Aboriginal Relations, Innovation & Advanced Education
The Alberta Legislature is a new and interesting world for our PC Opposition Caucus. With nine members, we are officially known as the “third party,” a position that provides us with plenty of opportunity to ask questions of the government, and provide constructive solutions while debating legislation.
The first order of business when the House convened in June was to elect a new Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and Chair of Committees. I was honoured that my colleagues put forward my name for each of the three positions. In doing so, they noted my experience (I am the second-longest member of the House), statesmanship, and my successful legislative record. In fact, due to my positive relationships with other parties, I have had more private member bills and motions passed than anyone in the House today.
As expected, all three of the key Legislature roles went to newly elected NDP members. Still, I was honoured to have been considered for each of the positions.
Above, speaking in the House; Below, congratulating Speaker Bob Wanner.
Over the next four years, I will continue to use all of the experience I have gained during my past three terms and as the former Associate Minister of Wellness to perform the work in my critic portfolios of Aboriginal Relations and Innovation & Advanced Education. I have already consulted widely with post-secondary leaders and reached out to First Nations’ and Metis communities.
As an example of the effect a critic can have on the government’s agenda, on June 18 I asked the Premier about her government’s plans for implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report. She had nothing to offer that day, but four days later, she rose in the House to offer an apology to Alberta’s First Nations people for the residential school system.
Throughout this coming term, I will also bring forward important issues for Calgary-Lougheed. For instance, on June 23 I asked about government’s commitment to the South West Ring Road and to building schools promised for Calgary-Lougheed.
Our PC Caucus’s overarching plan is to offer an approach that re-balances the NDP’s leftwing agenda. During the post-election session, our caucus strongly opposed NDP’s ultimately successful legislation that raised corporate taxes, increased the minimum wage, and added $800 million in spending.
We will also continue to promote the Progressive Conservative economic plan that was designed to sustain Alberta through an economic downturn and put us on a firm fiscal foundation for the future. We were well on our way to implementing this plan which Alberta in a superb financial foundation, as evidenced by the $1 billion surplus for the 2014-15 fiscal year, as well as $8 billion in the contingency fund, and $18 billion in the Heritage Fund.
Furthermore, my caucus colleague, Rick Fraser, has introduced Bill 201, which would legislate savings through use of the Heritage Fund. Bill 201 passed first reading and will return in the fall. I was proud to have spoken to the bill as the Heritage Fund is a uniquely Alberta initiative created by Peter Lougheed, our legendary PC Premier.
Moving forward, our caucus vows to continue this common-sense, balanced approach to all pieces of legislation, as well as the upcoming NDP budget. As I noted, the opposition role is a new one for our caucus, but we have the experience and expertise to help ensure Alberta doesn’t stray from its centrist roots.
Please email or phone my Edmonton office (780.644.2520) if you have any comments or questions.