First NDP Throne Speech on message. McIver Tories totally tone deaf in opposition.

The NDP throne speech was predictable and on message

Joe Ceci Calgary NDP

Joe Ceci

The first Speech from the Throne of Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley‘s administration included many of the key promises made during the recent provincial election.

The 604,515 Albertans who voted NDP should be pleased that the new government is following through with its promises to end corporate and union donations, increase corporate taxes from 10% to 12%, create a more progressive income tax system, and temporarily restore funding to health care, education and human services that was cut by the previous Progressive Conservative government.

The speech also signalled that the NDP will not rush haphazardly into a review of Alberta’s natural resource royalties, which was a key promise during the election. Despite the increasingly bizarre arguments being published in conservative newspapers, Ms. Notley is smart to take a careful and calm approach to ensuring that Albertans are receiving the best value for their natural resources.

One of the NDP’s largest challenges during this spring sitting of the Legislature falls upon Finance Minister Joe Ceci, who will be responsible for shepherding the Interim Supply Bill that will allow the government to continue operating until a new budget is introduced later in 2015.

Tories tone deaf on corporate donations

Ric McIver

Ric McIver

From their new home in the opposition benches, the message from PC interim leader Ric McIver against banning corporate donations was incredibly tone deaf. Mr. McIver’s opposition to the ban is not ideological (the Wildrose Party supports the ban) but purely practical. The PC Party relies heavily upon corporate donors for the large majority of its donations, unlike the NDP and Wildrose parties which have cultivated a large individual donor base.

A report released by the Parkland Institute last week showed that the PC Party received more than $630,000 from corporate donors during the first three-months of 2015, compared to $151,000 in individual donations of $251 or over.

During the recent election, PC leader Jim Prentice faced harsh criticism for refusing to raise corporate tax in the provincial budget while personal income taxes and many fees were increased. Culminating with a disastrous press conference held by four CEOs supporting the PCs, the corporate taxes issue led many Albertans to believe that the PCs were protecting their major donors rather than the best interests of the province.

Canadian Energy Strategy

Shannon Phillips

Shannon Phillips

Perhaps signalling that Alberta will once again seek an important role on the national stage, the throne speech alluded to plans to  “forge a much stronger partnership with our fellow provinces and with the federal government, in order to build a Canadian Energy Strategy.”

A new approach to energy cooperation on the national stage, which could include increased support for the proposed TransCanada Energy East Pipeline, along with a new climate change strategy promised by Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, could lead to Alberta being a more involved player at the July 15-17, 2015 Council of the Federation meeting in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Reaching out to opposition parties, setting a new tone

Marking a clear break from the previous PC government, Ms. Notley reached out to the opposition parties in the first day of the new legislative session, announcing the formation of two new multi-party committees.

Lesser Slave Lake NDP MLA Danielle Larivee, a Registered Nurse, and Calgary-Mountain View Liberal MLA David Swann, a physician, will co-chair a mental health review committee. And Ms. Notley announced that she and Wildrose leader Brian Jean will cooperate in the creation of a special legislative committee composed of nine government MLAs and eight opposition MLAs that will “review Alberta’s elections, whisteblower and conflict of interest legislation” (they should look at banning corporate and union donations in municipal elections as well).

17 thoughts on “First NDP Throne Speech on message. McIver Tories totally tone deaf in opposition.

  1. Monty

    Dave I’m totally on the other side here. McIver should be commended for standing up for democracy and a blatant mean-spirited attack by the NDP against the business community to ban their donations. Corporate taxes should not be increased because it will result in families losing their jobs, and Doug Goss’s comments changed many votes to PC’s for the same reason.

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  2. Rene

    Good of Notley to reach out to opposition parties as many who voted NDP are not party supporters and many voted other.

    Time for real democratic reform-proportional representation!

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  3. Here comes the Sun....

    Monty w.a.d.r., ur a fool. Why should 30 or 40 x $30000 corporate donations be allowed to enable 30 to 40 individuals to control policy and the levers of govt? It absolutely makes no sense at all, allowing corporate donations is a form of facism and totalitarianism over the will of the people to determine their own futures. If a corporation wants to be treated like a person, it should be allowed to donate $275, mandated by ex premier Redfraud.

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  4. Smithers

    Monty: People in the business community can still donate to political parties. All that’s changed is companies can’t donate. The old rule effectively gave business owners the right to donate twice as much as others. Was that democratic? And even with the NDP’s higher taxes, Alberta’s corporate tax rate will still be lower than it was under the PCs, 1993-2003. How about that…?

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  5. David

    Oh, the stages of loss. I think the PC’s are now somewhere between the bewildered and denial stages, perhaps moving towards anger. However, it may be some time before they can say anything articulate as an opposition, as it is not a role they are used to playing.

    If they can eventually get their act together, there could be a role for them in the future as a centrist party. If not, they are probably on the road to extinction. One of the first rules Mr. McIver needs to now learn as an opposition leader is to frame the debate in terms of what is best for the public and the province, not about what is best for the PC party. Otherwise, it comes across as more entitled whining and is just annoying.

    The public made its decision and the NDP is now moving ahead with their platform. If Mr. McIver wants things to go differently he needs to make a very strong argument as to why it is not in the public interest and to convince the public. If he can’t do that, it is best just to sulk quietly for a while until he figures this out or the PC’s find a leader who can make better arguments.

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  6. George Takashima

    There is no question in my mind that the current provincial PC party is on its way out. It has nothing to offer. The Interim Leader continues to act like a fool and cannot accept the reality of where he iat today. It’s too bad that other members of what’s left of the party do not speak……are they being muzzled by King Ric?

    We are on the road to a two-party system here in Alberta and this will be in line with the other three western provincial parties.

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  7. eternally tone deaf

    Mr.MC Iver showed a tone of defiance and showed they were unrepentant and did not learn anything. Mr. Mc Over just proved his club is on its way to the history books. Its extinction can’t come soon enough.

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  8. ema2

    Really……who cares what McIver has to say anymore??!! He and his merry Robin Hood band (of 8 others) have been ceremoniously booted to the outer banks of the back benches.

    It is no small coincidence that the NDs made NO overtures to them (the PCs) in the Throne Speech, yet Dr. Swann and the WRs were included – essentially as people that they could collaboratively work with in their future policy making.

    I could care less regarding what Sandra Jansen has to say either; so let’s focus and give media time to those that really matter in the future governing of this province.

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  9. Julie Ali

    I think it is great that corporate and union donations will be prohibited at the provincial level. I am glad that the PCs won’t get their usual haemorrhage of cash from their corporate buddies. Mind you now that they are in third place, I doubt that there will be a line up to donate to them. Because the Ric McIver guy was whining about this move by the NDP saying that this was all about ensuring that the PCs will lose out on donations, I can see that the PCs are still in la la land. Voters wanted an end to the rich corporate and union donations. Maybe if we eliminate these donations we might have citizens recognized as the real employers of politicians. It’s a faint hope in Alberta but at least we are still hoping.

    The NDP should do as you suggest with reference to the banning of corporate as well as union donations in municipal elections as well. The municipal donations are a scandal.
    If you look at the donations of the great developer base at the municipal level as well, you would see that most of the councillors are being supported by the house building sector, construction companies and other businesses such as land developer corporations.

    In my opinion, we have had developers exerting too much influence at the municipal level for far too long; how else can did the Katz Arena get pushed through without the developer base pushing hard for it? The entire fiasco of the Katz Arena approval by the Mandel crew at city hall—convinced me at least—that corporate donations influenced council decisions; of course these decisions were also rather directed by the Mandel guy who seemed to have the council under his “aura of power.”

    Funny that everyone yaps about the Redford’s “aura of power” but no one talks about the Mandel’s ” aura of power”–that lead to the pushing through of a Katz Arena that was not in the public interest. The Mandel guy was one slick operator. I went to one of the Capital Region Board meetings and saw how the group of municipal leaders caved in– to the Mandel guy to subsidize the Katz arena as noted here:

    http://edmonton.ctvnews.ca/this-is-actually-100-mayor-council-approves-funding-for-downtown-arena-1.1282635

    Last week, the city received support from the Capital Region Board for an application requesting $25 million from the province’s Regional Collaboration Program. That program funds projects that benefit regions as a whole.

    I wonder how the Capital Region Board could have ever possibly considered a hole in the ground in downtown Edmonton to be more important than other infrastructure requirements? This sort of junk was a clear sign to me that the PCs were rewarding the Katz group for the major donations that got the Redford to power. It’s a shame that the Redford –who seemed like a nice person–ended up being a party to this sort of payback of the Katz group. It’s also a shame that we had to endure all the horrible revelations of the sky palace, the endless trips on our tab of the PC crew plus the crony appointments of Mah and Berger to ensure we will never vote PC again.

    But there you go.
    The NDP have done a good thing at the provincial level to end the influence of major corporations and unions of the Katz type. Now they need to do the same sort of change at the municipal level where developers now run the show. I mean it has been entertaining for me as a naive citizen to learn about all this corruption but I think it is time to end it.

    All citizens should go to the city council meetings and see how our councillors are owned by business interests. I did this sort of observation of the Katz arena fiasco and it was a very educational course in deMockracy for me.

    It’s pretty neat to observe how a group of politicians funded by developers do not work in the public interest but instead use public monies to subsidize a billionaire who got a major return on the political donations made by him and buddies to the PCs.
    The entire system of donations by corporations in municipal electrons stinks.

    Darren Boisvert wrote about the corruption of municipal politics here and it’s an illuminating piece of investigative journalism.

    http://www.ratcreek.org/uploads/3/0/5/2/3052544/rcp_vol14_iss3_mar_2012.pdf
    Civic elections open for business
    a special report on questionable campaign donations made in 2010 election

    No one seems to care of the undue influence that developers have in Edmonton; it seems to be tolerated. I was pretty surprised by the rather arrogant commentary of some of the developers who presented —at the council meetings I attended for the Horse Hills NE ASP development. Despite the presence of enough land for development purposes for decades, the city council folks went ahead to develop this area of the city for no good reason that I could see. These endless development projects will have to be maintained by all taxpayers and no one seems to consider that maybe boom cycles are followed by busts and who will occupy all these new developments?
    This sort of unsustainable development at the behest of developers occurs in my opinion due to the major donations by corporate donors.

    It is possible to do elections without corporate donations; Dave Colburn did it and so why can’t all the other candidates at the municipal level?

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  10. Paul

    In a democracy the government represents the people, not corporations. The needs of business are one of the things a good government must balance with the needs of the people.

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  11. Sam Gunsch

    Monty says: McIver should be commended for standing up for democracy and a blatant mean-spirited attack by the NDP against the business community to ban their donations.
    ================================

    Democracy is based on citizens.
    Not businesses. Which are corporate entities (in form, a group), self-interested, motivated by profit.

    Elected representatives of the citizens must represent and deliberate and decide on behalf of the citizenry, to the best of their abilities for the public good. Serve the citizenry.

    Most of the citizenry has judged that the AB’s corporate sectors have been ripping off our natural resources owned by the citizens.

    If you want elected representatives to represent AB’s corporations, you are advocating a political system known as corporatism.

    You are not advocating for democracy when you snivel and whine about businesses not being put front and centre. You are advocating for corporatism. The Fraser Institute blogs is where you might get some sympathy.

    Mark Lisac wrote about your preferred political system in The Klein Revolution, in Chapter 9, The Corporate Province.

    John Ralston Saul, explains you’re confusion about democracy vs corporatism in The Unconscious Civilization, especially in the preface of the 2005 edition.

    Note: Public goods like libraries can provide assistance.

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  12. tom

    Funding for libraries should be abolished entirely. People can get anything on the Internet. Nenshi wastes our money, $243 million on a library that no one will use. Someone kick these people out of office for wasting our hard earned momey.

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  13. Jerrymacgp

    Municipal political financing will probably be tackled by the new committee being formed to look at the larger electoral legislative framework, along with rules around government transparency and accountability. This committee will have a pretty even mix of government and opposition MLAs, not something we would have seen under the previous government.

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  14. Laura

    Monty,

    I am baffled by anyone who doesn’t see problems with a system that allows corporations and governments to be tightly aligned. The evidence of widening gaps between the wealthy and poor is everywhere, and the concentration of great wealth in the hands of the few has been fuelled to a great degree by the cozy arrangement you defend.

    Laura

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  15. Brian Dell

    Maybe the moralists around here could apply their principles to the side taking the money as much as the side giving it by calling for the abolition of political parties. After all, if one side of a transaction is a bribe giver simply by virtue of being a collective, it stands to reason the other side is a bribe taker if it isn’t an individual either.

    A sole proprietorship, no problem, but a corporation, that’s a problem? How about an income trust or a partnership? How about focusing on the transparency side of campaign financing instead of declaring whole classes of donors corrupt by virtue of their class?

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  16. Glenn Hennig

    The corporate world will just switch tactics to influence government policy. Lobbying will become the new norm in Alberta with lobbyists increasing in number withincreased funding and resources. Lobbying will become more intense now, especially in a one dominant economy like Alberta.

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  17. Fluffy the Cat

    Compare and contrast the PC proposal to reduce the deduction on charitable but not political donations with the NDP move to allow personal but not corporate donations and tell me who has Alberta’s best interests at heart.

    Reply

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