Alberta Politics

what to make of alison redford’s budget before election strategy.

A photo of Alberta Premier Alison Redford
Premier Alison Redford

Premier Alison Redford has told reporters that her government will approve Alberta’s 2012/2013 budget before the next provincial general election is called. The budget is expected to be introduced shortly after MLAs return to the Assembly on February 7, 2012. The election must take place between March 1 and May 31, based on Alberta’s new ‘fixed-election period.’

In previous years, including 1997 and 2008, the Assembly only briefly returned for a sitting before elections were called.

A Spring sitting of three to four weeks would put the Progressive Conservatives in a position to force their greatest perceived threat, the Wildrose Party, to make some firm commitments on the public record about what they would cut from the provincial budget. The Wildrose have been weakened in the polls since the departure of Premier Ed Stelmach and the PCs will do their best to frame Danielle Smith‘s party as a disgruntled fringe group of angry and outraged conservatives.

Albertans can expect the PCs to use the Spring sitting of the Assembly to saturate the media airwaves with spin about how great their provincial budget will be. Think of it as Phase 1 of the PC Party election platform.

Alberta Finance Minister Ron Liepert
Ron Liepert

A full Spring sitting would also allow retiring Finance Minister Ron Liepert to table and implement one budget before the next election. Minister Liepert was appointed to the Finance portfolio in late 2011 and will not be seeking re-election (some political watchers have suggested that Minister Liepert could be hired as Premier Redford’s post-election Chief of Staff)

Holding a Spring sitting will also give the many PC candidates set to be nominated at the end of January a months to knock on doors and organize before the vote is called. The PCs are scheduled to select their candidates for the Senate Nominee election on February 10 and 11.

Meanwhile, the other opposition parties are continuing their preparations for a Spring election.

The NDP are close to nominating a full-slate of candidates (they have nominated 73 candidates in 87 constituencies) and plan to make regulating Alberta’s expensive energy prices one of their key election issues. NDP leader Brian Mason is the only current party leader with experience leading a party through a previous election.

A photo of former MLA Rick Miller
Rick Miller

The Liberal Party, veering toward the political right under Tory MLA-turned-Liberal leader Raj Sherman, will be without two key staff members when the Assembly returns on February 7. Communications Director Brian Leadbetter announced earlier this month that he would be departing for a new position with the Parkland School Division and Chief of Staff Rick Miller is leaving to peruse a candidacy in Edmonton-Rutherford. Mr. Miller served as the MLA for that constituency from 2004 until 2008, when he was narrowly defeated by now Health & Wellness Minister Fred Horne.

The Liberals are far behind in the nomination process, having only chosen candidates in 23 out of 87 constituencies. Some Liberal insiders have suggested that the Official Opposition party will likely fall short of nominating a full-slate in the upcoming election.

The Alberta Party has nominated 11 candidates and only plans to focus resources on a handful of those when the vote is called.

13 replies on “what to make of alison redford’s budget before election strategy.”

Wasn’t it bad enough that Klein and Stelmach used to waste Legislature resources to trot out their fake-never-to-be-passed pre-election budgets? Now we have to waste an entire session on pre-election nonsense? Nothing serious will get dealt with during this session, it will just be an excuse for the PCs to once again desperately try to buy up as many Albertans’ votes as possible. Pretty sad, really. Hopefully it goes like last year’s spring session did and reality intrudes on this terrible plan. We are in, what seems to always be, the hospital bed shortage season after all.

I, for one, will be fascinated to see how Redfrod manages to increase spending in education, while her ” conservative” government is aleady running a 3.1 billion dollar deficit on $100 per barrel oil.. With average oil prices over the last decade running @ $55, they can hardly budget based upon current prices..

All I can say is that for me, the later election is a gift. The weather’s been good and it gives me longer on the doorsteps. I know they will be buying media like crazy in Feb/March, and they can accomplish with money things that cannot be accomplished with feet and elbow grease. Still, the time is good to have.

If there’s not a full slate of Liberals like Dave suggests, the winners are the PC’s and NDP: blue Liberals go PC, red Liberals go NDP in those constituencies. The big loser is the Wildrose.

In addition to losing two key positions in their caucus this week – has anyone replaced Cory Hogan at as the Liberal Party Executive Director?

At an Alberta Liberal Party meeting this afternoon (Saturday), several new names came forward as prospective candidates for nominations in Central Alberta. These are people who contacted the local organizations about running – not people who were coaxed into putting their names forward. So there is more interest, at least in this part of Alberta, than is being noticed by the Edmonton and Calgary media/punditry.

At an Alberta Liberal meeting in Red Deer this afternoon (Saturday), there were a number of new people whose names came forward as prospective candidates for nomination in Central Alberta. These are people who approached the local organization – not people who have been coaxed to put their names forward. So at least in this part of Alberta, there is more interest than has been noticed by the Edmonton and Calgary media/punditry.

An alternative the PC’s pre-election strategy identified by Neal (the “never-to-be-passed” budget) is the passage of the “yo-yo” budget which looks good going into the election but then falls apart after the election due to natural gas prices going into the tank and the uncertainty over when (not if) the oil sands will be developed. In other words, the budget is malleable and will fit the circumstances as they arise pre- and post-election.

Rick Miller, Mo Elsalhy, and the rest of the lame-duck liberals don’t stand a chance in 2012. Miller better get ready to go back to working for a living. Elsalhy wasn’t memorable enough to get re-elected and Pastoor’s late departure hobbles the liberal flock worse now that it has ever been.

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