alberta’s 48 hour legislative lightning round

The two-day sitting of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly has come and gone with little fan fare. Despite the continental shift in the Assembly seating plan – the entire back row of the Tory caucus was sitting in the front bench this time last year – little appears to have actually changed over the past 48 hours. Here is a look at some of the issues that briefly made the news over the past two days and may pop up again when the Assembly reconvenes at the end of November:

Redford’s Maiden Speech
Premier Alsion Redford delivered her maiden speech in the Assembly since entering the Premier’s office earlier this month. Billed as a speech about the ‘global economic crisis,’ the new Premier’s words sounded more like a Speech from the Throne that a government would use as a pre-election platform (minus the Lieutenant Governor).

Premier Redford’s speech covered a wide range of pre-election issues including balancing the provincial budget by 2013-2014, eradicating the provincial debt, and supporting the construction of an oil pipeline through British Columbia to the Pacific coast. Some media outlets reported that her speech also included the continued commitment towards building more than 1,000 continuing care beds, but failed to mention that they would be constructed through public-private partnerships (P3s) and remove the caps on costs for seniors housing (visions of the Chartwell Colonel Belcher come to mind).

Liberals: Sherman accuses Liepert of giving lobbyists insider information
Liberal leader Raj Sherman came out swinging with allegations that former Energy Minister and now Finance Minister Ron Liepert and his staff were part of a back room deal that gave energy industry lobbyists an unfair advantage in applying for $310 million in taxpayer dollars.

From the Liberal media release:

Emails obtained by the Official Opposition via FOIP indicate that Liepert’s Executive Assistant worked with Williams Energy and Minister Liepert to amend the language of Williams’ press release announcing their successful bid to benefit from the new regulations prior to Cabinet making any decision. Other emails show that Williams lobbyist Lorraine Royer knew of the policy change as early as two weeks before the government announcement and was corresponding with Jay O’Neill, former Director of Communications for the Ministry of Energy (and now Director of Communications for Premier Redford).

In the background of this issue is an ongoing feud between Dr. Sherman and Minister Liepert that began while they were both PC MLAs last year. Dr. Sherman was Parliamentary Assistant to Minister Liepert while he served as Minister of Health & Wellness from 2008 to 2010.

NDP: Notley owns the affordable housing issue
Last week she called out the government after it was revealed that children in the care of the province are spending nights in homeless shelters, and this week Edmonton-Strathcona NDP MLA Rachel Notley tackled the Tories about cuts to affordable housing subsidies.

NDP leader Brian Mason held a different kind of media conference this week, adding new evidence to an old story about government plans to increase privatization in health care. The media conference was less about the present and more about positioning the NDP as the main critic of new Health & Wellness Minister Fred Horne in the future.

Wildrose: This transmission line ain’t no CBC’s Heartland
On October 19, new Energy Minister Ted Morton sent a letter to the Alberta Utilities Commission asking for the suspension of three controversial electrical transmission line developments currently in the application process. On October 21, the Alberta Utilities Commission released a media notice announcing the suspension of the three applications.

Only hours later, Premier Redford’s office declared that there had been a miscommunication, stating that one of the three proposals, the Heartland Transmission Project, was not meant to be suspended. Premier Redford ordered the supposedly arms-length commission to proceed, drawing criticism from Wildrose MLA Paul Hinman, who’s party has used the controversial projects as a wedge issue in traditional Tory voting areas.

Redford and Griffiths: Schools and Hospitals before Professional Sports Arenas
Premier Redford disappointed supporters of the proposed Katz Group Arena in Edmonton by reiterating her stance that the provincial government will not give additional money to the City of Edmonton to fill the estimated $100 million gap in funding. Premier Redford told the Edmonton Journal that “from the perspective of the provincial government, Albertans right now care about health care and education.” These comments echo those of Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths, who told the Journal on October 12 that “when it comes to the province’s limited resources we need to focus on schools and hospitals.”

7 thoughts on “alberta’s 48 hour legislative lightning round

  1. Bart

    Sherman is nothing more than the Charlie Sheen of Alberta politics, his constant rants, like most of the media is nothing more than “kitty spitting”, you know when you surprise little kittys they all puff up and spit, much like Raging Raj and Brian Mason. Meanwhile over at Wild Rose, they have their little “Hutterite Helper” , Keith Wilson, running around to every gullible media outlet threatening lawsuits over power lines. Grow up people and work together, conservatives start being conservative again, cut the waste to the “Pervert Pauchauris” and Suzukis and Gores favourite charity, themselves, and his global warming SCAM, and get Albertas energy and agriculture sectors humming again.

    Reply
  2. Fran Irwin, Medicine Hat

    Yesterday there was an interesting exchange between the Liberals and Ted Morton – it seems that this program has some missing or unaccounted for taxpayers’ dollars. Here is the exchange, I think that the Media should be pursuing this – I know the Liberals are!

    Mr. Hehr: Mr. Speaker, yesterday we talked about the
    incremental ethane extraction program for $310 million, over 10
    years of ethane incentives. Now we read that the program has
    spent $170 million in seven months. Either there has been a boom
    in ethane production or the ethane fund is setting aside money for
    companies on a first-come, first-served basis. To the Energy
    minister: which is this?
    Dr. Morton: Well, Mr. Speaker, it’s a good-news story. It shows
    that the program is working. The opposition member should do his
    homework. The incremental ethane extraction program is now
    being applied to the off-gases from the oil sands that were
    previously being burned at virtually no value to Albertans. Now
    it’s being put into ethane for our petrochemical feedstock.
    Mr. Hehr: Given that the Energy department’s website states that
    only 12,000 barrels a day of ethane are currently produced under
    the program, which, at most, accounts for 2.7 per cent of what the
    Energy department has spent in the last seven months of ethane
    incentives, where has the rest of the money gone?
    Dr. Morton: Mr. Speaker, why doesn’t the Liberal Party just
    admit that they don’t care about the petrochemical industry in this
    province? Why don’t they just admit it?

    Reply
  3. Responsible, transparent, ethical Gov't

    @Bart, don’t kid yourself. This transgression is far larger in scope and monitary value than adscam. Do you people all remember ADSCAM? It brought down the Fed Libs.

    Yes, we need good busine$$ here, but we WILL NOT tolerate insider dealing, porking out hundreds of millions of dollars, without even discussing it with caucus, I meaning forcing it down caucus’s throat, sorry.

    Everything should be up for contractual tender in an open transparent and accountable process.

    As for Dr. Sherman, thank God, there A leader, that wants cares about ethics, morality, human beings AND the financial prosperity of Alberta. We have a $36billion budget, that is more than enough to meet our humanitarian AND fiscal conservative needs to keep a dynamic business climate.

    This porking out of $350m AND $350m of the Royal AB museum project is %50 of our entire $1.3B deficit, buddy. As a conservative capitalists, let me tell you, Donald Trump would have fired the entire Tory caucus, for this huge financial lapse the the drunken and bullying manner that they run our system.

    Some of you want voters to look the other way and accept this blantant thefting out of middle class family dollars. Perhaps you should move to a dictatorship in China or Russia, bart, if that type of thing is up your alley.

    Reply
  4. William Munsey

    Bart,

    Great rant! Enjoyed it thoroughly.

    However… have you read the new Berkely Earth Surface Temperature study?

    Pretty compelling stuff by impartial scientists whose main objective was to be OBJECTIVE… and distance themselves from the IPCC and the most radical of the Global Warming crowd.

    Folks wanting to belittle warming theory always call, “to see some real evidence.” Trouble is that most people who call out loudly for “real evidence” never bother reading it, because it takes too much energy, and often a willingness to accept unpalatable findings (open-mindedness… if you will). They’d rather hold onto the faint hope that change is unnecessary.

    Read the Berkley study. Put your visceral dislike of David Suzuki and Al Gore on hold. Look at the cleanly quantified facts of the study… and be willing to move from your entrenchment if the evidence is compelling… rather than to turn to base name-calling.

    If people keep calling for evidence, when they get it… it would behoove their case… to actually read it and deal with it.

    Have a globally cool day, and stay out of the wind; it’s nasty today.

    Reply
  5. @William Munsey

    Climate change deniers’ are no different than smoking and lung cancer link deniers’ from the 50’s to 2000’s.

    Deniers would rather bury their heads in the sand, distract, buffuddle and discredit rather than take an objective look at the science and look at the earth as an enclosed system.

    Some of these capitalists think the earth is an infinite resource mine with an infinite capacity to toss out garbage into the environment. They have no long-term management strategy, their strategy is bury the evidence, muzzle it, make money at any cost, who cares of the ramifications, let our children and grandchildren deal with ramifications.

    For a lack of complete science, they would rather ignore information and science entirely and would rather embrace rhetoric and fear mongering and conspiracy theories because that makes more money than actually taking an inventory of the resources we do have and using them wisely.

    NEO CONS want unfettered porking of resources with no repercussions and responsibility, no oversight, no regulation, no checks and balances, just an all out free for all to pollute, plunder and destroy, no matter who it hurts, who dies, and how much our planet will suffer.

    Reply
  6. @Munsey

    I have met Suzuki before. He is far more intelligent than any of these free market capitalists who have little to NO scientific understanding of Earth’s processes, and a complete disdain for scientifically derived information. I would like to see one of these climate change deniers, live down stream or down wind of an industrial operation and see how they change their tune.

    Reply
  7. OscarLeroy

    What part of “agriculture” isn’t humming Mr. Bart? Poultry and milk are in guaranteed profit supply management schemes, grains and oilseeds are going great guns, the beef business is going great. Do you have some rural knowledge about this sector?

    Reply

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