Danielle Smith’s latest impulse puts off opportunity in Alberta for a generation

As the Legislature reconvenes, let’s offer something better.

The story of Alberta has always been a story of opportunity.

Generations have come here in pursuit of a good education, great jobs, and the chance to build the life they want – for themselves and future generations – in a place where you can be who you want.

I believe in that story. It’s why my parents moved here, and it’s why I chose to live here. It’s why I am running to be leader of Alberta’s NDP, and it’s why I want to serve as the next Premier of this province. I want to do what I can to ensure Alberta is a place of opportunity for all of us and all of our children for years to come.

Last week, Danielle Smith took direct aim at that promise of opportunity when she spoke to Albertans in a primetime address. She announced a long-term plan to intentionally not keep up with population growth and inflation. Per student funding in our K-12 system, already the lowest of any province after years of starvation will go even lower. Health care, already suffering from unsustainably long waits for patients, unsustainably long hours for health care professionals and needless scarcity in Canada’s richest province, will get worse. Roads will get worse. Parks will get worse. Even the tax cut she promised disappears.

The goal of Smith’s scarcity is to build a fund from which Albertans can benefit from 2050 onward. But the consequence of doing this at the expense of the services and infrastructure we all rely on now is that an entire generation will be robbed of the Alberta advantage.

Our children can’t wait until 2050 to get a good education. Our parents can’t wait until 2050 to get an MRI. As it has with its renewables ban and resistance to climate action, Danielle Smith’s government continues to make bets on the future it wants rather than the present we need.

It doesn’t need to be this way.

In the face of Smith’s broken promises and fiscal starvation, Albertans will be looking for new options. Let’s make sure, as Alberta New Democrats, we are ready when they come looking.

Doing so will take new thinking, big ideas, and a willingness to include Albertans from all walks of life – including those who do not always see themselves as naturally aligned with our party. It will require us to live the best of our Alberta NDP values – compassion, inclusion, ingenuity, and practicality. It will also require honest reflection about where we’ve succeeded and where we’ve fallen short.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing my ideas for how the Alberta NDP, working with all Albertans, can be the party of opportunity for all.

Opportunity comes from a great economy.
Alberta is a place of innovation and ingenuity, and the economic prosperity we’ve enjoyed has opened countless doors. We can drive investments and build a booming economy that delivers the quality of life Albertans deserve.

Opportunity comes from great public education.
Education provides us with the tools needed to thrive today and adapt to tomorrow, whatever tomorrow brings.

Last week, I began releasing my ideas for education. Danielle Smith and the UCP have brought Alberta to the lowest funding levels in Canada. I aim for us to be #1 in education investment and to support programs like full-day Kindergarten, expanded school lunch programs, and full opportunities for students with disabilities. There is no greater generator of opportunity than education and no greater investment a government can make.

Opportunity comes from great public health care.
A strong public healthcare system supports us through some of life’s biggest moments. It keeps doors open that would otherwise close. It helps us and our loved ones live longer, healthier, happier lives.

Opportunity comes from great social support.
Community supports like AISH, and Income Support are investments in people that allow us to reach our full potential. All Albertans must be supported, funded, and given care and attention.

Opportunity comes from our environment.
Clean and reliable water, strong action on climate change and protected areas all support our high quality of life and ensure future generations can also find opportunities here. They are the foundation on which everything else is built.

Opportunity comes from affordability.
Attainable housing, inexpensive insurance and low-cost food, utilities and transportation mean more money left for your goals – anything from starting a business to getting a degree to support your family.

As Alberta New Democrats, we have the power to tell a story about Alberta that reflects who we are: a big story, a hopeful story, a story that unites us. We can offer a great start to our kids, open doors for individuals and businesses, shield ourselves from the unpredictable, and help each other when we stumble or fall ill.

I believe no matter where you’re from, how long you’ve been here, what challenges you face or what means you have – you have a place in Alberta’s story. In Alberta, everybody should have the opportunity to succeed, whatever success means for you. In Alberta, we don’t defer opportunity for 25 years.

I’m running for leader to champion an Alberta NDP that acts as that party of opportunity.

More opportunity.

Better opportunity.

Equal access to opportunity.

Opportunity for all of us – now, not later.

The return of the Legislature gives us an opportunity to tell that story. I hope you’ll join me. Together, let’s write the next chapter in Alberta’s story.