Liberal leader talks oil prices, opioids at SACPA luncheon

By Geoff Smith (@GeoffSmithLNN on Twitter)
November 30, 2018 - 9:08am

LETHBRIDGE – Alberta Liberal leader David Khan believes his party has a base of support in Lethbridge, and they plan to target the two city seats in the spring election.

Khan was in Lethbridge Thursday, Nov. 29 to speak at a luncheon of the Southern Alberta Council of Public Affairs on topics such as health and education, the economy and jobs. Prior to his address, he spoke with reporters about several topics affecting southern Alberta and the province as a whole.

Oil prices: “no magic solution”

Khan said Premier Rachel Notley’s plan for the government to buy railcars to move oil and United Conservative leader Jason Kenney’s call for a mandatory production cut are both “Hail Mary passes.”

“Notley’s plan, apparently, they’re projecting it might increase it by $4/barrel. Now, things can fluctuate on a daily or weekly basis by $4/barrel,” he said. “OPEC is meeting this coming week, and it looks like they’re signalling production cuts, so the price generally should be going up. Notley’s plan is a year too late.”

At the same time, he said the Kenney proposal is opposed by a large segment of the industry. Khan told reporters the only real solution is to ensure the Trans-Mountain Pipeline expansion is built, and that can only be done by fixing the consultation process.

“As an Indigenous rights lawyer, I’ve got a lot of experience in that issue, and had clients that are supportive of the pipeline but know what went wrong. It really was a failure of successive federal governments,” he said. “We really have a road map to follow, and we need to encourage the federal government to put all their resources into fixing the problem that is of their making.”

The opioid crisis: “We need to invest in more rehabilitation”

Khan said he was very impressed with Lethbridge’s supervised consumption site when he toured it on a previous visit. But he told reporters it needs to be backed by proper police resources to protect the neighbourhood.

He also called for better rehabilitation programs, saying most drug users want to recover.

“The CEO of ARCHES said, you know, if someone wants to get into rehab, they have to call every day, then they have to confirm they want to go in a program. The program is in Fort Macleod. How many of us can make a call every day and be ready at 24 hours notice to get into a program? We need to invest in more rehabilitation because harm reduction is only one of the pillars.”

The upcoming election: “I would love to see a minority government”

Khan, naturally, is hoping for the Liberals to gain a “whole bunch” of seats in the spring to bring more voices to the Legislature.

“I’m a big proponent of proportional representation and having coalitions and compromises and teamwork in the Legislature and a diversity of opinions, so I’m really hoping we can make some big inroads back into the Legislature,” he said. “Because I think a diversity of voices, and our voice, in particular, is really important to be there and be part of shaping Alberta’s future and our policies.”

But he’s disappointed his party’s proposals to regulate political action committees didn’t go ahead, and he blames the NDP for adding provisions to it that prevented it from coming to a vote. He said the massive ad campaigns now underway are a result of that.

“We were extremely supportive of the regulation of political parties’ fundraising and spending, getting rid of union and corporate donations to political parties. But the NDP’s left the door wide open to this kind of abuse by political action committees, and they’ve got PACs on the NDP’s side on the left; Kenney’s got PACs on the right, supporting him and the UCP. But neither of these are good for democracy and for ordinary Albertans that should have a say in our democracy.”

Finally, Khan criticized the NDP government for waiting so long to increase income supports such as AISH, calling the bill too little, too late.

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