Alberta’s auto dealers who financially backed the United Conservative Party in a big way are applauding political party’s overwhelming victory in this week’s provincial election.
Denis Ducharme, president of the Motor Dealers Association of Alberta (MDA), which organized a fund-raising campaign aimed at defeating the NDP government, said “I’m ecstatic.”
The MDA raised $800,000 for the campaign, money Ducharme said was well spent.
The unprecedented anti-NDP action by auto dealers was spurred by what the MDA viewed as “increasingly restrictive measures imposed by the government without consultation with the industry.”
“We were being labelled as though we want to eliminate consumer protection rules and worker safety legislation,” Ducharme said at the time the campaign was launched. “That is simply not true.”
The final straw was the provincial carbon tax. Dealers said the levy increased heating, cooling and lighting costs at stores. They also said the tax increased the price of fuel for purchases and for demo vehicles.
“I was amazed at the number of people I met who were aware of the dealer involvement and who said they were happy that the auto industry got involved,” said Ducharme, who was at the campaign victory celebration of Premier-elect Jason Kenney.
He said he expects the new government to “stick to their mandate” regarding the economy and getting people back to work.
The new government, he added, will become more open to communicating with the dealer group.
“We have some issues we’d like to talk to them about regarding regulations the NDP brought in. We’d like to bring the dealer-customer relationship back to a more balanced experience.”
Perry Itzcovitch, of the Hyatt Auto Group and chairman of the Canadian Automobile Dealers Association, said the vote result is “fantastic.”
“We now have a leader familiar with the federal platform and who is bilingual. The future is brighter than it has been in four years,” he said.
Itzcovitch said he had delivered a speech to MDA members supporting donations to the anti-NDP fund.
“I said, quite simply: ‘Think of what your business will look like in another four years of the NDP.’
“Automotive guys stepping up was a call to arms for other industries,” he said. “I’m super happy with the outcome.”
He expects the new government to “fight for what we need to fight for – to restore Alberta’s place in the economy, to bring back the Alberta advantage.”I expect him to stand up to Ottawa.”
Calgary Motor Dealers Association Executive Manager Jim Gillespie, described the UCP win as “a home run for small business in Alberta.”
He said he foresees less regulatory red tape, less government interference and measures to get people back to work.
His expectations for the new government: “We need to wake the province up and get business moving again.”