UCP's 'Spring of Repeal' lives up to its billing as session ends
After a busy seven weeks, the spring session—and the first chance for Alberta’s new government to make its mark on the province—has wrapped up.
Friday was the last day of the sitting, which offered multiple headline-grabbing moments.
While many are familiar with mini-scandals revolving around desk thumping and earplugs, an Edmonton political scientist says the real issues this spring were two filibusters, an all-business mandate and a bill dubbed “Bill H8.”
“(The Opposition has) done a really good job at trying to hamper the government push to put forward this agenda,” Chaldeans Mensah said. “The NDP really mobilized forces outside the legislature to try and derail (Bill 8).”
The Education Amendment Act, which was the eighth item on the United Conservative legislative agenda, will replace the 31-year-old School Act. The new piece of legislation will govern everything from school attendance to district boundaries and trustee voting, but has garnered attention for what it doesn’t include: the same legal protections for gay-straight alliances in schools that were brought in by the NDP.
The UCP insists GSAs will still be protected under Bill 8.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley said while the bill includes provisions for the alliances, it dilutes the protections her party introduced and effective allows schools to delay setting up GSAs or inform parents if their children join one.
Bill 8 was the catalyst for the longest legislative sitting in Alberta's history, when the NDP filibustered the proposed legislation for a second time this spring.
But with its grasp of a large majority, the UCP was able to pass the Education Amendment Act.
“This session represented a change in direction for the province,” Mensah said. “It is bringing in all these bills to put a stamp on the province.”
That stamp is one focused on business and investment.
Although Kenney has implemented dozens of campaign promises, there are still some that haven’t been met—such as a campaign pledge to lower his salary and the salaries of his MLAs by 10 and five per cent respectively.
A statement issued Sunday by Kenney's office said salaries won't be discussed by a standing committee responsible for the cut until autumn at the earliest.
The fall sitting starts in October.