Alberta Politics

legislative agenda a side-show. leadership contests the only show in town.

Amid all the regal pomp and ceremony we could spare ahead of Wills & Kate’s expected visit this Summer, Lieutenant Governor Donald Ethell delivered his first Speech from the Throne today.

PC leadership candidate Alison Redford

An annual event, politicos patiently lined up to listen to the Queen’s representative sit on a throne and read a speech (and then afterward network at a giant cocktail party under the Rotunda’s giant marble dome).

Typically, these speeches are used to present vague feel-good messages about the government’s legislative agenda during that session of the Assembly. With Premier Ed Stelmach having announced that he will resign in September 2011, there is little doubt that most of the real political action overt the next eight months will take place outside the Assembly. As the experience in the provincial cabinet was parred down with the departure of leadership candidates Ted Morton, Doug Horner, and Alison Redford, this government’s Legislative Agenda is appears to be as decisive as a lame-duck. Its only saving grace may be the Provincial Budget, to be presented by Finance Minister Lloyd Snelgrove on Thursday, February 24.

PC leadership candidate Ted Morton.

The government legislation prepared for the Spring Session (announced via media release last week) presents a mostly light agenda, including house-keeping amendments in the Livestock Industry Diversification Amendment Act, Alberta Investment Management Corporation Amendment Act, Securities Amendment Act, Rules of Court Statutes Amendment Act, Corrections Amendment Act, and the Victims of Crime Amendment Act.

Justice Minister Verlyn Olson

Bill 1: The Asia Advisory Council Act,, tabled immediately following today’s Throne Speech, proposes to create what its title suggests, a council to advise on Asian trade. A watered down Education Act is expected to be tabled during the spring sitting and debate on the Bill is not expected to be concluded until the Fall sitting, when a new PC leader/Premier will decide its fate.

Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky

The most interesting piece of legislation presented by the government in this session may be the Alberta Land Stewardship Amendment Act, which the government hopes will quell dissent by rural landowners concerned that government is encroaching on their property rights. The property rights issue, spurned by the development of transmission line corridors and the passage of Bills 19, 23, 30, and 50, has drawn thousands of rural Albertans to town hall meetings over the past four years. The Liberals and NDP have tried to hone in on the issue, but the Wildrose Alliance appears to have shown some short-term success in making it one of their key political wedge issues.

PC leadership candidate Doug Griffiths (right) and his wife Sue (left) with a supporter.

Health care was the issue that defined the 2010 fall sitting of the Assembly which ended last November. Emergency debates, the ejection from the PC caucus of outspoken Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Dr. Raj Sherman, the allegations of a smear campaign started by Edmonton-Rutherford MLA Fred Horne, and the forced resignation of Alberta Health Services CEO Stephen Duckett made for some of the most exciting political Albertans had seen until Premier Ed Stelmach’s resignation announcement in February 2011.

Wildrose leader Danielle Smith.

Health Minister Gene Zwozdesky will do his best to keep the health care file under control during this political season. He has started off fairly well with the announcement that the provincial budget, to be tabled on February 24, will include the promised 6% increase in health care funding. He has also deflected some criticism of the AHS Board of Directors by appointing five new members, including former Capital Health CEO Sheila Weatherill, who all seem like appropriate choices. His biggest challenge will to actually prove that patient care can be improved under his guidance.

On the surface, the governing PCs will be talking about a Legislative agenda, but in reality their attention will be focused on choosing a new leader. It may be the hottest leadership contest in the province, but they are not the only party having to face the reality of a fairly fluid political environment.

Liberal MLA Laurie Blakeman.

The Liberal Party and Alberta Party are also in the midst of their own leadership contests. Independent Edmonton-Meadowlark MLA Raj Sherman has non-chalantly mused that he may seek the leadership of a political party, but that he is not yet sure which one (Watch the video of Dr. Sherman’s interview with CHAT TV) and Edmonton-Centre MLA Laurie Blakeman defused rumours that she was crossing the floor to the Alberta Party by announcing that she will seek the leadership of the Liberal Party.

With leadership contests in full-swing until Fall 2011 in three of the province’s five main political parties, Albertans may have to wait until 2012 to see another solid Legislative hit the floor of their Assembly.

See more photos from today’s Speech from the Throne.

5 replies on “legislative agenda a side-show. leadership contests the only show in town.”

Appointing Sheila Weatherill to the AHS board is to me a total repudiation of Mr. Zwozdesky’s predecessor, Ron Leipert. Leipert, who fired Ms Weatherill in the first place, wanted AHS to run like a business, and the board hired Duckett to run it like one; “Zwoz” and the people of Alberta want AHS to provide health care service, and the new board members appear to have been selected with a view to the provision of health care.

If the PC’s want to win, they need a real face changer and a real game changer.

They punted Dr. Sherman and he is THE ONLY ONE single candidate that can help them maintain their grip, as long as the two can make amends, publically and privately.

Not one of the other candidates have done anything risky or endearing for Albertans, therefore they are just pretenders, not contenders. Ted is finished, he has pixxed off too many people with extreme views and his draconian bills and Danielle is not a consideration, except for her deluded corporate supporters. NDP is not game, but AP and Liberals stand to take much PC support, if the PC’s continue with the currently declared candidates who want to be leader.

The one and only person that can save the PC’s chances in an election is Dr. Sherman. One would wonder how could that even work. You can suppose that it could work, as long as the existing fungus, mildew and bacteria is sanitized well with a scrub brush and washed off with hot water by the PC party, a fresh new face can bring back the people’s trust.

This existing group of PC’s is a train wreck and if even one of the return in the new PC leader’s cabinet, people’s trust will either be ascent or half hearted.

This existing group of PC’s has tarnished the people’s mandate and trust.

Are we really calling a political party with one “unapologetic liberal” floor crossing MLA and 0% in the polls one of Alberta’s “main political parties”?

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