August 24, 2020 Print

Historically, Alberta has been a leader in sound economic governance within North America. However, that standing has declined in recent years due to poor public policy from across the political spectrum. To reverse this trend, the Fraser Institute launched the Alberta Prosperity Initiative (API) in 2012, seeking to explain to residents and government officials the extent to which Alberta’s growing challenges were being driven by economic mismanagement and how a change in policy would restore Alberta’s premier status as an economic powerhouse. Thanks to their effective research and promotion, Fraser created popular demand in the province for market-oriented reform.

In a broadly-distributed collection of 25 research papers produced in the run up to the provincial election of 2019, the Institute charted a path back toward prosperity through a series of concrete policy reforms centered on reining in government activity and unleashing the power and innovation of the market. The Fraser Institute also published a collection of policy recommendations, entitled Alberta Prosperity: A Plan for Opportunity and Growth, just prior to the provincial election in the spring of 2019.

Fraser sent 1,900 copies of the Alberta Prosperity report directly to Members of the Legislative Assembly, registered candidates, party constituency offices, and Fraser Institute supporters in Alberta. The API generated a lot of interest amongst Albertan citizens and lawmakers, and while Fraser sent their recommendations to all parties, their work resonated with Alberta’s main opposition party, the United Conservative Party (UCP). Importantly, Fraser’s ideas gained traction within a major political party while Fraser maintained a truly nonpartisan position. UCP leader, Jason Kenney, regularly mentioned Fraser Institute publications and opinion-editorials approvingly on his social media platforms during the election.

The UCP ultimately adopted nine specific policy recommendations from Alberta Prosperity into its official platform, and after its election victory in April 2019, the UCP began implementing Fraser’s proposals, including committing to balancing the budget, reducing taxes and regulations, and allowing for increased private competition in education and healthcare. 

“Being named as a finalist for the Templeton Freedom Award is a wonderful endorsement of the Fraser Institute’s strategic approach,” said Niels Veldhuis, president of the Fraser Institute. “We firmly believe that combining timely, quality research on key issues with broad and extensive public education is the surest way of generating and sustaining long term public support for improvements to public policies.”

Following their preliminary research, in 2018 and 2019 Fraser Institute enjoyed 1,390 mentions in major and provincial media and published over 130 op-eds to drive the national debate. Researchers for the organization also addressed numerous business and civic groups and spoke at university seminars held in the province. 

"The Fraser Institute provides an incredibly rich case study on the practical impact think tanks can have when they get the fundamentals right,” said Atlas Network President Matt Warner. “Their rigorous research and commentary has led to sweeping reforms in Alberta which now serves as a reform model for all of Canada's provinces, not to mention all 50 states in the U.S."

After the UCP election victory in April 2019, the party began implementing its platform, many of which were recommended by Fraser. All told, the government has moved on the following Fraser proposals: 

  1. Cutting the corporate tax rate;
  2. Repealing the carbon tax;
  3. Balancing the budget within three years;
  4. Allowing private providers to deliver healthcare;
  5. Expanding the role of charter schools;
  6. Reviewing the minimum wage law;
  7. Appointing a minister for red tape reduction;
  8. Developing a red tape reduction plan, and;
  9. Crowdsourcing suggestions on regulatory reform from Albertans.

In February, 2020, Veldhuis and the Fraser Institute’s executive vice president were invited to speak with the Alberta Fair Deal Panel, a consultative body established by the provincial government to “consult Albertans on strategies to secure a fair deal in the Canadian Federation and advance our vital economic interests.” 

The Alberta Prosperity Initiative’s impact is ongoing as Fraser provides a responsible, nonpartisan source of policy solutions that will reestablish Alberta as one of Canada’s economic powerhouses and a place of opportunity for all Canadians.

The Fraser Institute’s Alberta Prosperity Initiative is a finalist for the 2020 Templeton Freedom Award.

About Atlas Network’s 2020 Templeton Freedom Award:
Awarded annually since 2004, Atlas Network’s Templeton Freedom Award is named for the late investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton. This prestigious prize honors Sir John’s legacy by recognizing Atlas Network’s partner organizations for exceptional and innovative contributions to the understanding of free enterprise and the advancement of public policies that encourage prosperity, innovation, and human fulfillment. The Templeton Freedom Award is generously supported by Templeton Religion Trust and will be presented during Atlas Network’s Freedom Dinner on Nov. 12. The winning organization will receive a $100,000 prize, and five additional finalists will receive $20,000 prizes. The finalists for the 2020 Templeton Freedom Award are:

The Templeton Freedom Award is generously sponsored by Templeton Religion Trust.

For media inquiries about the 2020 Templeton Freedom Award, contact AJ Skiera at Aj.Skiera@AtlasNetwork.org or (224)636-3227.                     

About the Fraser Institute:
The Fraser Institute’s mission is to improve the quality of life for Canadians, their families, and future generations by studying, measuring, and broadly communicating the effects of government policies, entrepreneurship, and choice on their well-being.

About Atlas Network:
Atlas Network increases opportunity and prosperity by strengthening a global network of independent civil society organizations that promote individual freedom and remove barriers to human flourishing.