Premier Rachel Notley met with steel workers during a tour of the Tenaris Prudential welded pipe mill in Calgary on Feb. 8, 2018. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)

Notley NDP set to roll out their next legislative agenda. Brian Jean departs Alberta politics.

With the next provincial election expected to be a little more than one year away, Alberta’s MLAs will return to the Legislative Assembly for the new session on Thursday.

This session will mark the first time that Premier Rachel Notley and Official Opposition leader Jason Kenney will publicly face each other in debate. Expectations are high. But while both leaders are talented debaters and skilled politicians, don’t expect high-minded debate. Thick partisan rhetoric and talking points will continue to dominate the discourse in this Legislative session.

And with one year left until the next election, much attention will be paid to the provincial budget.

With the province’s economic fortunes improving, expect pipeline-champion Notley to boast about her government’s decision to weather the recession without making the deep funding cuts to health care and education that the opposition conservatives have called for.

The decision not to impose deep budget cuts was smart, but the government still faces a significant revenue shortfall. A decades long over dependence on revenue from natural resource royalties to pay for the day to day operations of public services needs to be addressed to provide long-term financial stability for Alberta.

While it is unlikely that this issue will be addressed in this Legislative session, Albertans deserve an honest discussion about our low levels of taxation and the role taxes play in funding the public services Albertans depend on each day.

The final year before the writ is dropped is typically seen as a period where governments conduct house-keeping and tie up loose ends as they prepare to enter full re-election mode. Here is a look at some of the legislation that the NDP government is expected to introduce in this spring session of the Legislature:

  • The NDP are expected to lead their legislative agenda with an act that will implement some of the initiatives recommended by the Energy Diversification Advisory Committee last month.
  • The government will introduce supports for economic diversification initiatives including the renewal of existing tax credits and the creation of new tax incentives, including an Interactive Digital Media Tax Credit.
  • With the federal government planning to implement the legalization of marijuana this year, the Alberta government is also expected to introduce two bills creating a regulatory framework and rules around the creation of a tax structure for the cannabis industry.
  • The government is also expected to introduce legislation addressing some of the recommendations from the Standing Committee on Resource Stewardship review of the Lobbyists Act. The all-party committee reviewed the act last year and submitted recommendations in July 2017.
  • Following the introduction of a private members’ bill related to Henson Trusts by Calgary-Currie MLA Brian Malkinson last year, the government is expected to introduce a bill related to discretionary and non-discretionary trusts as assets when determining individual eligibility for the AISH program.
  • Recognizing the role of Alberta grown food, the government is expected to proclaim an annual Local Food Week.
  • And after numerous recent natural disasters, the government is expected to introduce a bill expanding the authority of the enforcement of evacuation orders and creating a Municipal Emergency Management regulation to define the responsibilities of municipalities under the Act.

Goodbye, Brian JeanBrian Jean United Conservative Party Leadership Wildrose

Less than three years since Brian Jean jumped into provincial politics, the former Leader of the Official Opposition announced today that he has resigned as the MLA for Fort McMurray-Conklin.

Jean’s departure is not a surprise. His lack of critic role in the United Conservative Party caucus after his defeat to Kenney in the party’s 2017 leadership race signalled that Jean was likely looking to depart the provincial scene.

A former Member of Parliament, Jean took over the thankless role of leader of the Wildrose Party as his party was teetering on the brink of the abyss following the mass floor crossing of most of the party’s MLAs in late 2014. To most people’s surprise, he led his party to win 21 seats in the 2015 election.

A by-election will be called in Fort McMurray-Conklin within the next six months.


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14 thoughts on “Notley NDP set to roll out their next legislative agenda. Brian Jean departs Alberta politics.

  1. Don T

    Umm Dave. Taxes have gone up. Up to 50% higher in this government. We don’t have a tax problem we have a revenue problem and we need deep cuts and we need them now.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Local Food Week? This is so laughable when farmers can’t get their grain to market because of rail car backlog inversely related to the amount of oil shipped by rail.

      Reply
      1. Jerrymacgp

        This is an unavoidable consequence of the demise of the Wheat Board, and should have been anticipated by those clamouring for “marketing freedom”. But it’s also a federal, not provincial issue, and legislation to remediate the situation is stalled in the unelected, unaccountable, undemocratic Senate.

        Reply
  2. Bza

    I do hope the NDP eventually propose some kind of solution to Alberta’s structural deficit due to very low taxes. Other than of course trying to get more pipelines built or hoping that oil or gas royalties get high enough again that we don’t have to worry about doing anything.

    If a sales tax is too politically controversial, maybe there are things that can be done around the margins. Gradual increases to the carbon levy, a slight increase to income taxes, the re-introduction of health premiums, and cannabis taxes, might all be things people can live with. Or perhaps, a tax on luxury goods like the BC NDP just imposed on luxury cars.

    Would be nice to do something that doesn’t involve either massive cutbacks or privatization.

    Reply
    1. Tris Pargeter

      It’s a sign of how difficult Alberta is to govern that a sales tax, used by most jurisdictions on the continent, is “too politically controversial.” It’s a reminder of American exceptionalism, which is really starting to look like their Achilles heel, the stubborn refusal to alter a perspective even when it’s obviously required by changing circumstances. (gun violence, etc.) Also known as a definitive conservative trait.
      Too many people here think they’re “special” when they have mainly just been geographically lucky. So where’s the “city on the hill” that should have resulted from all that wealth anyway? This “Alberta Advantage” idea of feeling “special” is rather ironic because it’s just another version of the “snowflake” idea used to denigrate liberals.

      Reply
      1. bza

        A sales tax is definitely the most rational option, I hope someone has the political courage eventually to make it so. Maybe, if we keep saying that Texas has one, that will give the rugged individual vote comfort, that yes, even cowboys can embrace a sales tax.

        Reply
  3. Chris

    “boast about her government’s decision to weather the recession without making the deep funding cuts… The decision not to impose deep budget cuts was smart…”

    Letting your ideology out much?? Boast away at that 100 billion in debt and counting with no plan to get out of it…

    The PCs dug this province into a hole, and the NDP got out every backhoe in the province to furiously dig it deeper in the name of their ideological dogma. Notley can “boast” about her decision all she wants… Our kids will be boasting for that 100 billion for about 50 years.

    Reply
    1. David

      Which province is currently 100 billion in debt? It sure isn’t Alberta, but the facts don’t seem to matter to some. It’s really not a good sign if someone has to make up ridiculous things to support their political position.

      Also, about that 50% tax increase. I believe that only applied to the highest personal tax bracket in Alberta above $300,000 a year. I suspect that is less than the top 1%. If that is your biggest beef, you are doing fairly well. Most Albertan’s paid 10% before and most still are, if their income is under $125,000 year.

      This seems to become the era of the big lies and I am surprised people spread this bs or fall for it.

      Reply
      1. Michael

        Hear, Hear !

        I am in the top 10% for income nationally, and the NDP’s tax increases don’t affect me, because they only apply to TAXABLE (not gross) income over 126 K and change. I am probably not in the top 10% in Calgary, and certainly not in my neighbourhood, but still…. I can in fact afford to pay more tax if it is necessary (and it is). A taxable income of 126 will often mean a gross income well over 150 k, after you deduct RRSPs, Union and Professiona Fees, Pension contributions etc.

        Also, Prentice’s budget called for similar income tax increases, and a whole whack of other revenue raising measures (such as a new health premium different from the ones we used to pay – i.e. not something our employers could pay for us. I would be worse off under the Prentice budget.

        Reply
  4. Ernie

    The NDP have binged on spending and that’s why we are hugely in debt. It’s time to live within our means and cut back on this overspending. At least 20% reduction in spending would put this province back on the right track.

    Reply
    1. Gord

      I find it hilarious when people call for across the board spending cuts like this and pick an imaginary round number out of the air. You don’t get a 20% spending cut by finding a few efficiencies here and there or laying off some middle managers, it means massive reductions in funding for front-line services that everyone uses. Everyone loves the idea of cutting government spending until they have to wait for an ER, can’t find a family doctor, lose hubcaps on roads that are falling apart, and have to send their kids to overcrowded schools with 35 students to a class. The same people who want Cadillac services are usually the same ones who don’t want to pay for them.

      Reply
    2. Farmer Dave

      Okay Ernie, to save Alberta money do you think Notley should have stopped the completion of highway 63 (the death highway), stopped the building of the Cross Cancer Hospital in Calgary, stopped the construction of 11 new schools which were badly needed (and the most built since 1913), stopped the building of a new hospital in SW Edmonton all of these projects were identified as needed under the PC banner and were never done and all these things are needed for Albertans since the population has increased by over 20% since 2000. Maybe Jim Prentice was right, look into the mirror and which of these things you could do without.

      Reply
  5. Jacqueline Barron

    What ever happened to Brian Malkinson’s private member’s bill on Henson Trusts in Alberta? I heard it was to go back to the floor on April 2, 2018 but then we heard nothing more.

    Reply
    1. Dave Cournoyer Post author

      Hi Jacqueline – Thanks for the comment. I believe much of what was included in Brian Malkinson’s private members’ bill is included in Bill 5: An Act to Strengthen Financial Security for Persons with Disabilities, which was introduced into the Legislative Assembly by Minister of Community and Social Services Irfan Sabir on March 19, 2018. Here is a link to Bill 5: http://www.assembly.ab.ca/net/index.aspx?p=bills_status&selectbill=005&legl=29&session=4
      – Dave

      Reply

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