Tuesday, December 11, 2007

End-of-session review: A tale of two parties

With the fall sitting of the Alberta Legislature now behind us, Albertans have two distinct version of events at their disposal.

The first comes from Premier Stelmach himself.

The Premier held a news conference outlining the progress made based on the mandate letters issued to the new Ministers when they were sworn in last year. A handy pdf document details items in the mandate letters and the progress made on said files.

The document is everything you'd expect from the Premier, detailed and well-planned.

Meanwhile, the Liberal caucus have released their own version of events this past year and it, naturally, paints a much different picture.

Needless to say, a quick read of this piece proves once again that any sane, reasonably pragmatic person left the Alberta Liberals when Laurence Decore quit. I'm not going to debunk this entire left-wing leaflet, but I will be happy to take on a few items:

In addition to the usual nonsense about making Mel Knight resign, the Liberals take a shot at the government for allowing bitumen to be shipped to the United States for development.

Interesting. Perhaps they have forgotten that the new royalty framework includes a ‘bitumen-in-kind’ principle to encourage more of our resources to be upgraded in Alberta.

We all want to create more value-added industries when it comes to our oil here in Alberta, but do the Liberals think Mel can just snap his fingers and make new upgraders appear?

Interestingly, the Liberals criticize the government for not "looking for opportunities to work with our western neighbours to form an energy partnership"... yet just a few paragraphs later, slam the government for passing the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement (TILMA) through the legislature.

You'd think a party that was once referred to as the political wing of the Alberta Teachers Association would have lots to say on this, right?

Wrong. Their criticism of the department headed by Ron Liepert has a grand total of 14 words about children with special needs.

I wonder why they're so sheepish about education?

Could THIS have something to do with it?

The Liberals point out that several day cares have closed due to lack of staff because wages in this sector are low.

Fair point, maybe that's why Janis Tarchuk gave child care providers a huge shot in the arm this spring.

The Minister's mandate letter includes a line about expanding the capacity of Alberta's highway system to address growth pressures.

The Liberals say that road capacity and quality don't address growth pressures.

Really? So we should stop the twinning of Highway 63 then? Kill the ring roads in Edmonton and Calgary, perhaps? I'm sure Luke Ouellette will get right on that.

Get real.

Throughout their end-of-session critique, the Liberals are short on substantial criticism and even shorter on their proposed alternatives (almost nil).

Kevin Taft and the Liberals may have thought this thing was a good communications idea, but a closer read just shows Albertans more compelling evidence that the Liberals aren't even much of an opposition, let alone a government-in-waiting.


  1. I agree with Ed on this - it has been a great year. In fact, I wouldn't trade Ed's first year for anything else. It's such a relief that Alberta PCs didn't sing a song for Jim last December.

  2. Yes, the ALP critique was quite funny. Especially on education. Apparently the pension deal was so minor an item it did not merit a footnote.

    Is Bruseker going to be stumping for Taft in the next election? - I am thinking not ;-)

    Thinking about it another way, the critique was also sad for its lack of content. It looked like a student volunteer put it together on his/her lunchbreak.

  3. I don't know who is working on stuff like this for the Alberta Liberal Party but they are obviously either very under qualified (perhaps the Liberals can't afford to pay for good quality staff in this competitive market) or just the entire Liberal party is floundering under the weight of it's own ineptitude.

    This has been a horrible year for the Liberals - a year that has made them look like whiners and complainers rather than any kind of "doer." Enough so that they have started making Mason and the NDP look good?

    What happened to them? I don't know, really, but its a great thing to see them so far off of any positive message/communication going into an election.

    I guess really in the end its awesome to see the government do so well that the Liberals actually can't have anything bad to say about it (or what they do is so obviously bunk that everyone can see it). Well, except Dave of course.

  4. I have to agree with you. Ed Stelmach's government has done a lot of great things. One of the few govenments in this day and age to deliver on campaign promises. I am still on the fence on the royalty issue, primarily because my business is dependent upon oilfield, specifically drilling. However, I am willing to wait and see. I firmly believe the Tory government will not hang Alberta out to dry. The problem with the Stelmach government's progress is that it is not being properly communicated to the average Albertan, especially in southern Alberta, where a Calgary mayor blows the budget time and again, and then whines in the media about the provincial government not giving him enough. This report from Stelmach does exactly what it should. It shows us that our new government is getting things done. It also shows us that the Liberals are going downhill. Fast.


  5. CG, Alberta’s PCs may have faced the same fate as the federal Liberals if they’d picked Jim Dithers to replace Ralph Chretien. A few months after the ‘04 provincial election, Lorne Taylor (a former Deep Sixer with Stelmach, Oberg etc.) said "You’ve got the Calgary mafia backing Jim Dinning, and that’s hardly renewal ... If we run with the same old crew and the same old platform, I don’t think there’s much chance of winning another election."

    After an understandably slow start, Ed Stelmach has done a solid job in his first year as Premier and is a breath of fresh air compared to his predecessor.

  6. thx for the analysis BR. The Stelmach list of accomplishments in a very fast first year is impressive. Lots more to do but at least we PCs aren't coasting and resting on our debt and deficit laurels anymore.

    The Libs rebuttal is pretty lame. Nice to see they are only interested in responding to our agenda though.

    They clearly want to stay in oposition...and they will get better at it I am sure.

  7. Much of what was done in the first year could be characterized as more favouring "progressive" than "conservative", because a lot of catch up work needed to be done (and still does) with respect to infrastructure, etc. I have no issue with that, and I can see the argument in spending some money now to save more later (ATA settlement as an example).

    However, I would like to see some emphasis placed on traditionally conservative-oriented policies in the new year. No, this does not necessarily translate into tax cuts, but maybe some fiscal support for young families, that sort of thing. And maybe some additional work on spending reductions (I do realize this will be very tough in a growing province, but it still needs to be approached). Some policies that would shore up support from the right side of the room, so to speak.

    The Alliance, Wildrose, etc. are not dangers in-and-of-themselves, but they have the potential to drain away some support (from PCs as well as each other). Pardon the expression, but one leach on your arm won't hurt you, but if you let enough of them sit on your skin, you might faint.

  8. Cut freaking taxes! Both the federal and provincial parties need a kick in the butt when it comes to that right now. At least its started at the federal level (hopefully with a nice election full-frontal assault on taxes to come from both parties :))

  9. I LOVE how everyone on this blog is trashing the Liberal's perceived 'ineptitude' without any serious examination of why opposition parties in this province do so poorly. Here's some suggestions: 1. PAB 2. Ralph Klein's conditioning of the media into compliant lap-dogs. 3. The fact that the Liberals have a 1 million dollar budget for their entire operations (to put this in perspective the Tory backbench MLAs probably expense more than this total for their Leg caf meals in any given year). 4. Political disengagement - years of one party rule have created a population that relative to other Canadians is extremely politically disengaged in terms of political knowledge, political interest and political participation. Beyond this an attitude of 'if you can't beat them join them' has permeated this province (and the Alberta blog scene).

    Is this something we really should be proud of? Do we want the absence of a strong opposition in this province? Besides tweaking a few things here and there, did Stelmach really do anything inspiring and future-building this session? Can't any of you think critically for once?