in the province.
“I think we’ve demonstrated in my support for the federal acquisition of (the Trans Mountain pipeline) and oil curtailment that we aren’t going to be taking some kind narrowly rigid, ideological position on these questions,” Kenney said. “We’re prepared to be pragmatic.”
Kenney, 50, and Rachel Notley, the NDP’s popular 54-year-old leader running for a second term, agree on little else. Edmonton-born Notley’s economic platform is focused on “a more directed, strategic approach” to investments and infrastructure in the province, centred on expanding the petrochemical subsidy program.