Nine take­aways from the fall leg­is­la­ture

In­side the whirl­wind six weeks

StarMetro Calgary - - CALGARY - KIERAN LEAV­ITT

ED­MON­TON—The fall sit­ting of the Al­berta leg­is­la­ture, which wrapped Thurs­day, was fu­elled by on­go­ing oil woes and dom­i­nated by pipe­line talk.

It’s po­ten­tially the last time MLAs take their seats in Ed­mon­ton be­fore the 2019 elec­tion cam­paign kicks off. An­other sit­ting could hap­pen in the spring, if an elec­tion isn’t called.

Be­sides key gov­ern­ment de­ci­sions and an oil cri­sis, there was drama, a party de­par­ture, an­tic­i­pated leg­is­la­tion left by the way­side and ac­tion at the in­de­pen­dent mem­bers’ end of the house.

Mean­while, of­fi­cial Op­po­si­tion Leader Ja­son Ken­ney called on the NDP gov­ern­ment to call the elec­tion by Feb. 1, mean­ing it would take place in early March.

“The next (leg­is­la­ture) ses­sion should be­long to Al­ber­tans,” Ken­ney said on Thurs­day.

1. THE OIL DIF­FER­EN­TIAL CRI­SIS

The gov­ern­ment watched the price of West­ern Cana­dian Select crude drop to stag­ger­ing lows, hov­er­ing around $14 a bar­rel.

The price of West Texas In­ter­me­di­ate was around $50 a bar­rel, and the dif­fer­ence put pres­sure on the gov­ern­ment to act.

The gov­ern­ment claims the dif­fer­en­tial is cost­ing the Cana­dian econ­omy $80 mil­lion ev­ery day and is hurt­ing Al­berta roy­al­ties.

2. PAR­TIES THINK­ING TO­GETHER

Ken­ney, along with the Al­berta Party, had called on the gov­ern­ment to en­force cur­tail­ment on the en­ergy in­dus­try be­fore the fi­nal de­ci­sion from Not­ley.

Af­ter Not­ley ap­pointed three spe­cial en­voys to meet with en­ergy in­dus­try lead­ers in Novem­ber to help sort out the dif­fer­en­tial, Ken­ney said he met with one, Brian Topp, to lay out his pro­posal of a 10-per-cent pro­duc­tion cur­tail­ment.

3. NDP CON­TRO­VER­SIES

The NDP faced down two sit­u­a­tions that shook up the leg­is­la­ture.

First, ex-NDP MLA Robyn Luff made some al­le­ga­tions that the gov­ern­ing party had a “cul­ture of fear” and that she felt bul­lied as a back­bencher.

Then the NDP said it had in­ves­ti­gated two al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual mis­con­duct against MLAs within the cau­cus since 2015. The gov­ern­ment main­tains the mat­ter was han­dled in­ter­nally through a third-party in­ves­ti­ga­tion and that the in­stances did not in­volve crim­i­nal con­duct.

4. NO LEG­IS­LA­TION TO BAN CON­VER­SION THER­APY

A highly an­tic­i­pated pri­vate mem­ber’s bill that was an­nounced in Septem­ber by NDP MLA for Ed­mon­ton-Cas­tle Downs Ni­cole Goehring, sought to ban con­ver­sion ther­apy. But the bill never made it to the leg­is­la­ture.

5. PIPELINES

The UCP of­ten slammed the NDP for its sup­posed anti-pipe­line ac­tiv­i­ties in the past. Of course, the gov­ern­ing NDP shot back that it had been try­ing to get a pipe­line through.

6. THE IN­DE­PEN­DENT COR­NER OF MLAS GROWS

Some call it po­lit­i­cal Siberia, some call it The Is­land of Mis­fit Toys, but the in­de­pen­dent cor­ner of the house wel­comed MLA Robyn Luff into the fold af­ter she was kicked out of the NDP cau­cus.

7. THE LAST PC

The fi­nal act of a 44-year po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty in Al­berta ended when the last Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive MLA still stand­ing de­cided to call it quits. The PCs were cleared out by a shock­ing NDP

land­slide in the 2015 elec­tion, but Richard Starke had al­ways main­tained his po­lit­i­cal stripe and re­fused to join other par­ties that came knock­ing.

8. LEG­IS­LA­TION PASSED

Gov­ern­ment house leader Brian Ma­son cited the rais­ing of As­sured In­come for the Se­verely Hand­i­capped (AISH) rates, cap­ping of tuition for post-se­condary stu­dents, the es­tab­lish­ment of a new fund­ing struc­ture for Ed­mon­ton and Cal­gary, and the bring­ing in of pro­tec­tion for med­i­cal pa­tients from sex­ual abuse — just to name a few.

9. KEN­NEY HAS RE­GRETS OVER HIS PAST

The UCP leader was asked about a clip from about 2000 float­ing around on­line of him talk­ing about cam­paign­ing to over­turn a law re­gard­ing ex­tend­ing hos­pi­tal vis­i­ta­tion rights for gay cou­ples in San Fran­cisco dur­ing the AIDS epi­demic.

Ken­ney said the cam­paign­ing was in 1989 and he said since the early 2000s, he had been a sup­porter of do­mes­tic part­ner ar­range­ments for cou­ples — re­gard­less of sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion.

“THE NEXT SES­SION SHOULD BE­LONG TO AL­BER­TANS.” Ja­son Ken­ney

JA­SON FRAN­SON/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Al­berta Pre­mier Rachel Not­ley, right, is greeted by Deputy Pre­mier of Al­berta and Min­is­ter of Health Sarah Hoff­man be­fore speak­ing to cabi­net mem­bers about an 8.7-per-cent oil pro­duc­tion cut to help deal with low prices.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.