GEORGE BROWN – Off the Record
The Canadian Community Newspapers Association (CCNA) Ink and Beyond conference was held just a few days after Albertans decided to vote for change and re-elect Alison Redford’s Progressive Conservative government. Upon introduction, newspaper editors and publishers from across the country wondered at my luck to have the readership of both the Ponoka News and Rimbey Review elect rookie Wildrose MLAs.
It’s interesting that for different reasons, perhaps, Lacombe-Ponoka voters saw by voting for Rod Fox a direct opportunity to express their displeasure with Ray Prins and the pay he received from the notorious “no meet” committee. In Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre, voters chose firebrand Joe Anglin over the tired and true blue Ty Lund. Did our constituents get it wrong or are they ahead of the curve and leading the next wave of conservatism in Alberta?
Regardless, we have two enthusiastic representatives eager to make their mark in provincial politics: Fox hasn’t missed an opportunity to meet his constituents over a greasy burger; and Anglin has been doing what he does best — poking a stick in the electrical power hornet’s nest. I expect over the next four years residents in our two constituencies will see a lot of the premieress and her cabinetry as they try to reclaim these seats.
Just what the new look Alberta government has in store we’ll find out this week with the throne speech. We shouldn’t expect a lot in this abbreviated spring session; our new MLAs are a tired lot after campaigning unofficially for the better part of a year. They’ll get their seat assignments, committee responsibilities and then out the door to an endless summer of barbecues and golf tournaments meant to reacquaint the MLAs with hoi polloi and begin to refill their war chest.
Opposition leader Danielle Smith has a few good ideas to make our MLAs’ time more effective and responsive to Albertans. Smith sent a letter to Redford in which she offered to work to bring “civility and decorum” to the legislature. A novel concept to be sure. She also wants more questions for her Wildrose party during question period, and a day dedicated to issues raised by the opposition parties. Albertans clearly chose to be represented in the legislature by a variety of political parties and the ruling PC party needs to ensure they are heard with more opportunities in the legislature and in committees.
Redford may have a learned a thing or two after her slim leadership victory and unexpected majority government election. We’ve seen a bit of a government re-organization reflected in a reduced cabinet with several new faces but real change — whatever that is — will be seen as legislation is introduced in the fall.