Al­berta leg­is­la­ture ends what could be last sit­ting be­fore vote

Medicine Hat News - - UP FRONT -

ED­MON­TON Al­berta politi­cians have wrapped up what could be the fi­nal sit­ting of the cur­rent leg­is­la­ture, with all eyes now turn­ing to a pro­vin­cial elec­tion in the spring.

Premier Rachel Not­ley has com­mit­ted to hold­ing the elec­tion some­time next March, April or May, as man­dated in leg­is­la­tion, mean­ing the cam­paign could be­gin as early as Fe­bru­ary.

But she isn’t say­ing whether a spring sit­ting will be held or a bud­get in­tro­duced be­fore vot­ers go to the polls.

“I will com­mit to en­sur­ing that we con­sider all the op­tions that are avail­able to us to en­sure that Al­ber­tans have a good un­der­stand­ing of what their op­tions are be­fore we go into the next elec­tion,” Not­ley said Thurs­day prior to head­ing off to Mon­treal for a first min­is­ters meet­ing.

“The elec­tion will be held within the times that the cur­rent leg­is­la­tion sug­gests.”

Op­po­si­tion United Con­ser­va­tive Leader Ja­son Ken­ney said Not­ley’s poli­cies are dam­ag­ing Al­berta’s econ­omy and that the sooner the vote comes the bet­ter.

“This is a gov­ern­ment that has lost mas­sively the sup­port of Al­ber­tans,” said Ken­ney.

“It would be, I think, a huge mis­take for them to try to foist on Al­ber­tans as a lame duck gov­ern­ment a bud­get when their en­tire fis­cal plan is in tat­ters.”

Al­berta party house leader Greg Clark agreed the sooner the bet­ter.

But he said he wants to make sure vot­ers see the state of the prov­ince’s fi­nances when the third quar­ter up­date on the cur­rent bud­get is due to be pre­sented in late Fe­bru­ary.

“I think (the up­date) is go­ing to show the im­pact of the oil down­turn, and the gov­ern­ment shouldn’t use that as (po­lit­i­cal) cover,” said Clark.

“Al­ber­tans should be given full in­for­ma­tion with which to make a de­ci­sion at the bal­lot box.”

Al­berta Lib­eral Leader David Khan said he wants to see a spring sit­ting or at the very least a bud­get. He said Not­ley needs to show her plans be­fore seek­ing a re­newed man­date.

“One of the big prob­lems is they (the NDP) have not had a real plan to re­duce the deficit at all re­ally, and the debt keeps bal­loon­ing,” said Khan.

Al­berta’s frag­ile oil econ­omy has been buf­feted by stalled pipe­lines and trans­port bot­tle­necks in re­cent months, forc­ing the prov­ince this week to man­date oil pro­duc­tion cuts to keep prices from bot­tom­ing out.

The prov­ince’s econ­omy has been slowly re­bound­ing, but gov­ern­ment house leader Brian Ma­son said he un­der­stands hard times have rip­ple ef­fects

“There’s no ques­tion that when times are tough, peo­ple are a lit­tle harder on their gov­ern­ments,” said Ma­son.

“We know that. And it’s just go­ing to make us work that much harder.”

Ma­son said the gov­ern­ment had a suc­cess­ful sit­ting by cap­ping tu­itions, hik­ing pay­ments to the dis­abled, im­prov­ing pro­tec­tions for pa­tients to pre­vent sex­ual mis­con­duct by doc­tors, and pass­ing a new long-term fund­ing deal for Ed­mon­ton and Cal­gary.

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