After a question and answer sessions with party leaders and several cabinet ministers at the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties (AAMD&C) conference held in Edmonton last week, Premier Allison Redford took the stage to talk about Alberta, challenges the province faces, and the future.
“I’m proud of the fact that we’re a government with a record of supporting municipalities,” she said.
Although Redford and her party didn’t campaign on running a debt, at the conference she announced that with the worsening economy she’s considering taking the province back into debt to pay for her election promises.
“It is not something that we talked about during the campaign because that wasn’t the fiscal reality during the campaign,” said Redford.
With the population expected to continually grow, Redford believes Alberta and Albertans need to be supported on several different levels, including agriculture, infrastructure and commodities such as land and water.
“People don’t come here to make a living, they come here to have what we have. They come here to make a life,” said Redford. “People coming aren’t bringing their own roads, they aren’t bringing their own hospitals and they aren’t bringing their own schools.”
Redford feels infrastructure is vital in Alberta and maintaining that will have a cost. However, she won’t shy away from those who oppose this and believes a consistent, transparent government is key. “We always said we would build infrastructure for the future.”
Once Redford moved past Alberta’s infrastructure challenges, she discussed Alberta’s roots—agriculture. “In rural Alberta success begins with agriculture.”
Redford believes it’s important to keep the traditions of agriculture alive and invest in it. This doesn’t only include exporting products but also land use and water management as well as supporting industry, producers and research.
She also talked about Bill 2, which stirred some feelings at the conference. “Bill 2 is dangerous,” said New Democratic Party leader Brian Mason.
“Right now, in the House, we’re debating Bill 2. And it will … protect property rights,” said Redford.
Redford said Bill 2 will ensure those whose land is needed by industry will be treated fairly and people will be informed if their land is needed.
With Bill 2, regulators will be there to enforce compliance from industry. Landowners and industry will be able to balance their interests, Redford said.
However, Redford said, supporting everything Alberta needs will take time and resources. “We’re always going to have issues. The challenge is how do we work together to make things better?”