Alberta leaders squabble over main election issues in debate
Alberta’s political leaders squared off at CTV Edmonton Thursday night for the provincial election’s lone debate.
The 90-minute debate got off to a fast start, with NDP Leader Rachel Notley and UCP Leader Jason Kenney trading jabs over the economy and pipelines.
“After 10 years in Ottawa, you didn’t get a pipeline built, and so there is truly no reason we should take advice from you on this,” Notley told Kenney.
Alberta Party Leader Stephen Mandel lamented “we’re going nowhere quick” with pipeline construction, while Alberta Liberal Party Leader David Khan questioned Kenney’s tactics on the subject.
“He’s spinning fairytales to get votes.”
Kenney repeatedly went after Notley for being “allies” with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the carbon tax and the province’s $100-billion debt.
“You sold Alberta down the river to your ally Justin Trudeau,” Kenney said. “All we got was his cancellation of Northern Gateway; his killing of energy east; your joint surrender to Obama’s veto of Keystone XL.”
Notley questioned Kenney’s moral leadership and integrity after the homophobic views express by a UCP candidate. She also mentioned the investigations into Jeff Callaway’s kamikaze campaign.
"Many of Mr. Kenney's candidates have views that are demeaning to women, that are white supremacist, that are islamophobic and anti-LGBTQ.
"If Mr. Kenney would cheat his own party members to have a chance at running to be premier, what will he do to the people of this province to keep the job?"
Kenney interrupted Notley when she brought up the RCMP investigation into the Callaway campaign, saying, “Not true, premier; another drive-by smear. This is sad.”
Both Mandel and Khan criticized Notley and Kenney for their attacks on each other during the first two weeks of the campaign.
“It is sad. On the one side, Mr. Kenney’s attacking Ms. Notley, then Ms. Notley’s attacking Mr. Kenney and Mr. Khan is absolving himself of any responsibility of anything. Isn’t this a funny little environment?”
When Khan said he heard Mandel on the radio saying he would consider privatizing parts of Alberta’s health care, the Alberta Party leader said, “Maybe you were smoking things you shouldn’t have been smoking. I don’t know.”
When it came to health care and education, the leaders agreed the province needs to reduce surgery wait times and class sizes, though Kenney said, if elected, he conduct an audit to find out where money spent on class size reduction went. Notley criticized Kenney for his preference to go back to a curriculum “developed before the internet.”
The 2015 debate is often mentioned as a turning point in the election that Notley went on to win, but one analyst does not think this debate was as influential.
"It's clear there was no big knockout punch, no decisive victory, and that benefits Jason Kenney as the frontrunner," Duane Bratt said.
Albertans go to the polls April 16.