Jason: Friends, tonight I want to talk to you about how far we've come, where we're headed and how we're going to get there. But let me begin by saying welcome to the biggest political convention in the 113-year history of the Province of Alberta. Look at this room. Look at this room, or I should say, look at these rooms because we've got folks over in the overflow side and, Brad, I think you and I are going to go over there and say hello and apologize, but we just ... You know what? I call this a good problem to have, too many people, too much interest. You can feel the energy. Change is in the air. Albertans want our province back on track, and we're going to get it back on track.
Jason: You're looking proud there. I've got to be honest with you. When we planned this convention, the first estimate of how many people would come, based on precedent was maybe about 1,000 people, but tonight we are approximately 2,600 strong, here in Red Deer. This is amazing. By the way, I want to ask how many of you are attending tonight your first ever political convention. Put up your hands. Look at that. What is that ... it's a third of the room? This is ... Excuse me, the most important people in the room, they're not Brad or me or MLAs or the MPs, they are the folks that just put up your hands. You are a sign of hope. You are a sign of a new beginning for Alberta. Amazing. Folks, your presence, your energy, your ideas and your passion for this province all send a powerful message to Albertans who are struggling, that help is on the way and hope is on the horizon.
Jason: Let me begin by saying thank you. Thanks to all of you who have made sacrifices to travel from far and wide, to help us set the course for our province's future. Thank you to all of the volunteers who are making this historic AGM such a huge success. Thank you to the Convention Planning Committee, to the Interim Joint Board, to the Elections Committee, and especially to the Policy Committee, who have volunteered thousands of hours of their own time to make all of this possible. Give them all a big hand. And by the way, let's also hear it for the wonderful staff here at the Red Deer Sheraton, for being such great hosts.
Jason: Last night I was chatting with one of those working at the Sheraton, whose name is Abigail. As she approached me to say thank you for one of the reforms I had implemented as Immigration Minister, which enabled her to come to Canada. Abigail's been working hard here for a decade. Her kids are doing well in school, and she proudly showed me her Canadian citizenship card with my signature on it. That's pretty cool. That's pretty cool. In fact, I've got to say greatest honor of my life is there's about 800,000 Canadians walking around with my signature on their citizenship cards. That's pretty awesome.
Jason: Abigail, she told me that her kids are doing well in school and she'd been working here for 10 years, but her husband is a mechanic, also came from Philippines. He's been out of work for the past 18 months. She was moved to tears describing to me how she has become demoralized, and the impact that this is having on her family. Abigail said to me, "Sir, can you please do something to help my husband get his job and his dignity back?" Over the past 20 months of our Unity campaign, I have heard thousands of stories just like Abigail's.
Jason: Hers was just last night, but about a month ago I was at a Pakistani event in Edmonton, where it happened to be on the Sunday when Kinder Morgan announced their hitting the pause button on the big pipeline. I informed the crowd about this and right afterwards, I was approached by a lady named Nazia, who told me that after immigrating to Canada, her husband worked gainfully in a good six-figure job as a geologist and did so for a decade, but that he has now been unemployed for three years. Nazia said that this was having a huge impact on their family, and she asked me, "Is there any hope to get this pipeline built?"
Jason: And just a week later, I was at the big rally in favor of TransMountain, up at the Legislature, and I was approached there by a man in his 50s named Patricio. He came to Canada from Chile as a refugee in 1974, and for over 20 years, Patricio made a good six-figure income at an Edmonton firm that manufactures oil sands implements. That firm, he told me, used to employ 500 people. That's now down to 60 people, and Patricio finally got laid off just last month. He cannot understand why Justin Trudeau plans to phase out the oil sands.
Jason: Friends, Abigail, Nazia, Patricio, all of them remind us of why we are all here. Their families were drawn to this land of opportunity, to a place where dreams can come true. But for them, and for so many others, that dream, that Alberta dream is fading. But we are here for them. We are here to fight for them. We aren't here to do politics for the sake of politics. There is a much more profound reason why you're spending hundreds of dollars of your own money, traveling great distances, giving up a weekend away from family in order to do the often difficult work of democracy.
Jason: You are making sacrifices, every one of you. You are turning your citizenship into action because you want the Alberta dream to be a reality for families like Abigail's. You want to reignite our economy so that her husband gets his job and his dignity back. You want to renew the Alberta advantage so that Patricio can take care of his family. So let us never forget that this, this conference, this party, this movement, tomorrow's policy debates, our executive elections, our upcoming nominations and next year's general election, all of this is about people, not power. That's right. It's about people, not power.
Jason: It is about people, not power, and let us dedicate ourselves to being in the next year and beyond, to being servant leaders, each in our own way, to serve the people of Alberta to empower them with greater freedom and opportunity, to find compassionate, common-sense solutions to the challenges that we face, and to fight without apology every single day, for the people of Alberta. That is our task, to fight for the underdogs, to fight for the people at the margins.
Jason: I was reading one of the biographies of Margaret Thatcher recently, and there's one sentence in there she said to a party conference, that I can't get out of my head. She said, "We're accused by the left of hating things." She said, "They're right. We hate unemployment." How that is so destroying for people, how that chews away at their dignity. Those families I just mentioned, they're all going through emotional stress, not just the financial stress turns into family and emotional stress, and that gets acted out in all sorts of bad ways. This is not about economics statistics. One of the problems with our government in Edmonton is just how deeply in denial they are, how deeply out of touch they are with the lived reality on the ground of our province, of the kind of people like Patricio, and people like Abigail, and the tens and tens of thousands who are going through a time of adversity. They are looking to us to be their champions. Are you up to that task?
Jason: Friends, it's a bad anniversary today. Three years ago the NDP was elected. They were elected partly because we conservatives were divided, but also because Albertans wanted change, right? They did. Voters sent conservatives a message. They said, and I'm going to be blunt here, they said that one of our legacy parties had been in power for too long and had become arrogant, and another one of our legacy parties wasn't ready to govern because it lacked discipline.
Jason: If I've ruffled some feathers by saying that, good. We have to speak honestly. We didn't get this far in the Unity Movement by lying to each other. We have to be honest with one another. I'm speaking plainly because we must show Albertans that we heard their message, that we have learned from the mistakes of the past, and that we will not repeat them. That's why we started this Unity Movement nearly two years ago. On July 6. 2016, I stood on stages in Calgary and then later in Grand Prairie to propose a five-point Unity plan, saying "There's only one way to ensure that we defeat the NDP in 2019 and get Alberta back on the right track, and that is to unite Albertans around a common cause, around a united principled, compassionate and diverse free-enterprise party, a party characterized by a sense of hope, optimism and opportunity, a party focused on the concerns and struggles of ordinary Albertans. Friends, I want to say thank you for responding to that call in the past two years.
Jason: Pundits said it couldn't be done. They said there wasn't enough time. They came up with all sorts of excuses. They said it wasn't legally possible, that there was too much bad blood. Some of the elites did everything they could to stop the Unity Movement, even making threats. NDP supporters tried to hijack the process. One lawyer even tried to go to court to legally block our campaign. Can you believe it? Do you remember some of those things we went through? That's why in launching the Unite Alberta Campaign, I said, "To those naysayers who dream up every reason under the sun why we cannot unite, we have this to say, 'Albertans have always been can-do people.'"
Jason: The aboriginal people who lived for centuries in this often hostile environment didn't give up because it couldn't be done. The ranchers who settled the eastern slopes of the Rockies, they didn't give up because it couldn't be done. The men in sheepskin coats who came from the steps of Ukraine to clear virgin forest in Northern Alberta, they didn't say it couldn't be done, they found a way. Every day, the brilliant engineers and rig hands in our energy industry run into huge obstacles, but they don't give up, saying it can't be done. They're Albertans and they find a way. Friends, the Alberta spirit is one of fearless optimism and innovation. It is all about what we can do working together, and that is why we have succeeded.
Jason: As one of my political heroes, the great Winston Churchill, once said, "The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity, but the optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty." Friends, we saw and secured that opportunity at a time of great adversity for our province, so let me again say a word of heartfelt gratitude to all of you, who played a role, large or small, in the Unity Movement over the past two years. Thanks to your hard work, grassroots Alberta conservatives decided last July 22 to bury the hatchet, to put the people of this province ahead of any political party by voting 95% in favor of Unity. We did it. You did it. 95%. We made history. Never forget it.
Jason: Amazing. If somebody was betting on 95% in Vegas on that vote, they wouldn't have gotten very good odds. I'll tell you that was a remarkable outcome. And let me say a special thank you, as we did last night on the stages, Brad just did, to a remarkable Albertan, a friend and former colleague of mine, without whose visionary and sacrificial leadership, non of this would have been possible. Thank you, Brian Jean. Where is he? Thank you, Brian. Thank you, Brian.
Jason: Thank you as well to you, for the high honor of serving as the first leader of our new party. I can't promise you that I'll get everything right all the time. I will make decisions and take positions that some of you disagree with from time to time. But I can guarantee you this: I will always be motivated by a heart of servant leadership. I will always listen to the grassroots, and I will always use the best of my judgment, and I will always work as hard as I can. That is my commitment to you.
Jason: Let's be continuing on the theme of frankness, there will be good days and there will be bad days in the next year and in the future. Polls will go up, and polls will go down. But I hope that as your leader, I can count on your support in the months ahead, as we prepare to win the next election. Can I count on your support? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Jason: Friends, look at how far we've come, just in eight months. Here we are, the newest political party in Canada, with the largest convention in Alberta history, the second-largest membership of any political party in Canada, and according to the public opinion polls, we are the most popular political party in Canada ... Although, Brad, I think we might be in a statistical dead-heat with the Saskatchewan Party, but that's all right. Good competition's always good. But remember what a great Saskatchewan leader John Diefenbaker said about polls, he said, "Dogs know best what to do with polls." Some good prairie common sense there.
Jason: We cannot take anything for granted, and that's why we have to stay humble, be disciplined, work hard, and earn every vote. I want to hear that repeated back. We have to -
Audience: Stay humble.
Jason: Be disciplined.
Audience: Be disciplined.
Jason: Work hard.
Audience: Work hard.
Jason: And earn every vote.
Audience: And earn every vote.
Jason: That's it. That's the secret sauce. That's the magic formula. Repeat that every night, when you're going to bed and you get up in the morning. It becomes a habit. That is the secret sauce. If we do those things, and if we present a positive vision of economic renewal, I guarantee you, friends, this tax-raising, debt-quadrupling, job-killing NDP accidental government will be one and done.
Jason: Albertans are counting on us to get this right. Our province is being damaged every day by an ideological government, that takes its inspiration from the failed theories of socialism, by a resentment of success, a distrust of enterprise, a mistaken belief that a powerful state is a greater force for good than strong families and civil society. But they couldn't be more wrong. Now, having said that, friends, let's be clear. The New Democrats are not bad people. They just have bad ideas.
Jason: We must respect our Premier, her abilities, which are considerable, her team, of which there are many talented people, and their commitment to public service. Brad will tell you to step up into that role, doesn't matter what party you come from, you make a lot of sacrifices and you face a lot of hostility. Let's put the partisanship aside for a moment. I want to invite a round of applause for our Premier, for her public service to Alberta.
Jason: I'm going to go a step further on this, because there was another story, yesterday, about our premier facing threats. I've faced threats, some of us do, and it's not pleasant. I've been under RCMP police protection, but listen, when those threats are made against women in public life, it's usually particularly pernicious, and totally unacceptable, often playing off of misogyny, and I'll tell you this: Premier, we stand with you against those who have leveled these threats against you. I want to send a message. I know there's a lot of frustrated and anxious Albertans, but I want to send a message to them tonight, and some of them are watching on Facebook, your frustration never justifies lashing out or these kinds of vicious, personal attacks and if you feel that's what you need to do, shame on you and you're not welcome in the United Conservative Party.
Jason: Surely, all of us can find some common ground on the basic principle of civility. We must oppose the NDP policies with civility. When they go low, we must go high. When they appeal to fear and division, we must respond with hope. We must be focused on the real priorities of Albertans. When they have called us “sewer rats” and "super-duper extreme" and “un-Canadian”, or when just last when just last week one of their ministers implied that conservatives are anti-Semites, when they do these things, we do not and will not respond in kind because Albertans deserve and expect better. That is why I am proud of our caucus for having been so disciplined in raising the bar of decorum in the legislature. We've gone through two months without a single heckle, without a single desk thump from any of our MLAs, despite constant attacks and provocations and name-calling from the government side, so thank you to our caucus for showing respect for our legislature and the people that it represents.
Jason: At the same time, folks, we're doing our job as Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, by holding the government to account on behalf of so many of our fellow Albertans who are hurting. The 156,000 who are looking for work, the tens of thousands who've given up looking for work altogether, and the tens of thousands who have left our province, as well as the thousands of small businesses that have gone under and the tens of thousands of people who have gone from good, high-paying, reliable six-figure jobs to piecemeal and contract work, where they can barely pay the bills. To all of them and the unsung heroes of our economy, the entrepreneurs, who put everything on the line thank you for the sacrifices that you make.
Jason: You're the folks who put it all on the line. You're the folks who take out the second mortgage and roll in the life savings. You stay up at night wondering whether you're going to be able to make payroll next week, and I'll tell you, the small business people that do that, if their business goes down, they don't have a lobby group out in front of the Legislature with picket signs. They don't have a minimum wage. They don't have a guaranteed pension or job security. They put it all on the line. They're the heroes of their economy, and we need a government that stands up with them.
Jason: All of this adversity that people are going through, all of this because of a government that made a bad situation much worse than it needed to be, through reckless ideological policies that have driven away investment and jeopardized our future, with higher taxes on everything, on incomes, employers, property, and soon, they're in cahoots with Justin Trudeau to raise payroll taxes, and of course, the largest tax increase in Alberta history, the multi-billion dollar job-killing carbon tax, they just raised by 50%, as a Christmas gift on January 1st. This is the tax, by the way, they never mentioned in the last election. Now, in their latest budget, they have baked into it a plan to raise it by another 67%. Now, hold on. Hold on. Get this. You won't believe the reason why. You won't believe it. Do you know why they're raising it by 67%? Because Justin Trudeau told them to. I can't think of a worse idea to do anything.
Jason: All that, for a tax. Do you remember the days when we used to have ... well, we do in Saskatchewan, but in Alberta, we used to have governments that acted like a watchdog for Alberta, not a doormat for Ottawa, right? They got that backwards now. All of this for a tax that again, that they didn't mention in the last election, and which is all economic pain and no environmental gain. On top of that, massive new regulations, higher labor costs, suing power producers, and unnecessary royalty review, all of it causing tens of billions of dollars of capital of investment to flee our province, and with it, thousands of lost jobs. And the NDP tell us, "Oh, it's just because of global commodity prices."
Jason: I think you meant “that's not true”. That's unparliamentary. See, if you're one of our MLAs, we'd be putting you in a time-out right now, so where's Rick McIver? Anyway, here's the point. They say it's all about global commodity prices. If that's true, then why has $40 billion moved from Alberta's oil and gas sector to the oil and gas sector in Texas and North Dakota, Colorado, even Kazakhstan and Iran. It's not about price, it's about policy.
Jason: I'm sorry, I'm going to go longer than I should, but I just got to throw a couple things in. You know, the best example of this, Total, the French oil giant, divested in the oil sands, a couple billion dollars, in 2016. Just a few months later, they made an equivalent investment in gas fields in Iran. This means that some bright guy, probably with a PhD, in Paris, in Total headquarters, did a comparative political risk assessment, and he determined that a state sponsor of terrorism that hangs gays and stones women accused of adultery is a safer place for their investment than the Province of Alberta. That is what the NDP has done to this province and that is why we must undo the damage they have committed to our economy.
Jason: As if all of that, of that catastrophic failure of investor confidence wasn't bad enough, in just three years they've quadrupled Alberta's debt. When they came to office in 2015, after 110 years, we had a total debt of $13 billion. It now stands at $56 billion. We are spending $2 billion a year in interest payments to bankers and bond holders, more than we spend on 19 of the 23 Alberta government departments, and they've only just begun. The recent budget was a plan, it is a plan to double the debt, yet again, to nearly $100 billion and $4 billion going to bankers in Zurich, and Toronto and New York, rather than building schools and hospitals in Red Deer and Edmonton.
Jason: All of this, all of this after six credit downgrades, and running the most inefficient, highest-spending provincial government in Canada. Folks, the NDP is a fiscal train wreck, and in the next election, we must stop them from mortgaging our future.
Jason: One last point on their record. If given the chance, I'm concerned that the deepest damage they do actually will not be to the economy, because over time, as Brad demonstrated, you can undo the facts are bad economic policy, if you have enough time. But it is much harder to undo deep changes in the education system. Am I right?
Jason: The NDP is rewriting the school curriculum in secret. This is being led by a minister, who supports boycotting Israel, and has been a long-time opponent of Alberta's successful tradition of school choice. He's a true believer. You know where this is going. It's not about better school outcomes, but social engineering and more failed teaching fads, so let me be clear: if the NDP tries to smuggle more of their politics into the classroom, through their curriculum, we will put that curriculum through the shredder and go right back to the drawing board. It has to be done.
Jason: I'm not fooling about this, I'm serious. It has to happen. We'll go back to the drawing board and we will do this in an open and transparent way, and we will develop a curriculum with a renewed focus on teaching, heaven forbid, important knowledge and skills to help young people succeed in the future. That's what the education system should focus on.
Jason: These issues are all hugely important, but I believe in the next election, the number one issue for Albertans will be who can best stand up for our province and defend our economy, our resources and our taxpayers from growing a tax on all sides. For over a decade, our energy industry has been targeted by a foreign-funded campaign of defamation to land lock Canada's oil. The cost to us is staggering. We are becoming a bargain basement economy, losing $40 million a day, $14 billion a year and counting, by underselling our most valuable asset to the United States.
Jason: We are giving our family jewels away to the pawn shop. Unless we can get access to global markets, we will be assuming, over time, an opportunity cost of hundreds of billions of dollars, and tens of billions in government revenue. That represents our ability to handle our future debts, our rising healthcare costs, to build future schools and infrastructure, and to provide to the next generation, a standard of living that we hope for them. But this is not just an economic question, it's also a moral question for the whole world.
Jason: The International Energy Agency projects growing global demand for oil and gas for the next 25 years. That demand will be met, so this is not an environmental question, because the demand is rising and the supply will rise to meet the demand. If Justin Trudeau gets his way and phases out the oil sands, if David Suzuki, and Elizabeth May, and the Tides Foundation and the Rockefeller brothers, and the whole lot of them, if they get their way by shutting down Canada's energy industry, the Iranian and Saudi theocracies, that abuse gay men and women, the brutal socialistic dictatorship in Venezuela, Vladimir Putin's Russia, the Qataris -- do you think they will stop producing or shipping a single barrel of oil?
Jason: Absolutely not, so the question is whether Canada, with the highest human rights and environmental labor standards of any energy producer on Earth, will compete with and hopefully displace energy coming from some of the world's worst regimes. Will we do that? Will we do the moral thing, or will we fold to this pressure and abandon global energy markets to Putin and to OPEC? I say the world needs more Alberta energy and we will fight for that.
Jason: But now, something's different. This campaign started a decade ago, but now something's different. The special interests, they started this thing called the Tar Sands campaign at a meeting with the Rockefeller brothers ... You can't make this up. It sounds like a Jean le Carre novel or something. They had a meeting in New York, at the Rockefeller brothers' offices in Manhattan 10 years ago.
Jason: Now, these special interests attacking our energy industry have powerful allies, the most powerful allies, including Justin Trudeau, who canceled the approved Northern Gateway pipeline, who arbitrarily imposed a West Coast tanker ban. By the way, that's just on oil tankers leaving Canada, not the ones coming in or passing by from Alaska. He violated Alberta's jurisdiction to regulate oil and gas production by getting the National Energy Board into the business of regulating upstream emissions. That is jurisdiction that Peter Lougheed fought for and got written into the Constitution that our premier has surrendered on. Brad Wall never would have done that in Saskatchewan.
Jason: This Prime Minister killed Energy East as a result, and with it the dream of energy independence, meaning that our friends down east are bringing in from tankers from conflict regimes, foreign oil instead of supporting ethically-produced Canadian oil. And then, Justin Trudeau surrendered to Barack Obama's veto on Keystone XL, and he has rewarded the BC New Democrats with billions of dollars of transfers, while they make a mockery of our constitution and attack our vital economic interests.
Jason: Justin has also a bill that makes it virtually impossible to get another pipeline approved in the future, and a bill to impose a carbon tax on provinces, like Saskatchewan, that don't punish their own consumers for the crime of heating their homes and driving to work. Don't forget. Don't forget. Add up the dots here. This is the prime minister who said he wants to “phase out the oil sands”. That was not a slip of the tongue.
Jason: This is the part I really don't get. Our Alberta NDP government has decided to make this Prime Minister their closest ally. For them, Justin Trudeau can do no wrong. Every day I'm in the legislature, asking them to take issue with the anti-pipeline bill, with the federal carbon tax threats, with the intrusion into our jurisdiction with his shutting down Energy East, with his cancellation of Northern Gateway, with his surrender to Obama on Keystone and his total inaction on TransMountain. Every day I give them an opportunity to stand up for Alberta, and every day our NDP government instead sides with Trudeau and Ottawa, defending this federal government that is undermining the engine of our prosperity.
Jason: And to top it all off, to top it all off, we have politicians benefiting from billions of dollars in equalization transfers. Alberta, we contribute $20 billion a year net through fiscal federalism, and they benefit from that, most of that wealth generated by our energy industry. But many of these same politicians have opposed the pipelines that would help to produce that wealth that goes to them in equalization, as Brad has said, maybe the only way that we can get them to support the pipeline is if we ship the equalization dollars through it.
Jason: Let me be very frank, friends. I think even my critics have learned that when I put my mind to something, I don't stop until I get it done, all right? So let me put it really plain to Justin Trudeau, to John Horgan, to the David Suzukis and the Elizabeth Mays, to the foreign-funded special interests and all of the enemies of our economic progress: if I become premier of Alberta, I will not relent. I will go to the wall. I will form alliances. I will go to court. I will use every tool available to defend this province, our economy, our resources and our people.
Jason: The special interests have targeted Alberta oil and not Saudi or Venezuelan or Russian oil, because they saw us as the Boy Scouts, as the soft target. If I am premier, those days are over. Alberta will no longer be a soft target. We will fight back for our economic survival. We will fight back for our future prosperity, so we have the resources to help the most vulnerable. We will fight back because it's the right thing to do. And I will never say, as our premier did, that our energy industry makes Alberta the embarrassing cousin that no one wants to talk about.
Audience: Go get 'em, Jason.
Jason: You know what? It took our premier over two years to launch a speaking tour to inform Canadians about the importance of our energy industry. If I'm premier, I will reach out across the country and abroad from day one.
Jason: I'm just going to tell you what the fight-back strategy is here. I'll start with that national and international advocacy in both of our official languages, and then we will set up a fully staffed rapid response war room in government to quickly and effectively rebut every lie told by the green left about our world-class energy industry. If companies like HSBC decide to boycott our oil sands, our government will boycott them. It's called a market decision.
Jason: We will pass a law banning foreign money from being spent by special interests during Alberta elections. We will follow up on the recent work of the United States Senate Committee, that confirmed a Russian social media campaign targeting North American energy production. We will launch a special Alberta Legislature committee investigation into the sources of foreign funds behind the anti-Alberta special interests. The Tides Foundation doesn't have a lot of supporters over there. We will go to court if necessary, to get the federal government to strip charitable status from bogus charities like Tides Canada and the David Suzuki Foundation.
Jason: While the NDP has spent millions of advertising dollars to promote their punitive carbon tax, we will instead use those funds to explain to our fellow Canadians how we all benefit from the most environmentally responsible oil and gas industry on Earth. The NDP pressured industry groups into supporting their carbon tax on everything. Instead, we will politely ask the same energy industry groups to up their game in telling their story and stop playing defense. We need an industry champion to follow the lead. We need an industry champion to follow the lead of the brave forestry company, Resolute Forest Products, which is standing up to bullying by suing Greenpeace for defamation.
Jason: If you pass a resolution to scrap the carbon tax tomorrow, I will be on a flight to Ottawa later tomorrow to tell the Commons Finance Committee on Monday morning, that an Alberta conservative government will pass the Carbon Tax Repeal Act as our first act of government. But it's up to you. I'm not trying to influence your vote, by the way, it's a grassroots decision. And I will tell the committee on Monday that if Justin Trudeau tries to impose his federal carbon tax on us, we will join with Premier Scott Moe and the possible Premier Doug Ford, and we will see Justin in court. I will follow the lead of the great Peter Lougheed in trying to build coalitions across the federation. As I've said, potential Ontario Premier Doug Ford has told me that he is a complete ally of our resource industries and will enthusiastically join our fight against the Trudeau carbon tax.
Jason: So, friends, if we come to office and the BC New Democrats are still violating the Constitution by blocking the TransMountain Pipeline, we will not make empty threats like the NDP government here. We will act. We will act to protect our strategic economic interests. You all remember this, last summer, I was talking about turning off the taps and our premier mocked and ridiculed me. She said, "Jason was having a temper tantrum." She said, "He wants to be a mini Trump and build a wall around Alberta and make BC pay for it." That was a clever line, actually. She said, "That's not how you build a pipeline." And then, lo and behold, on the road to election day they must have done some polling, and they must have seen that Albertans actually want their provincial government to defend this province's strategic economic interests, and they took lock, stock and barrel our fight-back strategy.
Jason: But let me be clear, for me it's not empty words. John Horgan is having a hard time right now, explaining gas prices at $1.60 a liter. Wait until we turn off the taps and it hits $3 a liter. Maybe then, the BC New Democrats and even the Greens will understand that their economy is not fueled by the dilithium crystals or pixie dust, but by Alberta crude oil.
Jason: My list keeps going on here. I don't know when this ends, and I wrote this. And friends-
Jason: Friends, if Justin Trudeau shirks his constitutional duty to ensure the construction of the one pipeline he hasn't killed yet, if he continues ... this is a serious message here ... if he continues to threaten Alberta with his job-killing carbon tax, and if he refuses to make fundamental changes to the unfair system of equalization, where we have unemployed Albertans, through their federal taxes, subsidizing university rates and daycare rates in other provinces, when we've had 9% unemployment and they've had 5% unemployment, when we've had a huge deficit and they've had a huge surplus, when we've had a long recession and they've had sustained growth, when Ottawa shuts down our pipeline because of carbon, but then subsidizes a cement factory in another province, exempting them from carbon regulation, and they subsidize the construction of airplanes with no limits on the carbon.
Jason: If they don't fix this problem and bring some fairness to the federation, then I am prepared to take a page out of the playbook of Quebec political leaders, but using a power the Supreme Court gave us two decades ago, in section 36(2) of the Constitution Act, to amend the Constitution's guarantee of equalization, we Albertans are generous people. We don't mind sharing our wealth when times are good here, but bad elsewhere. But in recent years, the opposite has been true, and so I am putting Justin Trudeau on notice, don't bite the hand that feeds you. As I say, Albertans are generous, but they also believe in fairness, and under a United Conservative government, we will fight for fairness.
Jason: Friends, May 5, 2018, is a key date. As I said before, we're exactly three years from the election of the NDP and one year from the next election. On this weekend ... Yeah, that is worth applauding. Just one more year. Just 365 sleeps, right? Is it a leap year? I'm not sure. On this weekend we are setting the course for our new party, and as we do so, let us recall why we are called the United Conservatives. This is a big tent coalition and let's keep it that way. We don't agree with each other on everything, I'd say thank goodness.
Jason: Some of you heard me quote the former New York Mayor Ed Koch before, he said, "If you agree with me on 10 things out of 12, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 things out of 12, see a psychiatrist." And unlike our friends on the left, we do not seek some artificial intellectual uniformity on everything. We believe in robust debate. Today, there was some debate on party governance. Tomorrow, there will be more on public policy. We have hotly contested elections for our executive, not every vote will go your way. If an idea or a candidate to which you are attached doesn't succeed, or if you've worked hard on a resolution that unfortunately didn't make it to the floor, please, don't be discouraged. Instead, respect the collective judgment of your fellow members. Unite and move on. Keeping that hard-won unity will be especially important in the upcoming nomination races.
Jason: I'm excited to see so many bright, talented, diverse candidates stepping forward for nominations. If you think that you can help us get Alberta back on track as a candidate or as an MLA, I encourage you to put your name forward, or to encourage other good people to do the same. We will need a phenomenal team of talented Albertans to do the heavy lifting after the next election. And please reflect on what Rona and Heather said earlier today, it's especially important that strong women seek UCP nominations and bring their unique talents and perspective to our caucus and cabinet. Are you with me on that?
Jason: Fellow Conservatives, as your leader, let me assure you how seriously I take your deliberations leading up to and at this historic weekend. I ran for the PC leadership on the five-point Unity plan. The fifth point was this founding AGM, promise made, promise kept. I then ran for the UCP leadership on the grassroots guarantee with the five-point plan for democratic policy development, and here we are, after what I believe has been the most open and democratic policy development process in Canadian party history. I believe that's true.
Jason: The last time the NDP had one of these things, they debated I think 40 resolutions for two hours. We received a phenomenal 1,600 resolutions, and then I think for the first time in Canadian party history, every single one of our 110,000 members had a chance to vote on those resolutions. That's how the policy committee decided which resolutions would be debated at this floor. It could not be more democratic, so promise made, promise kept.
Jason: The fifth point in the grassroots guarantee was to appoint a platform committee, following this convention, to reach out to all Albertans, to invite them to help us develop a positive, comprehensive, costed blue print for a future conservative government. The starting point of that platform, and the most important input for it, will be the policy declaration that you adopt tomorrow. You are beginning the work of getting Alberta back on track, with your deliberations tomorrow.
Jason: Our platform, and I'll wait and see what you have to say about this and our other consultations, but my goal is for our platform to be ambitious, costed, and a common-sense plan to reignite our economy, create good jobs, restore investor confidence and renew the Alberta Advantage so that we can afford the quality of public services like health care and education, that Albertans deserve and rely on. If we win that next election, we will move fast. We will not waste any time. I want to see headlines around the world within weeks or months of us taking office, that Alberta is open for business again.
Jason: Folks, don't worry, I'm just about done. Folks, when I meet with our newly-elected executive tomorrow, I'm going to be recommending that we hold our next AGM in February, in Edmonton, because everybody loves to be in Edmonton in February. But seriously, because in the next ... and by the way, we know that for a lot of farmers there's conflicting with seeding. We're going to try to avoid that problem in the future. Are there any farmers here tonight, that got a night off seeding? Not many, because they're all out in the fields. If there are any farm families here, we wish you great luck with this crop season and thank you for feeding Alberta and the rest of the world.
Jason: In the next year, much of my time and the party resources will be focused on Edmonton, and that's why I'm suggesting that we have our next convention there. By the way, I am pleased to tell you that by far, the largest regional delegation from across the province at this AGM is from Edmonton. Edmonton is a great industrial city of builders, of dreamers and of doers, it is our capital and we must do everything we can to ensure that Edmonton is at the table where the decisions are made in the next government. I also want to make it clear that after what the NDP has done to our province and our economy, that there is no safe seat for the NDP anywhere, including in Edmonton.
Jason: And for our party, for our candidates, I commit to you that for the United Conservative campaign, no writing will be left behind, and this is one of the strategies that Brad followed successfully, taking writings that had been NDP and CCF for decades in the core of Saskatoon and Regina, we're going to follow his example.
Jason: Friends, we've come a long way together. We have made history together. We still are. But an even bigger challenge lies ahead. We have inherited, from those who have gone before us, one of the most generous and prosperous societies on Earth, in all of human history. We have been blessed by the bounty of this land and the ingenuity of its people. But we know that we can no longer take for granted that Alberta advantage. We owe it both past and future generations to fight for it.
Jason: So let me, in closing, ask you a couple of questions. Are you ready for a year of hard work?
Jason: Are you ready to reach out to Albertans of all backgrounds and walks of life, to have them join this movement?
Jason: Are you ready for a government that will stop apologizing for Alberta and start fighting for it?
Jason: Then let's get this party started. God bless you, and God bless the people of Alberta.