Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Calgary Confederation.
The motion that kicked off this debate refers to job losses in the energy sector, but that does not quite do justice to the whole issue. Alberta is not just facing job losses, it is facing a jobs crisis. That crisis is the result of bad decisions by governments and the impacts are visible across many sectors of the economy.
Here are the simple facts. The unemployment rate in Alberta is running at 8.5%, more than double what it was two years ago. Alberta has lost one-fifth of its natural resource jobs, but also one-fifth of its agriculture jobs, and one-quarter of its manufacturing jobs. The impact of Alberta's challenges can be felt across the country. Families in other parts of Canada who could once rely on the support of family members in the energy sector no longer can. Those jobs linked to the energy sector throughout the country are affected as well.
There are many factors propelling the jobs crisis we face in Alberta. Obviously oil prices are a part of it, but there have been hard times in our province before. Low oil prices alone have meant a temporary lull, but have also meant that companies could position themselves and make investments for the next step.
Unfortunately, when investors do not have confidence in a turnaround because of bad government policy, they do not make those investments in good times or in bad. Albertans have been through tough times before, but they are getting pounded by bad government policy, which is killing jobs and discouraging investment. This jobs crisis did not have to happen and it does not have to continue.
Let me identify eight policy decisions of the federal government that are killing jobs in Alberta and I have a modest proposal tonight. How about the Liberals reverse just one of them? Here are eight policy decisions that the government took and perhaps there are more, but eight that I would identify.
Immediately upon taking office, Liberals brought in a tanker ban off northern British Columbia. This cut off exports. Apparently tankers with oil from Alaska are fine, tankers with foreign oil in the St. Lawrence are fine, but no tankers with Canadian oil coming off northern B.C. That was a decision that killed jobs in Alberta and across the country.
Number two, they withdrew support for vital energy infrastructure. They killed the northern gateway pipeline. They have failed to advocate for Keystone. They have failed to stand and support energy east, killing jobs in Alberta and across the country.
Number three, they promised in their platform a cut to small business taxes that would align with what all the other parties were proposing. They broke that promise. The then minister told us there would be some surprises in the federal budget. Yes, there were some surprises. That decision to effectively raise taxes on small business killed jobs in Alberta and across the country.
Number four, they eliminated the hiring credit for small business. This was another surprise in that federal budget. The elimination of the hiring credit made it harder for people to get jobs. That is killing jobs in Alberta and across the country.
Number five, they brought in a CPP expansion payroll tax increase. This is the tax on employing people. If we want to kill jobs, we introduce a higher tax on jobs. Policy decisions of the government are killing jobs in Alberta and across the country.
Number six is their policy on the carbon tax. We know the impact in Alberta killing jobs there and across the country.
Number seven is the overall climate of fiscal instability that they have created.
Number eight is the failure of the equalization formula to update itself.
These are eight policy decisions of the government it did not have to make that are killing jobs in Alberta and across the country.
Please, Mr. Speaker, let them reverse at least one of those terrible decisions tonight.
As I conclude, I want to speak briefly about the kind of society we are in Alberta. There is one thing that defines Alberta's political culture more than anywhere else and that is our radical optimism. In the world today for understandable reasons, the word “populism” has a negative connotation, but the tradition of prairie populism is something entirely different. It is the philosophy that something new is possible, that we do not have to continue to be trapped in old ways of thinking, that people can revolt against elites because they have a more grounded conception of the common good that reflects their own experience. The so-called common sense of the common people is the basis for this optimistic and hopeful western populism. This populism is the reason why every single national third party movement in this country's history has come from Alberta or Saskatchewan, across the political spectrum and across partisan categories.
Western Canadian populist movements, though reflecting our culture in its origins, always spread across the country. We sought to offer a new alternative, but never to deny the same opportunity and aspirations to other people.
I love Alberta because Alberta is a place that always demands better of itself and of its representatives and it believes that ordinary people are the primary agents of change. Across Alberta today, ordinary people are waking up to the need for them to be more involved in politics and Albertans are demanding change from the federal government. We are demanding that the government listen finally to the common sense of the common people, that it reverse its terrible job-killing policies, and that it remove the impediments to our economic success.