Opinions
Dawn Muenchrath

Don’t forget who’s behind budget cuts

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Students know Thomas Lukaszuk as the face of the 2013 post-secondary budget cuts. Now he’s running for leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party and he wants the student vote.

When the Gauntlet interviewed Lukaszuk last week, he used the $50 million that was put back into the post-secondary budget eight months after the initial cuts as a campaigning point.

Of course, he’s only able to take credit for putting the money back because $147 million was cut under his watch.

Lukaszuk is taking credit for the successes of his old portfolio while distancing himself from the effects of decisions made under his supervision. If he wants to take leadership of a party that is recovering from a string of public relations scandals, owning up to his mistakes would be an adequate start.

His plan for restoring moral authority to the PC party includes apologizing and promising to prevent similar mistakes. But is he doing this with his own portfolio? His plan is no more than political hypocrisy.

Even Lukaszuk’s stand-out ideas — such as generating provincial revenue by diversifying industry — belong to another party. Kevin Taft, former leader of the Alberta Liberals, built his political brand on moving Alberta away from its dependence on oil. He met PC opposition and indifference in the legislature.
Lukaszuk’s supposedly innovative ideas are stolen, watered down and re-branded. We don’t need solutions taken out of context. If you think we’re too dependent on oil, vote Liberal.

Lukaszuk also has a bad track record of dealing with dissenting groups. At the forefront of negotiations with the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, he used inflammatory accusations and underhanded tactics in an attempt to turn public opinion against striking workers. He refused to bargain with unions and labeled the wildcat strikes as “simple illegal walkouts.”

Lukaszuk is only willing to negotiate on his terms. He might pride himself on having a friendly relationship with students, but I don’t think he would be so accommodating if we stepped out of line.

Lukaszuk’s platform is exactly what it needs to be in order to win a few votes. But his hypocritical platform points and past decisions mean he can’t be trusted. We’re already living with the consequences of choices made last time he was in charge. The last thing Lukaszuk should have is more power.

His obvious pandering for votes would be amusing if there wasn’t a possibility he could win. We can appreciate his friendly demeanor, but we’d be fools to forget the budget cuts and vote Lukaszuk

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