Alberta Minute: Referendum Opportunity, Summer Reopening, and Taxpayers On The Hook Again
Alberta Minute - Your weekly one-minute summary of Alberta politics.
This Week In Alberta:
- The Legislature will start this week with Question Period this afternoon, followed by Second Reading of Bill 70 (COVID-19 Related Measures Act), and continue until Thursday afternoon, when the Legislature is likely to break for Summer.
- In Committee news, the Special Standing Committee on Members' Services will meet today from 10:00 am to 11:00 am to consider expenditure guidelines and sign language interpretation. On Tuesday from 8:00 am to 10:00 am, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts will meet to discuss the Ministry of Energy's 2019-2020 Annual Report and Auditor General recommendations.
- Though the pace has been slowing in recent days, it is likely that Alberta will hit the government's 70% first-dose vaccination target sometime this week. This would mean Stage 3 would start sometime in the week of June 28th. We don’t know about you, but we're ready to go about our normal lives again, but we are concerned about some reports of municipalities planning to keep many restrictions even after the Province removes theirs.
Last Week In Alberta:
- The government launched Stage 2 of their reopening plan on Thursday, permitting indoor dining and larger outdoor gatherings. Libraries, arenas, cinemas, theatres, museums, art galleries and recreation centres were also allowed to reopen with some restrictions. There's still some weird rules though: technically at a restaurant, people from different households can dine together but only if they stay 2 meters apart. Anyone know any restaurants with massive tables?
- TC Energy announced that the Keystone XL pipeline project is officially dead and the company will move to wrap up the loose ends. That means that the $1.3 billion that Alberta taxpayers were on the hook for is now definitely gone. This is just another example of why corporate welfare (a.k.a. the government buying a stake in the pipeline) doesn't work. Shareholders should take the risks and governments should focus on providing the right business environment.
- The government introduced a motion in the Legislature on Monday to hold an equalization referendum concurrently with the municipal elections this fall. We've known the referendum was coming for a while, but now we know the final wording. Alberta, of course, does not have the power to remove the principle of equalization payments from the Constitution alone, but a strong Yes vote will put the rest of the country on notice and creates a legal obligation for the federal government to at least negotiate in good faith.
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