Six is the number of pieces of legislation that Premier Alison Redford‘s Progressive Conservative government has introduced into Alberta’s Legislative Assembly during the Spring sitting that started in February.
Nineteen is the number of pieces of legislation passed by the PC government led by Premier Ed Stelmach during the 2011 Spring sitting of the Assembly.
The government’s light legislative agenda during the Spring sitting should be a surprise to Albertans, especially after the kerfuffle around the cancellation and delay of the 2011 Fall sitting. Perhaps explaining the lack of a long list of legislative items is that this sitting is expected to culminate with passage of the provincial budget and the dropping of the Writ, which some political watchers suspect may happen during the third or four week of March.
Along with a safe pre-election budget, the Tories legislative agenda includes items that posed difficult political challenges to the government under Premier Stelmach. The Results-based Budgeting Act is a response to criticisms from the Wildrose Party that the Tories have become bad fiscal managers. The new version of the Education Act is meant to ease the worries created by the Bill’s previous incarnation that school boards would be eliminated or have their powers greatly reduced.
Perhaps touching the most politically sensitive issue for the PCs is the Property Rights Advocate Act, which is meant to cool the flames of angry and well-organized landowners in rural Alberta who have loudly voiced their opposition to the construction of transmission lines and new powers that allow cabinet to expropriate private property. Danielle Smith‘s Wildrose Party has focused what I can only imagine are a wealth of resources and countless time on making property rights a defining wedge issue in some rural areas.
Half-fullfilling a promise made during the PC leadership contest to hold an independent judicial inquiry into the health care system, Premier Redford’s support for a quasi-judicial inquiry with a narrower mandate has made some political watchers spitting mad. Opposition politicians, like Liberal leader Raj Sherman and Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson, have criticized the recent report as being “whitewash” and “an outrage.”
Being Alberta’s first Premier in a generation who can explain policy positions articulately (and in full sentences), it would not be surprising to see many voters looking past the misgivings and political maneuvering and decide that they would be comfortable with Premier Redford in office.