The United Conservatives have passed a lot of legislation and followed through on a host of promised reviews in the first 100 days since they took power in Alberta.
It still, however, needs to pivot from election mode to one of inclusive, sound, and open government.
There’s barely been a day gone by when news releases or statements from ministers and other officials aren’t prefaced with some up-front reference to the strength of the April election win, the “disastrous” decisions of the previous government and the UCPs stated goal of moving quickly on issues.
Albertans can probably accept spiking the football after a game-winning touchdown, but certainly less so when the end-zone dance continues into post-game press conference or next week’s game.
That’s what a good number of hardcore party supporters want, as do a number of hardcore detractors of the New Democrat opposition, and it is therefore good politics.
But is it the government that Albertans have been asking for over the past 10 years, during which the Progressive Conservatives were tarred for being too self-interested and then the New Democrats feathered for being too ideological?
Albertans during that time would prefer to see themselves as pragmatic, democratic, hardworking, even humble, problem solvers.
Today, the Jason Kenney-led Conservatives appear to be banking on a new brashness. It also appears to be working, but it risks cultivating the same sort of legitimate outrage that led to the PC ouster. The top complaint at the end was a lack of access to government decision making,
There’s barely an initiative launched or policy laid down by the previous government that’s not the subject of some level of immediate review by the UCP majority. They campaigned, and hard, on such action. They won majority mandate. Every incoming governing party re-evaluates the priorities of the last, and in general, its good policy to do so.
However, there’s no doubt heavy politicking still at work.
And good politics can also be at odds with good government.
This week a court of Queens Bench granted an injunction after the government passed laws to delay wage negotiations set for this year after most public sector workers accepted a two-year wage freeze.
Such a legal defeat could be sculpted into a political win for the UCP, but doesn’t in fact solve anything in the real world.
The hasty-looking announcement last week that the UCP would cancel proposed changes in the electricity market was held on an hour’s notice at the end of the day.
Farm safety consultations – branded “Farm Freedom and Safety” consultations – are taking place largely non-advertised locations. The opinions of environmental groups aren’t being entertained in development of a carbon pricing system for industrial emitters.
At this rate, should we wonder if urban residents will have any standing when new municipal government guidelines are developed?
While review, study and updating of plans is generally good policy, listening to only one set of voices on an issue, be they businesses, academics or industry, is terrible practice and will certainly lead to consternation.
And competing interests are more complex than you might think, especially when it comes to issues such the energy industry and rural communities, flood management and landowners, municipalities and the provincial government.
Without some deft management, it’s likely that Premier Jason Kenney will learn what Rachel Notley, Jim Prentice, Alison Redford and Ed Stelmach knew only too well over time.
Governing this province and the often contradictory expectations of its population can become a colossal headache no matter how many seats you hold.
This editorial was by Collin Gallant of the Medicine Hat News
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