This will surprise absolutely none of you, but I was very impressed with some of the items being addressed by the Government as it moves forward with a fresh mandate.
A few items stood out in my mind.
First, I was pleased to see that the Government of Alberta have taken a solid idea from the Federal Government in identifying the following 5 key priorities:
- Ensure Alberta's energy resources are developed in an environmentally sustainable way.
- Increase access to quality health care and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health care service delivery.
- Promote strong and vibrant communities and reduce crime so Albertans feel safe.
- Enhance value-added activity, increase innovation, and build a skilled workforce to improve the long-run sustainability of Alberta's economy.
- Provide the roads, schools, hospitals and other public infrastructure to meet the needs of a growing economy and population.
We're seeing some serious cohesion between the mandate letters issued to the new members of Executive Council and the 5 priorities outlined above. The continued work on these priority areas means Albertans are going to see some pretty significant improvements in their daily quality of life.
One of the other big standouts in the speech was the specific mention of Fort McMurray on two key files: affordable housing and the twinning of Highway 63. The fact that these two items in one specific region were singled out as part of a speech that traditionally deals in more general terms should be encouraging and goes to show that Fort McMurray's voice is still very much being heard in Edmonton.
The third specific that I find to be in particular favour is the commitment to finalize the Trade, Investment, and Labour Mobility Agreement with British Columbia. Breaking down inter-jurisdictional trade barriers has been a driving force behind those who have been involved with PNWER, yours truly included. The fact that the TILMA Implementation Act is the flagship bill of this session shows that the Government of Alberta is ready to take action on broadening and strengthening our already formidable economy.
From the gallery I was pleased to see former Livingstone-Macleod MLA David Coutts present for the introduction of this bill. Dave was one of the founding members of PNWER and should be very proud of the tangible results now stemming from the work he and the other PNWER founders started years ago.
While in the gallery, I also noted that the Alberta Liberal caucus seem to give off the aura of a small platoon of walking wounded. They seem totally demoralized and generally unenthused.
As the House moves from yesterday's speech to today's regular proceedings, it seems that they are indeed a directionless ship. Listening to Kevin Taft's retort to the Speech from the Throne confirms that he (and, presumably, his party) have learned nothing from the election.
His speech is in the same dry, lecturing, professor-know-it-all tone Albertans became accustomed to and subsequently rejected. He's complaining about the same things that managed to get his party slaughtered on March 3rd. And, rather than dealing with important issues, his party is choosing to filibuster and waste the Assembly's time by calling for division on two almost wholly procedural motions, losing by a vote of about 50 to 7 each time.
With respect to the opposition, their two-fold dilemma is becoming very clear: Kevin Taft is a lame duck leader living on borrowed time... and there seems to be no one interested in replacing him.