I’m happy that Canadians are having a good debate about infrastructure, and not whether it’s important but more how we’re going to pay for it.
When we look at cutting people’s commute – like that word infrastructure is boring. Who knows what that means? But what it really means is we got to cut people’s commutes, we got to reduce congestion. Congestion costs the economy tens of billions of dollars a year to have people just stuck in traffic and non-productive time. So we got to fix that. And the best way to do that is invest in transit. And – so I’m happy that all three of the main parties seem to agree that investing in transit is important.
I’ll tell you that the dog whistle politics is badly missing the mark. Because, you know, as I’ve been speaking about it, sure, I’ve got some racists who come and complain about it. That happens. Right? But I have been absolutely overwhelmed – absolutely overwhelmed – by the number of everyday people who have contacted me with one simple question: what can I do to help?
But of course in my world nothing is political. And everything’s about policy and governance. And maybe a bit of politics.
You know, even in the economic downturn in Alberta, there are restaurants in Calgary, and even in Canmore up the mountain, that cannot open for lunch because they cannot find staff. And they cannot find staff because there’s nowhere for those people to live. And so safe and decent housing, market housing, subsidized housing, the whole bit, we really, really need to have our heads on straight on this, and we don’t yet.
We still need to hear more about things like water and wastewater infrastructure and community infrastructure, like local rinks and libraries. But at least we’re much further on that debate than we were in the last federal election.
You know, the key issue is that city issues are not to be put in a box and say well, that’s what the mayor wants. They’re Canadian issues. Cities account for 75 percent of our GDP. If you don’t have a plan for cities, it means you don’t have a plan for the economy.
I don’t believe that the economy has changed people’s thinking politically in Alberta. However, obviously we elected a brand new government for the first time, some people say, in 44 years. It’s actually the first time in over 70 years, because the previous government, prior to the PCs, was really just PCs with a different name. And I think what that did, it doesn’t suddenly mean that Tom Mulcair is going to win a whack of seats here in Alberta, but I think it did open Albertans’ eyes to the fact that, you know, something different is possible and we can do something different.
All three of the leaders looked like they were surprised to be asked about housing. And really none of them had anything interesting to say. And so this is something we need to push hard on to ensure that they understand that our housing crisis is really a major economic issue. It’s not a social issue; it’s an economic issue.
I’m not shy about stating my opinion on political issues, so I can state my opinion, which is, on this one, Premier Notley’s right. Because cap and trade systems have not been shown to work. And if you want to price carbon, then I would listen to the CEO of Suncor, who suggests a clean, transparent carbon tax makes a bunch more sense than a cap and trade system that just creates jobs for traders. I – I kind of agree with that.
I was really happy in the Globe and – in the Globe and Mail debate, which was on the economy, that there were questions about infrastructure, about immigration, about housing. These things have often been seen as municipal issues, but they truly are pan-Canadian issues. Now, I’m not saying I’m happy with all the answers, but I’m happy that at least we’re talking about them.
I think it’s a good thing that we can have relatively non-partisan political conversations because I don’t think that my premier necessarily should agree with everything the federal NDP says. I don’t think she should disagree with everything the federal Conservatives say. I think that Albertans and Canadians as a whole, as I always say, are looking for pragmatic politicians with pragmatic solutions to their problems, and they want the best ideas to move forward, regardless of who has that idea.