By Medicine Hat News Opinon on April 18, 2019.
Jason Kenney has created a daunting to-do list for the incoming United Conservative Party government.
After this week’s celebrations and the moving of furniture in the Alberta legislature, we’ll begin to find out how do-able it is.
Make no mistake, Conservatives have been champing at the bit to be back in government.
After four years of relentless criticism and heavy politicking against the New Democrat government of Rachel Notley, Albertans can probably expect fast action from the UCP.
They’re well resourced, well-connected, well-versed in the issues and, if they emulate their leader, they are first-class policy hawks.
It would be surprising if draft legislation for the so-called “summer of repeal” hasn’t already been drafted, and been sitting on the corner of some desk somewhere for some time.
A good example arrives from Ontario, where Doug Ford was only days in the premier’s office before he imposed his ideas for reforming city government in Toronto, throwing a civic election in Canada’s largest city into some disarray.
In the side-by-side comparison, Kenney appears more diplomatic, but no less, and perhaps even more, strategic.
During the Alberta election he promised aggressive action to move pipelines forward. There will be promised court-challenges on behalf of the energy industry and related projects and a social media war room to counteract opposition, taking on foreign groups.
Another long-standing promise is to repeal farm safety legislation that will by court order have to be replaced with something, and a repeal of the carbon levy, touching off a fight with Ottawa until at least this autumn’s expected federal election.
Amend minimum wage laws, re-examine changes to the Alberta power market two years into a four-year process. They will reset workplace standards and create a new lending corporation for First Nations resource development companies.
There’s a complete review slated for Alberta Health Services (the largest employer and single entity, private or public, in the province). They’ll halt new spending, lower corporate taxes and balance the budget.
Add to that several constitutional matters, and getting an export pipeline built.
Geez, Jason – a Washington, D.C. wonk might say – save something for your second term.
But are Albertans, or any voters anywhere, in the mood to wait four years for their concerns to be addressed?
Judging by the overwhelming vote totals on Tuesday, a sizable portion of the Alberta population will give a UCP government a longer leash than they did the NDP.
But, there’s a clear expectation of a fast reversal of fortunes.
From a referendum on equalization all the way down to relief for driving test examiners, people want action now, now, now.
The party, its supporters and the leader have repeated to no end that the “devastated” state of the Alberta economy requires swift and substantial action. Repeated just as often is that promise that the UCP can and will deliver.
It should be stated that there are a number of looming issues that the premier of Alberta – any premier of Alberta – will have little control over and little wiggle room.
The price of oil is one. Court decisions, actions of Ottawa and other provinces, the U.S. tax rate, the general flux of the modernizing economy and aging population are others.
Albertans love winners, and Jason Kenney hasn’t lost a race yet. Can he remake an Alberta economy and a provincial budget that was in trouble long before the last oil crash and the NDP’s assumption of government?
Can he meet the timeline that many of his voters expect?
After Kenney set the pace in a furious election campaign, another starting gun just sounded.
(Collin Gallant is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions.)
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