Alberta left behind in Throne Speech, Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins says

Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins, alongside Red Deer-Mountainview MP Earl Dreeshen, announces his private member's bill, C-458, at a Markerville-area farm in Red Deer County on Saturday, June 15, 2019. Ashli Barrett / Lacombe Globe

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Despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau saying he heard Albertans on election night, Red Deer-Lacombe’s Conservative MP Blaine Calkins says Alberta was left behind in Thursday’s Speech from the Throne.

Read by Gov. Gen. Julie Payette to open the 43rd Parliament, the Speech of the Throne outlines the Liberal minority government’s priorities for the upcoming session of parliament. The first mention of policy went to climate change, claiming with their re-election, the majority of Canadians voted for “ambitious climate action now,” as well as touching on Indigenous reconciliation and healing regional divides.

Calkins, however, said the Liberal pledge to work collaboratively with other parties will do nothing to bring the country together, nor address Albertans’ concerns.

“Today’s Speech from the Throne will give no relief to Albertans. While the Liberals injected the speech with lip service about listening to regional concerns, they also made it clear they will be pressing forward with the policies that are most destructive to the Albertan economy – policies like the mandatory carbon tax and the phasing out of our energy industry,” Calkins said in a release. “The course laid out by the Liberals today will do nothing to heal the regional divides.”

The speech reaffirmed the Liberals specific climate-related goals, including the legislated target of reaching net-zero carbon emissions by  2050, a carbon tax “everywhere in this country,” as well as follow through on their campaign commitment to further reduce plastic pollution, plant two billion trees and help people displaced by climate disasters.

One sentence referred to the challenges of the energy sector.

“While the government takes strong action to fight climate change, it will also work just as hard to get Canadian resources to new markets, and offer unwavering support to the hardworking women and men in Canada’s natural resources sectors, many of whom have faced tough times recently,” Payette read.

The speech also included a promise from the Liberals to toughen gun control through banning of assault-style rifles and introduction of buy-back program, which Calkins, a gun owner and hunter himself, also slammed, saying it was clear they didn’t understand how to keep communities safe.

“They are abandoning evidence-based decision making when it comes to crime and gun violence and instead are choosing to move forward with forced confiscation of people’s property,” he said. “The Liberals should be targeting criminals by fixing our justice system by ensuring that prison time is meaningful, instead of focusing on law-abiding hunters, farmers, and sport shooters’ firearms.”

The speech said the Liberals first act would be a middle-class tax cut. They said they will also endeavour to make housing more affordable, cut wireless service costs by 25 per cent, increase the child benefit, and lower interest rates on student loans, as well as increase the minimum wage at the federal level.

Calkins said the Liberals affordability measures for people across the country would come with a cost Albertans wouldn’t be able to afford.

“The last time the Liberals put forward a so-called middle-class tax cut, 80 per cent of middle-class families ended up paying more tax. At a time when Albertans are struggling to get by, we need concrete plans to make life more affordable. Instead we heard about big plans that will come with an equally big price tag that we cannot afford,” he said.

Other measures included a pledge to ratify the new NAFTA deal, keep supply management, while working to alleviate trade barriers. They will continue to push for a seat on the UN Security Council.

They said they would also work on steps to implement national pharmacare, improve mental supports for veterans and create a National Action Plan on gender-base violence.

The throne speech also made specific commitments for Indigenous peoples, including the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, working on Indigenous self-governance, and continued efforts to eliminate drinking water advisories by 2021.

Calkins said he will continue to stand up for his constituents.

“I and my Conservative colleagues will fight every step of the way to put more money in the pockets of regular, every day, hard-working Canadian families so they can get ahead,” he said.

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