Opposition hoping for clarity from Redford’s address
Published Thursday, January 24, 2013 1:11PM MST
Last Updated Thursday, January 24, 2013 6:53PM MST
In the hours leading up to Premier Alison Redford’s highly anticipated televised address to Albertans, political pundits and leaders of other parties are weighing in on what the eight-minute address will contain – and how the premier will relay her message.
It’s the first time Premier Redford will utilize such a medium to communicate with Albertans, following in the footsteps of other premiers including Ralph Klein, who often addressed Albertans directly.
“This was quite effective in Ralph Klein’s day when he used this many different times,” Political Scientist Duane Bratt said.
While Bratt was skeptical on the potential success of the speech, he admitted Albertans will have to wait to see how Redford does.
“I don’t think she’s got the communication skills that Klein did, but we’ll have to see tonight.”
The planned address comes after Premier Redford and Finance Minister Doug Horner have both warned the budget could suffer, as the province is not gaining as much revenue from the sale of bitumen as expected.
Redford has hinted the speech will focus on the state of Alberta’s economy – in an e-mail sent out Wednesday to Progressive Conservative Party members, Redford said the party will hold the line on spending.
However, Bratt believes she needs to be more specific Thursday evening.
“There’s got to be some detail in here, she can’t just say ‘Wait for our budget in March, and we’ll make some choices then’,” Bratt said. “I think she has to outline what the choices are at this stage, otherwise there’s no sense in going before the people.”
Leaders of the opposition parties agree.
Official Opposition and Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith said she hopes to hear answers to questions her party has been asking the government for some time.
“I suppose, like a lot of Albertans, we’re looking forward to hearing what she had to say,” Smith said. “She’s been running away from answering questions on the issue of the budget and what she’s going to be doing about it for over a year, so hopefully we’ll get a little clarity in her address.”
“Redford can say ‘Listen, we screwed up, we made a mistake’, she can say that,” Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said. “You know what we’ve got to talk about, taxes, and we’ve got to take away a lot of irresponsible spending promises.”
In the end, the leaders of the New Democratic Party, Wildrose Party and the Liberals believe the speech could lay the foundation for a budget that doesn’t include a number of election promises made by the PCs during the last election.
“No tax increases and no service cuts,” NDP Leader Brian Mason said. “Those were very clear, it was in their advertising, that is how they won the election and it’s clear to me that they mislead Albertans about the state of the province’s finances.”
The projected deficit in the upcoming budget is expected to be as high as $3 billion.
The provincial budget will be tabled in the legislature on March 7.
The premier’s address will air tonight at 6:50 p.m., immediately following CTV News at Six – and will also be streaming live online.
With files from Susan Amerongen