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Jason Kenney pledges education revamp if UCP wins power in Alberta

EDMONTON - Alberta Opposition leader Jason Kenney says if his United Conservative party wins power, it will retool the education system to make it practical and adaptable for the modern, digital age.

And he says anything deemed NDP ideology or worldview that is stitched into the government’s current curriculum review will be on the scrap heap.

“We will reform our education system to offer more practical, experiential and apprenticeship learning for everything from computer coding to the trades, so that we have a workforce that is ready for the future,” Kenney, with his candidates behind him, told around 500 people in a speech Saturday night.

“We will end the disaster of discovery math and restore tested teaching methods so that young Albertans are equipped for a digital economy.”

He reiterated earlier promises to expand school choice for parents, and stressed that the current K-12 curriculum review being undertaken by Premer Rachel Notley’s government needs to stick to basics.

“We will stop the NDP’s ideological rewrite of the school curriculum, and we will consult with parents and experts ... to develop a modern curriculum that is focused on essential knowledge and skills instead of political agendas and failed teaching fads,” Kenney said to applause.

Notley can drop the writ at any time to launch the 28-day campaign. By law the vote must be done by the end of May.

Kenney has said the full United Conservative platform will be rolled out during the campaign, but in recent weeks he has been announcing the broad strokes of the plan.

The platform revolves around reducing red tape, reforming public services, and cutting taxes to reboot Alberta’s economy.

“We will impose legislated timelines to speed up project approvals by government agencies so that they move at the fastest pace in North America,” Kenney said.

He said the party will also end “uneconomic subsidies for wind and solar power” if those subsidies result in higher power prices for Albertans, and will make changes to immigration rules to attract more innovators and entrepreneurs.

Kenney has said a growing economy and a spending freeze can get Alberta’s multibillion-dollar budget deficit back in balance in four years.

The NDP says that would mean deep cuts to public services, but Kenney, in his speech, said it’s about redirecting existing assets.

“We’ll remove wasteful layers of bureaucracy and push those resources out to our front-line workers,” he said.

Kenney has already said that if his party wins, there will be a special summer legislature session to begin cutting regulations and passing legislation.

He said the first bill will be repealing Alberta’s carbon tax on fossil-fuel based home heating and gasoline, while the second will roll back rules and regulations deemed to be hindering economic growth.

On Saturday, Kenney said the third bill will focus on repealing the rules brought in governing workplace safety and injury compensation for farmers.

Critics have said the changes threaten the viability of farm operations.

“Bill 3 will be the Farm Freedom Act, ending the NDP’s attack on our farmers by repealing Bill 6, to let our agricultural producers grow again,” said Kenney.
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