Gov­ern­ment house leader sug­gests be­tween 14 and 17 bills will be passed

Edmonton Sun - - NEWS - JANET French @jantafrenc­h

Al­berta’s gov­ern­ment is pre­par­ing to re­veal the meat on the bones of its next serv­ing of leg­is­la­tion.

Com­ing in the next few weeks will be de­tails of a new pro­vin­cial car­bon tax on heavy in­dus­trial emit­ters, a new Crown cor­po­ra­tion to stim­u­late In­dige­nous-led re­source de­vel­op­ment projects and po­ten­tial roll­backs to farm safety mea­sures im­ple­mented by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment.

Gov­ern­ment house leader Ja­son Nixon said Mon­day he’s aim­ing to best the gov­ern­ment’s spring sit­ting by pass­ing be­tween 14 and 17 bills be­fore Christ­mas. The leg­is­la­ture ap­proved 13 bills dur­ing the first sit­ting of the first ses­sion of the 30th Al­berta leg­is­la­ture.

“In the im­mor­tal words of Randy Bach­man, ‘You ain’t seen noth­ing yet,’ ” Nixon told re­porters Mon­day, quot­ing the Bach­man-turner Over­drive hit from 1974.

In ad­di­tion to ax­ing Al­berta’s con­sumer car­bon tax last May, the UCP cam­paigned on al­ter­ing how heavy emit­ters would pay to pol­lute.

New car­bon pro­gram

Say­ing the sta­tus quo rules would cost too many jobs, the UCP pledged to re­place the for­mer NDP gov­ern­ment’s Car­bon Com­pet­i­tive­ness In­cen­tive Reg­u­la­tion (CCIR) with the Tech­nol­ogy, In­no­va­tion and Emis­sions Re­duc­tion (TIER) pro­gram.

In­dus­tries that re­lease more than 100,000 tonnes of car­bon diox­ide yearly would have to re­duce their emis­sions by 10 per cent by ei­ther cut­ting emis­sions or pur­chas­ing cred­its from oth­ers, their elec­tion plat­form said.

Nixon said the pro­gram will ap­ply to the fa­cil­i­ties re­spon­si­ble for pro­duc­ing about 60 per cent of Al­berta’s emis­sions, and should re­duce car­bon emis­sions by 40-to-45 mega­tonnes by 2030 com­pared to tak­ing no ac­tion.

The UCP also cam­paigned on re­duc­ing the price of emis­sions to $20 a tonne from the cur­rent $30 a tonne.

The new sys­tem is sup­posed to take ef­fect Jan. 1, 2020. Leg­is­la­tion is com­ing within the first few weeks of the sit­ting, Nixon said.

NDP Op­po­si­tion house leader Deron Bilous was skep­ti­cal Mon­day of the TIER pro­gram’s abil­ity to sub­stan­tially re­duce emis­sions, say­ing the pro­posed regime sounds too much like for­mer Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment rules that made lit­tle progress in curb­ing pol­lu­tion.

“Peo­ple are de­mand­ing that gov­ern­ments take cli­mate change more se­ri­ously and take mean­ing­ful ac­tion,” Bilous said.

New Crown cor­po­ra­tion

On Tues­day, gov­ern­ment is ex­pected to in­tro­duce Bill 14: the Al­berta In­dige­nous Op­por­tu­ni­ties Cor­po­ra­tion Act.

It would cre­ate a new Crown cor­po­ra­tion to help In­dige­nous groups fi­nance ma­jor re­source de­vel­op­ment projects and pro­vide tech­ni­cal ex­per­tise.

The UCP’S plat­form promised a $24-mil­lion in­vest­ment in the ini­tia­tive over four years.

Bill 15 will be the Real Es­tate Amend­ment Act, the de­tails of which are un­der wraps un­til Wed­nes­day.

On the agenda is an Al­berta ver­sion of Clare’s Law, which would per­mit po­lice to dis­close a po­ten­tially vi­o­lent per­son’s crim­i­nal his­tory to a part­ner at risk of do­mes­tic abuse.

Law­mak­ers may also cel­e­brate Thanks­giv­ing with a bill re­spond­ing to an an­i­mal rights protest staged on a south­ern Al­berta turkey farm last month.

Tres­passers on agri­cul­tural land could face tougher penal­ties and foot the bill for in­tro­duc­ing any harm­ful in­fec­tions to live­stock, Premier Ja­son Ken­ney said last week.

An up­com­ing farm safety bill would also re­peal con­tro­ver­sial changes in­tro­duced by the for­mer NDP gov­ern­ment. Ken­ney cam­paigned on giv­ing farm­ers a choice of where to buy em­ployee work­place in­sur­ance, and ex­empt­ing small farms with three or fewer work­ers from leg­is­la­tion.

Ab­sent from the fall agenda, Nixon said, is leg­is­la­tion about pub­lic sec­tor em­ploy­ees. A blue-rib­bon panel ex­am­in­ing Al­berta’s spend­ing sug­gested leg­is­lat­ing pub­lic-sec­tor salaries to con­trol costs.

Af­ter MLAS pulled a cou­ple of all-nighters dur­ing the spring sit­ting, Nixon said he’ll be propos­ing new house rules that would im­pose end dates for vot­ing on bills. Based on rules in Saskatchew­an that re­quire a min­i­mum of 20 hours of de­bate, the changes would en­sure the Op­po­si­tion has a chance to raise con­cerns, Nixon said.

Bilous said such a move could limit all MLAS’ abil­i­ties to rep­re­sent their con­stituents or fil­i­buster to draw pub­lic at­ten­tion to an is­sue.

“It’s clear that this gov­ern­ment, this premier, is not in­ter­ested in de­bat­ing leg­is­la­tion,” Bilous said, point­ing to Ken­ney hand­ing out earplugs to MLAS dur­ing a lengthy de­bate last spring.

The gov­ern­ment’s first bud­get is com­ing on Oct. 24.

ja­son nixon

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