Jason Kenney promises to return Alberta to prosperity if Albertans vote for his Wildrose/PC “free enterprise” party.
Given the paucity of information around what his “free enterprise” party stands for, we are left to assume Mr Kenney will emulate corporate “free enterprise” leaders if he ends up in the premier’s office.
What does a good “free enterprise” leader (also known as a CEO) look like?
Free enterprise CEOs have vision.
Suncor’s CEO, Steve Williams, says Suncor strives to be a trusted steward of valuable natural resources which leads “the way to deliver economic prosperity, improved social well-being and a healthy environment for today and tomorrow.”
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg acts on his vision to give back to the community. He will donate 99% of his wealth to charities that improve health and education and build stronger communities.
Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly acknowledged he was gay so people would understand a person is not defined solely by sexuality, race or gender.
Mr Kenney has half a vision at best. He promises to rid Alberta of its “accidental government” but unlike the corporate CEOs is silent on social issues.
This is a problem because an inspirational premier recognizes that he/she is responsible for the entire portfolio, not just the financial bits, and is prepared to address the challenge of managing social issues as well as economic ones.
Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet Inc, defines his job as ensuring everyone in the company has great opportunities, feel like they’re making a meaningful impact and contributing to the good of society.
Page strives to work with people, not against them.
Mr Kenney on the other hand has nothing but contempt for the NDP and the federal government. His lack of respect for the Progressive Conservatives during the leadership race was “palpable”. His willingness to “play nice” with the Wildrose will be sorely tested when he takes on Brian Jean in what will be a bruising leadership race.
A premier who understands the value of teamwork can accomplish much. One whose path to victory starts with the destruction of one political party and the hostile takeover of another is doomed to fail.
A leader’s mettle is tested in times of hardship.
Murray Edwards, Chairman of CNRL, refused to panic in the face of low oil prices. Instead of implementing massive layoffs, CNRL reduced costs, kept its teams together and its culture strong. It focused on sharing knowledge so it would be ready to take advantage of future opportunities and recently acquired Shell’s oilsands assets for $12.7 billion.
Mr Kenney, on the other hand, says he’ll emulate Ralph Klein—balancing the budget by cutting staff. This didn’t work when Klein tried it and it won’t work now because it’s impossible to deliver a balanced budget without slicing and dicing the “front lines” and creating an even deeper hole in public services.
Do the math: The government employs 207,678 full time equivalent (FTEs) employees. The bulk of these are in AHS (79,450), Education (62,317), Advanced Education (33,588), Justice (7,554) and Child and Community Services (5,907).* That’s 188,816 FTEs in total. Assume 25% of these are not front line workers and they earn $100,000/year, cutting them would save the government $4.7 billion.
That won’t balance the budget so let’s fire 50% of the remaining 18,862 FTEs. That saves $1.9 billion. We’re still $3.7 billion short. And we haven’t accounted for the drop in revenue that will result from lowering income and corporate taxes.
Mr Kenney’s strategy, while consistent with that Ralph Klein, shows no imagination, no foresight and very little humanity.
Securities laws require corporations to file documents describing how they’ve performed in the past and how they expect to perform in the future. CEOs who riddle these documents with material misstatements or omissions violate securities laws and are punished.
Mr Kenney has not revealed his plan to bring Alberta back into prosperity but continues to describe Alberta’s economy as a disaster (it’s growing by 2.6%) and the NDP government’s policies as anti-growth policies (the climate leadership policy is responsible for two pipeline projects being approved).
Sadly, the securities laws do not apply in the political realm and politicians, even those who espouse “free enterprise” values, are free to say whatever they wish.
The “free enterprise” premier?
Challenging times require inspirational, visionary leaders who demonstrate creativity and compassion.
Mr Kenney’s promise to be the leader of the “free enterprise” party doesn’t cut it.
*Alberta Fiscal Plan 2017-20, p 121