By The Canadian Press on January 18, 2018.
CALGARY – Premier Rachel Notley says Opposition Leader Jason Kenney is pitching policies so advantageous to the rich and so punishing to the poor that he must think Robin Hood is a terrifying cautionary tale.
“It’s quite ironic. It’s quite rich,” Notley said in Calgary on Thursday.
“You’ve got Jason Kenney releasing a policy platform that would suggest that we take $700 million to $800 million (and) give them back to the richest Albertans at the same time that he’s bemoaning protecting the basic wages of the most vulnerable.
“I swear to God, if Jason Kenney was in the theatre 40 years ago watching ‘Robin Hood’ he was the only kid there that actually thought it was a scary movie.”
Kenney’s new United Conservative Party is hashing out its policy platform. It has released preliminary ideas that include ending Alberta’s progressive income tax, brought in by Notley’s NDP in 2015, and returning to the 10 per cent flat tax of the former Progressive Conservative government.
Under current rules, anyone making less than $126,000 a year pays the 10 per cent. The rate goes up progressively on higher incomes.
Kenney’s team stressed that nothing is set in stone.
“Jason has committed from Day 1 to grassroots policy development, and feedback on the discussion document drafted by the policy committee is the first phase,” said United Conservative spokeswoman Annie Dormuth in an emailed statement.
“Members are currently sharing their feedback with the document, and the leader is letting that process play out.”
Notley made the comments as she weighed in on media stories in Calgary about the viability of restaurants.
Some owners are shutting their doors and blaming NDP policies such as a minimum wage increase and changes to statutory holiday pay.
Notley said food service is a traditionally volatile industry and that, overall, restaurant openings are up, sales receipts are up and restaurant employment is growing.
“Globally, we’re seeing growth in that particular industry as well as generally amongst small businesses and retail sectors that are impacted by minimum wage,” said Notley.
Under her government, Alberta has raised Alberta’s minimum wage every year – from $10.20 an hour in 2015 to the current level of $13.60. It is to increase to $15 this fall.
Notley also said she questions any restaurant that serves high-end food while fighting a fair wage to staff who may otherwise have to rely on charity to make ends meet.
“Anyone that has a business model that involves walking an $85 steak to a table of the much-beloved customer, but having the person who is walking that steak over have to then stop at the food bank on the way home – that is not a business model that I think in the long term is designed to succeed.”
Kenney has expressed concerns about the minimum wage and said business leaders have warned it could hike operating costs to the point businesses close.
But at a United Conservative leadership debate last September, Kenney disagreed with candidate Doug Schweitzer’s pledge to roll back the minimum wage.
“Promising hundreds of thousands of people that you are going to cut their wages is not the winning formula for an election,” said Kenney at the time.
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Trade mission seeks to calm concerns about forestry downturn
Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says he’s in Asia trying to calm investor concerns about reduced supplies of British Columbia timber for major residential developments and tourism-resort projects in China and Japan.
Donaldson, in a teleconference from Tokyo, says he and 35 senior executives from B.C. forest companies and associations are on a five-day trade mission to Asia that concludes Friday.
He says the Chinese and Japanese are keenly aware of the toll pine beetle infestations and massive wildfires have taken on B.C.’s forests, but business leaders and forests ministry officials are reassuring potential customers the province has abundant supplies of timber.
The Opposition Liberals recently released a document detailing ongoing forest industry struggles, listing almost 60 examples where companies have implemented cost-cutting measures that range from harvest reductions to permanent mill closures.
The detention of top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada prompted the minister to postpone his planned participation on a forestry trade mission to China last December.
Donaldson says this week’s trade talks in Japan and China focused only on business.
Union representing SkyTrain workers considers possible strike action
CUPE Local 7000, the union representing 900 SkyTrain workers, says negotiations with the BC Rapid Transit Company (SkyTrain) have reached a deadlock.
CUPE Local 7000 says that there have been more than 40 sessions at the bargaining table since the beginning of May, and that talks broke down Tuesday, Nov. 12. It says that both sides were unable to reach an agreement on several key issues.
“The Company has failed to offer fair wages or address the sick plan, inadequate staffing levels, forced overtime, and other issues important to our members,” said CUPE 7000 President Tony Rebelo.
“We have been more than proactive and flexible in trying to reach solutions to improve the service, but the employer’s latest package failed to address the key issues. They are simply not interested in bargaining seriously, so we’re left with little choice but to go to our members and seek direction for next steps.”
CUPE 7000 represents approximately 900 SkyTrain workers who provide service as SkyTrain attendants and control operators as well as administration, maintenance, and technical staff.
Vancouver Is Awesome reached out to TransLink for comment and will update the story when they have provided comment.
U of T names Michael Sabia director of the Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy
Michael Sabia, one of the country’s most accomplished leaders in business, investment and public policy, has been named the new director of the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy.
The university’s Agenda Committee of Academic Board recently approved the appointment of Sabia, who is currently CEO of pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), which has more than $325 billion of assets invested globally, for a five-year term beginning Feb. 1, 2020.
A U of T alumnus, Sabia will draw on his considerable experience in both the public and private sectors – he once ran Canada’s biggest telecom and helped privatize its largest railway – to help realize the Munk School’s growing ambitions in Canada and on the global stage.
“CDPQ is now a global financial institution with investments around the world. Over the last decade, we have had to navigate through an increasingly complex and turbulent geopolitical scene,” Sabia said.
“With the lessons learned and the global relationships built, I am looking forward to working with the scholars, students and staff at the Munk School to continue building an institution engaged in the world and widely admired around the globe for the quality of its ideas and its practical solutions to the issues facing us all.”
The Munk School, created through a merger last year of the Munk School of Global Affairs and the School of Public Policy & Governance, is a leading hub for interdisciplinary research, teaching and public engagement that houses world-class researchers and more than 50 academic centres, labs and programs.
It’s also home to 20 teaching programs, including Munk One – a first-year foundational program that focuses on global problem-solving.
Sabia will take over the role of director of the Munk School from Professor Randall Hansen, who is currently serving as interim director.
“I’m delighted to welcome Michael Sabia back to the university as the Munk School’s new director,” said President Meric Gertler. “Throughout his career, he has made significant contributions to public policy, to business and to the world of investment. I know he will bring the same kind of engaged thought leadership to the school.
“I would also like to thank Professor Hansen for his excellent leadership and guidance at the school. His work has helped set the stage for future success.”
Sabia, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political economy from U of T before completing two graduate degrees at Yale University, took over the role of chief executive at CDPQ in 2009 and proceeded to build the organization into a global financial institution with more than $325 billion in assets under management.
He also oversaw the implementation of a new investment strategy that made CDPQ an internationally recognized leader among investors working to address climate change, develop urban infrastructure and forge global industry partnerships.
Before that, Sabia held several senior positions at Bell Canada parent BCE Inc., including the role of CEO from 2002 to 2008 when he led a strategic transformation of the telecommunications giant. He also served as chief financial officer at Canadian National Railway, where he worked with then-CEO Paul Tellier to successfully launch CN as a publicly traded corporation through what was then the largest-ever initial public offering in Canadian history.
Sabia spent several years in the public service prior to entering the corporate world. He was director general of tax policy in the federal department of finance, where he was one of the architects of a comprehensive reform of Canada’s tax system, and served as deputy secretary in the Privy Council Office.
More recently, Sabia served on Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s advisory council on economic growth. He is currently co-chair of the G7 Investor Leadership Network on Climate Change, Diversity and Infrastructure Development, as well as co-chair of long-term investment, infrastructure and development for the World Economic Forum.
In addition, Sabia is a trustee of the Foreign Policy Association of New York and a member of the Asia-Pacific Foundation of Canada’s Asia Business Leaders Advisory Council. He was named an Officer of the Order of Canada two years ago, and has received an award from the non-profit Public Policy Forum for his many contributions to public policy in Canada.
President Gertler said Faculty of Arts & Science Dean Melanie Woodin, Vice-President and Provost Cheryl Regehr and he have asked Sabia “to lead a consultative process within the university to determine whether establishing the Munk School as a free-standing faculty would be a constructive step forward.”
“I’m immensely proud of everything that has been accomplished at the Munk School so far,” President Gertler said.
“With the invaluable financial and ongoing commitment of the Munk family and other generous donors, and with the dedication of the school’s first-class faculty and staff, I am confident of our continued success.”
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