United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney wants to cut Alberta’s corporate income tax rate to eight per cent from 12 per cent over the next four years.


Ian Kucerak Ian Kucerak / Ian Kucerak/Postmedia

Premier Scott Moe is playing coy about his advice to Alberta voters, despite what seemed like a public call for the right to come together behind United Conservative leader Jason Kenney.

But NDP Leader Ryan Meili has no such qualms, offering a clear endorsement for Alberta Premier Rachel Notley as she prepares for a looming election.

Moe addressed his western neighbours in a Thursday tweet that began with “Dear Albertans.”

“Prior to the formation of the @SaskParty 20 years ago, our province was the example of what dividing the free enterprise movement will do: electing NDP governments, over and over again,” the tweet read.

“United we win, divided we lose.”

The message was linked to an article speculating that former Wild Rose leader was pondering taking over the leadership of the Freedom Conservatives — a rival to Kenney’s party — potentially dividing the right. Jean has criticized Kenney’s policies in recent days, and their an investigation into their past leadership battle has been dogging the UCP.

During a Thursday scrum with reporters, Moe did not directly answer a question about whether he wants Jason Kenney to become Alberta’s premier. Asked whether it’s appropriate for him to weigh in on Alberta’s election, he said he was merely offering voters his “experience in this province.”

“If you look at how the NDP were elected last time, I think it was in a very similar situation is as to what I was tweeting about into what we’ve experienced for decades in this province prior to 2007,” Moe said.

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The Saskatchewan Party united right and centre-right voters who were previously divided between the provincial Liberals and Progressive Conservatives. It won government for the first time in 2007, just a decade after its creation. The NDP had governed for 16 years prior to that.

“When we unite and set aside our differences, we become successful and we’re actually able to govern on behalf of what has been the majority of the people of the province,” Moe explained.

He repeatedly pivoted to blasting the Saskatchewan NDP, rather than its Alberta cousins.

Moe nonetheless said he will be watching the Alberta election “with great interest.” He brushed aside questions on whether his tweet could damage his relationship with Notley, should she be re-elected.

“Whoever is successful in this spring’s election, I suspect we’ll have a continuous strong working relationship with the province of Alberta,” said Moe.

Meili said he was willing to be more “frank” in his hopes for Alberta.

“I prefer Rachel Notley,” he said. “I think she’s doing a great job.”

He didn’t condemn Moe for weighing in, though he advised him to be “cautious.”

“Rachel Notley could be the premier again in a few weeks, and is he going to be unable to work with her?” Meili asked.

“I think he should really be focusing on what he can do for Saskatchewan. He’s the premier of Saskatchewan.”

Moe countered that NDP MLAs have gone door knocking for their Alberta counterparts, something Meili did not refute. As for Notley herself, Moe said he can find much to approve of in her record.

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“Premier Notley has done, I think, a good job defending, in many ways, the energy industry when it comes to the conversation around Bill C-69,” he said.

“She’s done, I think, a remarkable job with respect to the TMX pipeline and voicing Alberta’s concerns.”

He said their major disagreement is on carbon taxation, though he noted they’ve been drawing closer on that point.

Jim Farney, head of the department of politics and international studies at the University of Regina, said it’s not surprising to see leaders intervene to support their friends across provincial borders.

“What’s new is that it’s so public,” he said, pointing to the role of social media.

Meili’s more outspoken could be based on the simple fact that provincial NDP members are seen the same as federal party members, according to Farney. Kenney and Moe may share similar beliefs, but they don’t share the same party colours.

He said Moe’s tweeting offensive may stem, in part, from a widespread expectation that Kenney will win the election.

awhite-crummey@postmedia.com



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