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than we sent to Ottawa. And then what happens when Ottawa is the principle tax collector it makes political decisions on how that money should be spent. I think that’s why you’ve seen a lot of frus- tration by the west in the past, as it seems like we generate a lot of revenue that then gets used at the federal level to buy votes in various parts of the country. That’s something that I think we need to take a closer look at because I think it has be- come out of balance. I think Albertans are will- ing to be generous and happy to see their friends in other provinces receive the same level of social services at reasonably similar tax rates, which is the whole principle behind equalization, but we’re at a point now where we’re actually seeing enhanced programs in have not provinces. As I understand, there are more hospitals per capita in Prince Ed- ward Island than in Ontario. Quebec is able to af- ford a “seven dollar a day daycare” program which no other province gets and yet we transfer eight billion dollars in equalization into Quebec. These are the things that are causing tension. The second thing I’ll say is the ‘tax and transfer’

structure that has had so many problems at the fed- eral level has been replicated in our own province. All of the income is generated in the municipali- ties. If you look at the rural areas, Fort McMurray for instance, there’s a huge amount of personal and corporate income tax revenue as well as royalty revenues. Then the province makes political deci- sions on how it’s going to be spent in the differ- ent municipalities in order to benefit them from a political perspective. I think this is causing a lot of frustration for municipalities, as they feel they must go begging, cap in hand, to be able to get the resources in their community to be able to support local infrastructure. What we need to do at both levels is to allow

more revenues to stay in the local communities where they’re generated. Whether that means that we develop some kind of transfer program to re- turn a portion of those revenues to the municipali- ties or we allow municipalities to maintain 100% of the property tax revenue, currently half goes to the province. I think there are ways that we could very easily fix that imbalance and those are the strategies we would pursue.

Politics: You previously represented small business own- ers in Alberta with the CFIB (Canadian Federation of Inde- pendent Business). In business, branding is very impor- tant to gain an edge over competitors. How important is branding for political parties, especially new ones? What do you want people to think and feel when they hear “Danielle Smith” and “Wildrose Alliance”?

Danielle Smith: We’re having this discussion right now about our brand because the media’s a bit confused about what to call us. Some call us “the Wildrose”; some of them call us “the Alliance”. We think of ourselves as the “Wildrose”, so whenev- er we’re mentioned in the media we would like “Wildrose” be the name that people refer to us by. I think it evokes an image of what this prov- ince is all about, I think people feel proud about their provincial flower, it looks pretty but it can get prickly and that’s how we are. We are a party that believes that we have to make sure the most vul- nerable in society are taken care of and we need to take care of them in the right way. We don’t neces- sarily believe that a big government program from the province or a big intrusive federal government is the best way to take care of our most vulner- able citizens or the environment, or is the best way to manage our energy sector. I hope that when people think of us they’ll look at us as a party that reflects the conservative values that Albertans hold and Albertan’s believe in free enterprise and per- sonal responsibility, individual initiative should be rewarded. We believe that individuals, families and communities should be free to govern themselves in their own way without a whole lot of interfer- ence from the legislature. We believe in decentral- ized and grass roots political decision making. How we reflect all of that in our name is not as easy as coming up with how we reflect that in our slo- gan or motto that we’ll use in the next campaign, though we haven’t decided on what that will be. Right now the focus of our party is on the issue of getting it right. If you look at the branding for our press releases you’ll see that is what we’re using. This is how we’re going to get it right on royalties, this is how we’re going to get it right on the envi- ronment, this is how we’re going to get it right on health care, this is how we’re going to get it right on the budget. I think that is what people are looking for right now. They see so much going wrong in our province that they’re really looking for compe- tent leadership, they’re looking for somebody who has an idea for how we can actually solve many of the problems that we’re facing right now. I think as we produce more press releases and as we develop more policy, Albertan’s will see that we are a party that intends to get it right, and that’s what we’re hoping people will think of when they think of the “Wildrose”.

Daric Harrison is a recent Political Science degree graduate from the University of Calgary. He is explor- ing a career in social research and technology. dmharris@ucalgary.ca

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