Alberta Minute: Standing Committees, MacKinnon Report, and TMX Delays

Alberta Minute – Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.

Alberta Legislature by IQRemix on Flickr

This Week In Alberta:

  • There are three Standing Committee Meetings scheduled for the week ahead. On Tuesday and Wednesday there will be a Standing Committee on Public Accounts, and on Thursday there will be a Standing Committee on the Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts will be reviewing Service Alberta’s Annual Report and the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General’s Annual Report while Thursday’s Alberta Heritage Savings Trust Fund meeting will cover the Fund’s 1st Quarter Report.
  • The Summer of Ministerial Tours continues with Alberta’s Justice Minister touring rural Alberta. The tour is focused on rural crime, and as such will involve meeting with individual residents, business owners, rural crime watch groups, and local officials to hear first-hand their rural crime concerns. With all the hand-shaking, baby-kissing, touring being done it’s a good thing Ministers aren’t needed to provide any input on plans for the fall legislative session…
  • The Minister of Tourism will be hosting a series of “free” (free for attendees, not taxpayers!) seminars for new tourism startups, aimed at “training entrepreneurs wanting to build a tourism business”. Seven seminars are scheduled over the coming weeks and are now open for registration – because there’s nothing more fiscally conservative than having the government teaching the business of business to business owners, right?

 

Last Week In Alberta:

  • The MacKinnon Panel on Alberta’s Finances released their report which recommended ways to eliminate waste, duplication and non-essential spending. The report echoed what many think tanks have been saying for years: Alberta’s per-capita spending is (and has been for 20 years) the highest in Canada, and that if Alberta matched the average per-capita spending of Canada’s three largest provinces – Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia – we would have a $3.7-billion surplus instead of a $6.7-billion annual operating deficit. While it’s great that we now have a government-sponsored report reaffirming things we’ve known for years, we still need the government to actually make the tough decisions. Plus, even if we implement every single recommendation of the report, Alberta’s deficit won’t be eliminated until 2045. It’s almost as if the per-capita spending levels of BC, ON, and QC are also grossly unsustainable!
  • Energy project delays dominated both federal and provincial news with the Federal Court of Appeal ruling on Wednesday that 6 of 12 legal challenges brought by opponents of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project would be allowed to proceed. Perhaps most frustratingly, the Federal Government decided to not even provide any argument against the legal challenges, making it far easier for the court to grant leave for the appeals. On the Provincial front, the Province has started its review of the Alberta Energy Regulator, which currently takes four times longer than competing jurisdictions to approve projects.
  • Finally, on Friday, the Alberta government won its appeal against the AUPE’s Bill 9 injunction. Bill 9, the Public Sector Wage Arbitration Deferral Act, faced a court challenge because the AUPE claimed it nullifies the collective terms agreed to in the last set of bargaining by delaying scheduled wage arbitration talks for three collective agreements. Finance Minister Travis Toews called the decision “a win” for Alberta taxpayers.