New beginnings at three levels of government

This week's editorial tackles changes in government in Ponoka, provincially and federally.

With the federal election out of the way and a new government coming in, now may be a good time to turn the focus to provincial and municipal politics.

Starting from the immediate neighbourhood, Ponoka Town Council has taken a decisive step in dismissing the CAO after apparently concluding that she didn’t live up to the expectations. The year she spent at her desk will have to be written off as a time of lost opportunities as her practices did nothing but complicate town’s relationships with many stakeholders, foremost among them, the county. Now that the major hurdle of bureaucratic stalling has been cleared, there is still enough time for the council to do a lot of good for the community if councillors can get their act together, as residents will be looking forward to seeing a more functional town leadership.

But to get there, given the importance of administrative staff in managing town’s affairs, we should all be first wishing lots of luck and wisdom to town council in recruiting the right candidate for the job.

As for the wider provincial platform, we have recently seen a few far reaching steps from the government of Rachel Notley: A new ministry has been created to focus on economic growth and development; two review boards have started working on oil and gas royalties and climate change, two key priorities for the province; and just last week a u-turn to a province-wide healthcare organization from regional health services was announced.

And all of this came fairly shortly before the announcement of widely expected (and belated) provincial budget.

As the budget figures come too late to be commented on in this editorial, we may speculate on the organizational setup that is emerging under the NDP government.

One can probably look at the latest announcements in two ways:

1) The government has wasted lots of time since their election in May and they are only now announcing their organizational restructuring, a clear indication of how sloppy this government will continue to work in the remaining time of their tenure;

2) The government was wise to take its time in deciding and announcing their steps in reorganizing the structure and workings of the departments; this is a good sign that they will not be rushed to making decisions and announcements before measuring the potential impact and repercussions.

Whichever way one may look at it, the fact is that decision-making is taking its time with the Notley government, and within a particular context, that might not have been a bad thing in itself.

Within just days of Notley government taking office, the 78-day federal election campaign was launched.

Could the provincial NDP leadership have preferred to wait until the clarification of the outcome of the federal election in order to announce the recent decisions and to finalize their budget?

What kind of considerations may have played a part in delaying a decision to create a whole new department within the cabinet for more than two months?

As citizens, we are not privy to that kind of information.

But a comparison of this government’s cautious approach to decision making to the blitzkrieg of announcements that followed the assumption of the post of premier by Jim Prentice may be telling something that both the electorate and the opposition should be listening carefully. This is not to say that as the main opposition Wildrose should extend a blank cheque of support to Notley and her cabinet, but perhaps to grant them a grace period, so to speak, instead of firing salvoes after every government announcement.

Whether federal, provincial or municipal, we need cool heads to prevail in our governments. With new beginnings at all three levels (considering a new CAO will have to be employed for the town), there is every reason to be hopeful for the future.


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