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Week 2 Candidate Q & A: innovation and education

In the lead up to the April 16 provincial election, the Cochrane Eagle is running a weekly Q & A with candidates vying to become the MLA for the Airdrie-Cochrane riding.

In the lead up to the April 16 provincial election, the Cochrane Eagle is running a weekly Q & A with candidates vying to become the MLA for the Airdrie-Cochrane riding.

The questions span a range of hot-button topics and this week we chose to focus on innovation and education.

With Danielle Cameron putting her name in the ring last week for the Alberta Independence Party, the slate of candidates for this electoral district is now up to five. Each of these candidates are confirmed to participate in the Cochrane Votes Forum on April 9 from 7-9 p.m.

This event is free to attend and is co-hosted by the Cochrane Eagle and the Cochrane and Area Chamber of Commerce.

The first question is a suggestion from one of our readers.

Question 1: How will your party support the province's innovators and job creators and how will this translate to the local level as Cochrane "Silicon Valley of the North" as a growing IT sector? 

Danielle Cameron, Alberta Independence Party

The Alberta Independence Party platform promises the lowest business taxes in North America at 8.5 per cent for domestic-based business and 9 per cent for foreign-based business.

This tax is based on revenue generated inside Alberta. Not only will this attract new innovating businesses to Alberta, it will encourage corporations to set up offices here and become an "Alberta-based business" –  creating many jobs for Albertans.

Steve Durrell, NDP

For the last four years, Rachel Notley has worked hard to diversify the economy both within the energy sector and outside of it. We need that work to continue. The tuition freeze we implemented is saving students $2,000 over their four-year degree. We also invested in 3,000 tech spaces at our institutions so that students graduate with skills that are in-demand.

We also cut the small business rate by one-third to support job creators and grew Alberta’s tax advantage over every other province to $11.2 billion with no sales tax, health care premiums or payroll tax. That makes Alberta a fantastic place to live, work and do business.

On diversification, Garmin coming to Cochrane is an excellent example of the type of company we can attract to our area if we continue down this path.

Pete Guthrie, UCP

Cochrane has the same pressures as many communities in Alberta and needs solid economic policy to ensure growth in all sectors. For IT, we will fix the current approach to innovation funding by simplifying the way starts-up and growth companies secure public – and private – funding. We will reduce duplication and coordinate across the many investment agencies in the province.

The Alberta Advantage, which is no longer, was about the lowest business tax rate for employers. Now it is higher than Ontario and Quebec, and we’ve lost our advantage against B.C. and Saskatchewan. A competitive tax environment with not only Canadian jurisdictions, but U.S. jurisdictions as well, will ensure all business, especially IT, will look towards Alberta, including Cochrane, as a place to grow.

Matthew Morrisey, Freedom Conservative Party (FCP)

The FCP is committed to supporting entrepreneurs with a comprehensive tax plan. We will remove the bureaucratic fees and red tape that hamstring small business start-ups, coupled with a 0% taxation rate on small-scale business. This will unchain the IT sector as well as other small businesses in our community, creating jobs and prosperity for Albertans.

Vern Raincock, Alberta Party

I intend to improve mobility between Cochrane, Calgary and Airdrie using CP right of way. This will make it easier to attract residents in the region to accept work in the "Silicon Valley of the North" and be more productive while commuting.

An Alberta Party government will aggressively bring jobs and head offices back to Alberta. This includes an ambitious plan to position Alberta as the most attractive location for film and motion pictures to attract thousands of jobs away from British Columbia.

Alberta provides ideal testing grounds for autonomous vehicles, including Canada’s largest highway network, relatively low population density, and existing leadership in artificial intelligence research.

Question 2: What will your party do to support the education system in terms of frontline staff (i.e. teachers), infrastructure and policy or curriculum changes?

Danielle Cameron, Alberta Independence Party

We will ensure the following:

• that student funding goes with the student when students transfer schools. Each student gets $12,500 each school year when they are registered and it will follow the student for the year.

• 100 per cent funding for ALL schools public/private who meet the common sense “Oath of Rights and Freedoms”.

• that the ability for a private school to build a school board rests on the institution's ability to attract students and gain appropriate size of enrollment per municipality or community.

• that a grading system that incorporates early detection models.

• parents will be notified of learning issues immediately and course restructuring made available.

• ALL public, private and home schooling students will have a core curriculum to follow.

• parents and educators continue on in an open relationship of mutual trust and permissions of the parents. Students will have online access, written confidentiality sealed envelopes and the government exam to report any issues of bullying, fear of acceptance or issues inside the home.

• four-year paid university system for those who have never accessed it.

• parents and educators continue in an open relationship of mutual trust and permissions of the parents.

• mandatory enrollment in financial planning, mortgaging, loans, education (high school, college and university), apprenticeships, training hours in skill development, workshops, mental health, disabilities, addictions and much more.

• years of service without an EI claim will set different bars between eight week programs and four-year university studies.

Steve Durrell, NDP

Our province never stopped growing. That’s why we committed to funding student enrollment growth in our schools for the last four years. We have now committed to funding it for the next four. This means that the 15,000 kids entering school this fall will have a teacher greeting them.

That growth in students also means we need to keep building schools. Over the last four years, we have built or modernized over 200 schools.

Much of Alberta’s curriculum pre-dates the internet. We want our kids learning the basics but also the problem-solving skills they will need to thrive.

Some have engaged in conspiracy theories about the curriculum and would put the whole thing through the shredder. That’s just wrong. For example, the new math curriculum would emphasize basic numeracy, geometry and other basics while also teaching money management skills.

The curriculum review engaged over 100,000 Albertans – if it is a secretive conspiracy it must not be a well-kept one.

Pete Guthrie, UCP

The UCP announced a detailed education platform ( which maintains or increases funding to the education system while seeking greater efficiencies by reducing administration overhead and pushing saved revenue to the front line to support our teachers.

We will continue to build new schools but in a judicious and responsible manner ensuring previous money committed is audited to find out why it hasn’t helped reduce classroom sizes. The UCP will support school choice in our system to ensure each student has access to the learning that serves them best. We want a strong education system with successful, leading students because this is the cornerstone of our economic growth.

Matthew Morrisey, Freedom Conservative Party (FCP)

The FCP is committed to funding all students equally whether they choose public, separate, or certified public schooling, thus, ensuring adequate funding reaching where it’s needed. We will also cancel the NDP's curriculum changes and replace them with measured learning targets that are set by the regional school board.

Capital funding can be  accomplished by allowing private capital to assist in building the required infrastructure needed to provide schooling spaces for our children. If we lessen the second largest portion of the education budget and refocus the capital towards providing teachers with more funds, everyone wins.

Vern Raincock, Alberta Party
An Alberta Party government will double the number of educational assistants in Alberta’s K-12 classrooms with a major boost in funding for inclusive education. This means more support in the classroom so every child can have an enhanced learning experience.

Our classrooms are increasingly diverse with children from many different cultures, backgrounds and circumstances. Alberta families want to be confident their children will receive a quality education no matter how complex the classroom. While continuing efforts to reduce class sizes, we will expand funding to double the number of educational assistants to provide more support to students, more help for teachers and ultimately make it easier for kids to learn.

Correction: The Cochrane Eagle mistakenly printed in the March 28, 2019 edition that Alberta Party candidate Vern Raincock lives in Calgary. This is incorrect, as he is an Airdrie resident. We apologize for any confusion this error may have caused our readers.



Lindsay  Seewalt

About the Author: Lindsay Seewalt

Lindsay is a senior Eagle reporter who has transformed her penchant for storytelling into the craft of writing.
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