EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Wildrose Party Leader Brian Jean reflects on 2015
By VERNA MURPHY, Connect Contributor
This year was a year of extreme highs and extreme lows for Wildrose Leader, and local MLA Brian Jean. He talked with Connect Weekly, while home in Fort McMurray, after a long sitting of the Legislature was wrapped up last week.
After being elected the Leader of the Wildrose, Jean pulled the floundering party from near extinction to form the official opposition against the NDP in the provincial spring election. When asked how he was able to create such momentum in the party, Jean didn’t hesitate with his answer.
“It was definitely my son. My son dying, and watching him struggle in the hospital. I got really upset about the health care system, and it motivated me to get involved to create some change,” said Jean
“It was definitely my son. My son dying, and watching him struggle in the hospital. I got really upset about the health care system, and it motivated me to get involved to create some change,” said Jean. Jean’s son Michael died on March 20, 2015 at the young age of 24.
After being elected as opposition, Jean has seen many changes brought forward by the NDP government in a very short period of time.
“Albertans are trusting. At first, they were hopeful and they wanted the new government to be successful, and even the Wildrose wanted that. And, we worked with them on some bills in the early days, after the election, specifically so that we had more transparency and accountability in government.”
“Albertans are trusting. At first, they were hopeful and they wanted the new government to be successful, and even the Wildrose wanted that. And, we worked with them on some bills in the early days, after the election, specifically so that we had more transparency and accountability in government. And we will continue to work with the current government, when the bills are good for Albertans. But we are seeing, more and more, an ideological push towards things that are not for the economy and not good for Albertans,” said Jean.
During the last few weeks of the sitting of the Legislature, the NDP brought forward bills, such as, Bill 6 and Bill 8 that would bring changes to both: the education system and to family farms across Alberta.
“In not consulting with people that are affected, professionals, and the families, that these pieces of legislature effect and by ignoring these people, you are not going to have a good bill. The best interests of Albertans are being ignored and it’s very troubling,” said Jean.
Jean said Alberta has gone through times when the price of oil has been low, and the Wildrose is not blaming the NDP for low oil prices.
“It’s how you react to that low price of oil that determines whether or not you should be trusted by the Albertan populous. What the NDP is doing with all their bills is that they are killing the oil and gas and agricultural industries – our two biggest job creators – at a time when there are low oil prices and low commodity prices. And that’s not a thing to do, especially not without consultation. It just shows an ideological government that is not prepared to listen to the people,” said Jean.
Jean said one of his main concerns with the changes being made is the huge impact it will have on the rural way of life in Alberta.
“The Carbon Tax was not campaigned on, at all, by the NDP. And, it is not revenue neutral, so it is just a tax grab. Two point seven billion dollars is totally, 100 per cent, a slush fund for the NDP. I have never seen anything like it,” said Jean.
According to Maclean’s magazine, households in Alberta in the bottom 20 per cent of the income distribution face a $300 per year cost increase from the carbon tax. For a median household, the cost is $500, and for the top 20 per cent of households, the cost is about $600. The spring budget will contain more details about how the tax will be implemented.
“This tax will limit growth, it’s going to limit investment, and do we really want to see that happen right now?” asked Jean.
The NDP has also been exploring the idea of raising the minimum wage in Alberta, but in the last week they have admitted that now might not be the time to bring that into effect. Jean said it was the students, seniors and people who use those types of jobs to supplement their income, who would be affected the most with a raised minimum wage. Jean explained that those types of jobs would just be cut, and it would have a huge impact on the part of society that relies on those jobs.
When asked about the numerous miscommunication that the NDP had during the last sitting regarding bills (especially about Bill 6), Jean said:
“I honestly think that the government is out of touch with real Albertans. You can use the excuse that you are new to government, but you can only use that excuse so much. Sooner or later you have to be accountable for your actions. They are pushing through their ideological agenda to the detriment of our economy, and it’s going to cost many more Albertans their jobs before they are finished, if they continue on in this way.”
“My job, and the job of the Wildrose is to push and fight for Albertans and bring forth their priorities. And when we go back in the spring, we will continue to fight for every day Albertans, who continue to lose their jobs and struggle in this economy,” said Jean.
To end the year, Jean wanted to send special wishes to the people of Fort McMurray.
“I really want to get to say thank you to all the people who voted for me. Because they voted for me, and they trusted in me, I have been able to form a team, and we have been able to hold the NDP’s feet to the fire, so to speak. And I couldn’t have done that without the local people supporting me, and I am humbled by their faith in me, and I won’t let them down.”
“I really want to get to say thank you to all the people who voted for me. Because they voted for me, and they trusted in me, I have been able to form a team, and we have been able to hold the NDP’s feet to the fire, so to speak. And I couldn’t have done that without the local people supporting me, and I am humbled by their faith in me, and I won’t let them down. Merry Christmas to everyone, and I appreciate those who have faith in me and the Wildrose,” added Jean, who will be in Fort McMurray to celebrate over the holidays.
– Connect Weekly –