Today, Premier Jason Kenney’s government delivered its second Speech from the Throne; read by Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell.
The Good-Ship Kenney is staying the course. Today’s Throne Speech delivered continuity of the UCP platform; in a time of apparent political flux. The Kenney government brought some certainty of purpose to businesses and individuals. The 117-page, 375 commitment platform remains the foundation of this government, indicating the way policy will be informed and how to speak their language.
The speech reiterated the three main priorities of the UCP:
- Getting Alberta back to work; Now being referred to as the Blueprint for Jobs
- Making life better for Albertans; and
- Standing up for Alberta.
Legislation that will be introduced this Spring includes:
- A citizen initiative act that will allow Albertans to put important issues to a referendum;
- A recall act, allowing constituents to remove their MLAs, municipal councillors, mayors, and school board trustees from office between elections;
- Bills to enact fixed dates for provincial elections and provincial budgets;
- Statutory provisions to get big money out of Alberta politics by introducing donor contribution limits to political action committees, while prohibiting party-affiliated groups from circumventing donation limits;
- Amendments banning foreign money from Alberta politics by making it illegal for foreign entities to contribute to third party advertisers;
- Amendments to the Alberta Taxpayer Protection Act requiring a referendum before a consumer carbon tax can be imposed; and
- Choice in Education Act, allowing parents to choose where their children attend school, among other things.
- The Fair Deal Panel will continue to have an impact on this session, including:
- Amendments to the Constitutional Referendum Act to clarify the referendum process and allow for the holding of referendums not related to constitutional issues;
- Amendments to the Alberta Senate Elections Act to update the election rules for the next Senate election in conjunction with the municipal elections in the fall of 2021; and
- Legislation to replace the federal parole board with a provincial parole board in charge of parole eligibility and terms for provincial prisoners.
Introduced following the Speech, was Bill 1, the Critical Infrastructure Defence Act, which will implement stiff penalties for those that “seek to impede critical infrastructure in the province.” Given the inaction by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to end the economic blockades of rail lines across the country, Kenney is putting protestors on notice that Alberta will not stand for what is being seen across the country.
A PAGE FROM THE PLAYBOOK
The focus of this session will be on Alberta’s place in the confederation and getting our fiscal house in order. Provincial and federal relations have degraded over the last year; devolving further in light of the Prime Minister’s failure to act on illegal rail blockades and impeding Alberta’s economic development.
The Speech stated:
“Alberta is prepared to invest directly and support companies and indigenous groups, when necessary, to assure the future of responsible resource development.”
Thursday’s budget announcement will indicate the potential scale of this investment, or if there are other surprises to come. Kenney is acutely aware that increasing the deficit is not popular with his base, but an investment in energy projects and the jobs they deliver may pay dividends.
Authors + Contributors: Natalie Sigalet, Darren Cunningham, Tim Moro and Jessica Conlin of H+K’s Western Canada team in Alberta.