While the new government has been off to a bumpy start, they will likely get a better handle on things as they settle in. The Wildrose Opposition understands this and will work with the NDP through its learning curve; nevertheless we will hold them to account.
For example, the NDP already tried to turn its taxpayer-funded swearing-in ceremony into a partisan fundraiser. We called the new premier out on this, and while they claimed innocence at first, they did eventually apologize to Albertans and backtrack on trying to raise money out of the event. Good on the new premier for accepting responsibility and admitting to an error.
This is the way government and opposition are supposed to work; when the government makes a mistake, the opposition calls them out and pressures them to correct course.
This is not to say that the NDP will always change course, even when doing so would be wise. The Wildrose and NDP have starkly different outlooks on public policy, particularly fiscal and energy policy.
The NDP has already announced that it will not introduce its own budget this spring but will instead seek to pass an ‘interim supply bill’ and bring forward its full budget in the fall.
In my new role as the Wildrose Shadow Minister of Finance, it is my job to lead the scrutiny of the government’s spending plan. If the NDP ask the Legislature for temporary authorization for $10-$15 billion dollars to fund the government until they can pass their own budget, I will work with them. However, I will fight for a proper accounting of how this money is being spent and not hand them a blank cheque.
The NDP platform was not given the same scrutiny as the Wildrose and other platforms during the election campaign. It contains many spending promises that just don’t add up. It promises to accelerate the PC platform’s plan to raise taxes, increase spending and take on more debt.
Either the NDP will have to backtrack on some of their spending promises or raise taxes and the debt by even more than they promised to. Unless oil prices make a comeback, there are bound to be some broken promises.
Some of those promises – like a Quebec-style government daycare bureaucracy – sound nice on paper. However, they have the potential to bankrupt the province, which already spends far more than most other provinces in Canada. Raising taxes during an economic downturn – along with other retrograde policies, have the very real potential to make the economic situation much worse.
This is where the Wildrose Opposition must represent the views of the 21 constituencies in which we were elected as MLAs and bring forward common-sense alternative policies for debate in the Legislature.