New legislature session starts with UCP at helm
Published Tuesday, May 21, 2019 12:14PM MDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 21, 2019 6:58PM MDT
Tuesday marked the first day of the 30th session of the Alberta legislature, a session the new UCP government—with plans to reverse a number of NDP policies—has nicknamed the “Spring of Renewal.”
Sixty-three United Conservative MLAs were sworn in alongside Premier Jason Kenney Tuesday morning.
“I know it can be—as a new member—awe-inspiring and perhaps a bit intimidating, the first time you walk up the steps of the legislature and through the marble halls, to imagine that we are somehow worthy of serving in this great institution,” Kenney told the members of his government.
“We must never forget it is a deep privilege to govern and serve on behalf of all 4.3 million citizens who call Alberta home.”
In his remarks, the premier congratulated the MLAs on their election as a “young, diverse and impressive reflection of our province today.”
He promised the government would work to renew free markets, free enterprise and democratic capitalism, while maintaining the quality of public services.
“We will do our very best to succeed in these endeavors, but, if and when we fall short, as we undoubtedly will at some occasions, we will learn from our mistakes and we will redouble our efforts to deliver on our commitments to Alberta.”
Kenney ended his speech with a similar message to the one his party championed throughout its election campaign: “Let’s get back to work.”
The government’s first order of business was electing a new speaker of the legislative assembly, UCP MLA for Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills Nathan Cooper.
He won the majority of 87 ballots in a vote against NDP MLA Heather Sweet.
Departing speaker Robert Wanner advised the new government to prioritize cooperation between both sides of the legislative aisle.
“I hope, and pray, that the contributions that you make to this province will make us all stronger.”
Those contributions will begin Wednesday, after the throne speech is delivered.
According to UCP House Leader Jason Nixon, the party’s first bill will be the Carbon Tax Repeal Act, followed by the Open for Business Act and the Job Creation Tax Cut.
“Passing the Carbon Tax Repeal Act will mean that ordinary people will no longer be punished for heating their homes and driving to work,” Nixon said, calling the levy an “economic pain with no environmental gain.”
Nixon expects the government will move a dozen pieces of legislation in its first sitting and before delivering a full budget in the fall.
The party’s plans are expected to be disputed by the NDP opposition—especially the carbon tax repeal.
“We understand that some people didn’t like the carbon tax but we also know that Albertans want a real plan to address climate change and act now for future generations,” NDP House Leader Deron Bilous said.
He criticized the UCP’s plan to undo the carbon levy as “opening the door” for a federally imposed carbon tax and rejection of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. However, he denied the opposition would unnecessarily delay the legislation.
“We are going to be an opposition that is strategic,” Bilous said. “We’re not going to filibuster just in the sake of filibustering.”
The government will reveal more of its legislative agenda on Wednesday, during the speech from the throne.
With files from Timm Bruch