Excerpts of the Provincial Leader’s Address at PCAA AGM in Calgary on March 31, 1984 [Continued from Part III]

We made many other changes since 1971. Let me deal with them in a brief way.

Let’s look at resource management. I wonder how many of you recall that when we first came to office, the selling price of our oil – oil that we own as a province – was decided between the major integrated oil companies in Toronto. We changed that in 1973. We got control of our own resources. Then we developed exploration incentive programs that stimulated a wave of drilling activity and jobs through the late 70’s. Yes, then we were hit hard – very hard by the National Energy Program. But, we have come back step by negotiating step from that precipice placed in front of us on October 28, 1980. This was done with the strong support of Albertans. During all this time Albertans did something else exciting too. Albertans developed an oil and gas technology that is now valuable in the world marketplace.

We maintained, during those years, the family farm despite a lot of pressure. We brought in a Beginning Farmer Program and Farm Credit programs. We did a lot as a government for agriculture but the key is that the family farm has been preserved – which was one of our election commitments. When we discuss productivity in the world – Alberta agriculture – Canadian agriculture, on a productivity cost effective basis, can match agriculture producers anywhere in the world. But, let’s make sure we never have a discussion – never have a Party meeting – where we don’t recognize the primary agriculture industry and its ability to compete in the world marketplace.

Next I remember the election commitment. I remember when our original team of six M.L.A.’s met. We talked about whether we were going to develop as a province in the way the present office holders felt inevitable. Alberta was going to draw away rural life and from the small communities. We said no, it’s not inevitable. We can have a province of balanced growth. We can decentralize government operations as much as possible. We committed ourselves to encourage growth centres in this province. We accomplished a great deal. A few people don’t think that rebuilding rural hospitals is a good idea. I think there are quite a few people here that think rural hospitals are a very good idea! We also went with a rural gas program. We brought in programs for airports and roads. We significantly improved the structure and the way of life in small communities.

What have Albertans accomplished since 1971 in economic terms? We lead the world in synthetic oil technology through Syncrude. We lead the world in terms of handling sour gas. We discovered large new natural gas reserves in this province. The skeptics said it wouldn’t happen – but we also developed a new strong petrochemical industry so that jobs didn’t have to continue to be shipped down the pipeline to Sarnia.

In agriculture processing we have developed a whole new Canola crushing industry – and made progress in many other food producing fields.

Finance – the financial centre of western Canada is not Vancouver, it is right here in Alberta. What about science? Do you know there are over 2000 scientists working here in Alberta. These include the Scientists in the medical Research Foundation financed by the Heritage Fund. So, in economic and technological terms, we have come a long way!

How about our involvement with the rest of Canada? “What do Albertans really want?” Well, we have frequently been asked that question. I think the message is finally getting across. We want to be a full part of the mainstream of Canadian life. I am not talking about just government – I include most Albertans – whether it is in sports, arts, culture, science, education or whatever. We have come a long way and we are now fully a part of the Canadian scene. Let’s be extremely proud of our many achievers – in many fields.

What about Alberta in the political mainstream? Well, I really tried hard not smile when we went down to sign the Constitutional accord but, the amending formula strengthens the resource ownership by our province for the generations ahead. The idea that all provinces are equal in confederation, that there isn’t a difference in the Constitution because one province has a larger population than some others. I remember in 1976 when we were alone on this concept but we won them over step by step. There isn’t a major national decision made today when those involved don’t say – “I wonder what the Alberta reaction is going to be?” Friends, since 1971, this province has moved into the mainstream of Canadian life. We have come a long way!

Innes Political Cartoon

Photo Credit: Tom Innes, The Calgary Herald, March 27, 1975

So where are we at now in the Spring of 1984 as Party and a province? Let’s look at the Party first. Just look at this Convention. Our largest Convention ever. 90% of the delegates are registered from the provincial constituencies. Our membership sales, at this time of the year for the provincial Party – higher than anytime in our history other than in election years. That is very important – because it is membership that counts in the long haul.

In terms of finance – with the unsung volunteers that are involved – we went from a deficit of a quarter of a million dollars to a surplus of a quarter of a million dollars this past year. But, hold on, the surplus is for the next election fund. So we are in a pretty good position as a Party – the Party and the Caucus are working very well together.

How about input from the Party? Maybe I need to say a word about that because of the process. The ideas that you have come up with – the Medical Research Foundation came out of a Policy Conference discussion. The whole idea of a Municipal Debt Reduction Plan came out of a convention resolution. The concept of the Heritage Fund came from a convention debate. That is what being a member of our Party means. That is what being a delegate means.

Continued in Part V