Redford’s Throne Speech: Deja Vu All Over Again

At last, we have the Throne Speech setting out Redford’s agenda.  It was eagerly anticipated by all (okay by some…well maybe a few) and finally it’s here for all of us (okay, a few of us) to dissect and discover exactly what Redford has in store for us over the coming months.

It started with the usual fanfare, literally.  That’s the beauty of reading the Throne Speech in Hansard, it comes complete with stage directions:  [The Premier, the Clerk, and the Sergeant-at-Arms left the Chamber to attend the Lieutenant Governor]  [The Mace was draped]  [A fanfare of trumpets sounded] [Preceded by the Sergeant-at-Arms, His Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Colonel (Retired) Donald S. Ethell…and Mrs Ethell, their party, the Premier, and the Clerk entered the Chamber.  His Honour took his place upon the Throne]*

Gives you goose bumps, doesn’t it.

The Lieutenant Governor couldn’t resist commenting on the fact that Alberta was blessed with a female Premier and a female Leader of the Official Opposition.  “They’re taking over the world”. [laughter]* 

And then…the speech.  And what a strangely insipid speech it was.  Here, judge for yourself:

  • Global economic recovery is underway (really?) and demand for our energy and skills will grow.
  • Albertans chose to “engage with the world around them and through investment and innovation [Alberta will] play a leading role in making our world a better place”. (Read: wisely voted PC not Wildrose).
  • The government will find the right balance between progressive and conservative thinking.  (Shot across the Wildrose bow—the PC’s intend to occupy both the centre and the right of the political spectrum).
  • Examples of progressive thinking are subsidized child care payments and more family care clinics (notwithstanding the Alberta Medical Association’s legitimate concern that FCCs will cannibalize existing primary care clinics).
  • Examples of conservative thinking are no new taxes, no sales tax and multiyear budgets to control public spending. (Read: public services will continue to be dependent on revenue from the extraction of fossil fuels and budgets (and people) will live or die based on the success, or lack thereof, of the oil and gas industry).
  • There will be greater openness and transparency in government (this would be a good thing if it really happens).
  • Critical public sectors—education, health and municipal services—will receive stable funding in the form of three year budgets.  (Hopefully the public has forgotten that the last Premier and his health minister, Mr Zwozdesky, rebuffed all criticism of the health portfolio by touting their five year budget for healthcare, oops.)
  • Business will have even greater “freedom” to “operate without interference” because the government will “simplify regulatory burdens” while at the same time advancing world-leading resource stewardship and responsive natural resource development   (that’s confusing if not downright contradictory).
  • Redford will push the Canadian energy strategy with the provinces and pursue improved environmental monitoring with the Feds to create a “comprehensive, transparent and scientifically credible system”  (ie. she’ll continue the dialogue to promote fossil fuels in the face of growing resistance from BC and ongoing efforts by the Feds to hack federal environmental monitoring to shreds).                

Redford pitched her government as the government of change.  One that’s responsive Albertans’ desire “…to look forward…to look outward…to be citizens of the world”**but there’s nothing new here, just the same old reliance on fossil fuel revenue coupled with the same old tinkering with public services, notably healthcare and education.  This strategy failed Albertans in the era of Klein and Stelmach and there’s nothing in the Throne Speech to indicate that it will succeed today.

[Preceded by the Sergeant-at-Arms, Their Honours, their party, and the Premier left the Chamber as a fanfare of trumpets sounded]  [The Mace was uncovered] [The Premier returned to the Chamber].***

And the business of governing carried on just as before.

* Hansard May 24, 2012, p 5

**Calgary Herald, May 25, 2012, p A11

***Hansard May 24, 2012, p 11

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2 Responses to Redford’s Throne Speech: Deja Vu All Over Again

  1. Carlos Beca says:

    Susan the throne speech in itself is always a useless document. It has been made even more useless in the last few years because the spin doctors now are more prominent and they make it a crossword puzzle where no one knows where to find the missing words.

    I generally do not comment on this document because I think that it is a waste of time, but being your post and with your comments it becomes a little more interesting.

    Basically what she is saying is: we will have another 4 years and then some of us get a good handshake because the changes we are going to make are of course for the rookie MLAs.
    They are entering a time of increased revenues due to the end of the construction of some megaprojects and so they will once again not revise the royalties because Albertans will be innundated with good news of billions hiting the coffers. In the meantime we will find ways to spend it again and nothing will go into the Fund one more time. They will wait for the next boom, this time with Chinese money and possible fast tracked Chinese workers.
    Finding the right balance between conservative and progressive means lower taxes for corporations and less benefits for the population because we will have a deficit again. In the meantime a couple hundred million for the arena and the museum will keep us so grateful we live in a rich province.
    As far as more transparency means again that the black lines keep increasing in numbers in the FOIP requested documents. No real inquiries in scandals because it is not necessary. After all we are all adults and we respect each other. There was never doctor harrassment in this province and the thought of it is sacriledge.
    The gpvernment will simplify regulatory burdens is what it has always meant – we close our eyes to any pollution controls and will leave the crap to be cleaned up in the future when we have the next boom.
    Yes this all sounds very negative but give me an example in what I wrote that has not been what has happened in the last two decades. It is negative and sarcastic because this province is extremely bad governed since around 1982. The one think we can brag about is that we are the one jurusdiction in the world that does not mind giving its resources to anybody that wants it and for almost nothing. We do not even attempt to create better jobs with better value products. As long as we can sell it so some people can have a very rich life that is good enough. I seriously doubt Alison Redford is going to be any different. We do not want to spook the oil masters anyway.

  2. Carlos, I share your skepticism. I was disappointed that there was so little in the Throne Speech. And what was there was said in such general language that it will be difficult to hold the government accountable for their Throne Speech promises. But I suppose that was the intention all along. I’m looking forward to seeing what the opposition parties have to say. There wasn’t much in the press other than the Danielle Smith questioning why Redford decided to open an office in Ottawa (in my view it’s a waste of money–she’ll fly to Ottawa when she has to). And Raj Sherman saying that the speech lacked specifics, which was true. It’s going to be a long 4 years! Thanks Carlos.

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