By Lethbridge Herald Opinon on October 23, 2020.
I have to say I wasn’t quite ready for the snow to fly yet! After a few weeks of wonderful fall weather, which Lethbridge’s wonderful tree-lined streets augmented with a dazzling – if short-lived – display of colours, I must admit that the season of backyard harvests and comfortable park visits is drawing to a close. Despite the turn in weather, I know that our neighbours will continue to find ways to enjoy our neighbourhoods in new, safe ways as we all confront what will surely be a challenging winter.
While our province continues to be challenged by the public health effects of the pandemic that we’ve all been fighting over the last several months, there can be >no doubt that our province is also facing down a cold economic winter as well. As low resource prices, the economic ramifications of the pandemic and a sluggish global economy have wreaked havoc on jobs in our province, Albertans need a government that is on their side, and that has their backs. Further, they need a premier with a clear vision for the future – a premier who knows we need to do something different this time if we want long-term prosperity for our province. >
Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case. As the Legislature has returned this fall, we are hearing more of the same from the Kenney government. More cuts to health care during a pandemic. More auspicious signalling for our post-secondary institutions when we need to train and retrain the most. And more threats to the quality of our kids’ education. What we aren’t hearing from the premier is something our province desperately needs: a robust plan to get us out of this cycle of boom-and-bust once and for all, and a promise not to make things worse by laying off or cutting the wages of public-sector workers who are helping to pull us all through these challenging times. >
The contrast between this premier, and his ideological approach to the concurrent crises that are hurting the working people of this province, and the alternative could not be clearer. While Jason Kenney and his ministers deliver nothing but bad news, broken promises and higher taxes to southern Albertans, I’m proud to be a part of Rachel Notley’s team. While Premier Kenney doubles down on failed experiments with corporate tax giveaways, Rachel and our team are actively seeking input from Albertans on what they want to see from the future of their province. >
Just like so many Albertans, we understand that the answers to today’s questions can’t come from the failures of yesterday’s answers. That’s why, even though times feel incredibly dark right now, I’m excited by the potential of Albertans if we’re just given a little headstart from our government to jumpstart our province’s road to recovery. I know that the answers to the jobs crisis won’t come from cutting taxes on already-profitable companies, and they won’t come from laying off health-care workers or staff at our colleges and universities. The answers will come from Albertans – who have shown themselves time and time again to be innovative, forward-looking and ready to solve the problems facing all of us. As Rachel likes to say: Alberta’s most important resource isn’t below the ground, but what walks on the ground. >
As our caucus continues reaching out to Albertans to hear from them about the future of our province, I’m already inspired and excited by the suggestions we’re hearing, especially as the MLA for Lethbridge-West. Albertans across the province are talking about so many of the things that we as southern Albertans already know: they’re talking about the need to be a hub for innovation advances, for post-secondary learning. They’re talking about finding new ways to harvest our generations of knowledge in vital industries like agriculture and energy. And they’re talking about how we unlock the vast potential of our Indigenous neighbours while reconciling for our shared past. >
I know for a fact that the residents of Lethbridge already understand these things, and it affirms to me that our city and region will be vital to the success of our province moving forward. Further, I’m hearing from residents of Lethbridge that they are ready for a premier and a government that takes these things seriously and offers new avenues rather than roadblocks to our ambitions, and that we deserve a government that puts us at the front of the global race rather than holding our kids back with outdated, parochial models of education. >
While the strength and ingenuity of southern Albertans gives me a lot of hope, I know that there is a long fight ahead of us to protect our services and jobs in the face of a government that values neither. I am privileged to represent Lethbridge in that fight and want to hear from you about the challenges you’re experiencing, or where you think our province should be focusing during this crucial time in our province’s history.
You can reach my office by emailing email@example.com, or by calling 403-329-4644.
Shannon Phillips is the NDP MLA for Lethbridge West. Her column appears monthly.