Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Alberta throne speech

The registry of lobbyists seems like a good idea. Overall the program seems a bit more progressive than Klein. Of course it is the details of his environment scheme that are important. The environmental costs of rapid oil sands development are very high but the US wants production there to increase five fold to decrease reliance on Middle East oil

Managing Alberta's growth tops throne speech
Last Updated: Wednesday, March 7, 2007 | 4:52 PM MT
CBC News
Premier Ed Stelmach's government is promising Albertans a plan to manage the province's rapid growth.

In a speech from the throne on Wednesday, Lt. Gov. Norman Kwong delivered the promise at the opening of the first legislative session under Stelmach, who became leader of the Tory party in December after Ralph Klein resigned.

Lt. Gov. Norman Kwong reads the throne speech at the Alberta legislature in Edmonton on Wednesday.
(Jason Scott/Canadian Press) "The government of Alberta has reinforced its determination to effectively manage the pressures that come with rapid economic growth," Kwong said.

"It will act decisively to minimize the price we are all paying for prosperity and address pressures on housing, labour, infrastructure and the environment."

By choosing "managing growth" as a theme, the Stelmach government seems determined to set itself apart from Klein, who admitted before leaving office that the government didn't have a plan to deal with the problems that came with the province's economic boom.

Initiatives outlined in the speech include:

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A crime reduction and safe communities task force that will consult with Albertans on how to "reduce crime and improve public confidence in the justice system."
Increased funding to help First Nations and M├ętis people improve their skills to help deal with the labour shortage.
An energy strategy that will focus on renewable resources such as wind power and bio-energy.
A new pharmaceutical strategy to improve the range of drugs that are available while trying to reduce costs.
$1.4 billion in new annual funding for municipalities, phased in over the next four years.
A long-term capital plan to address "infrastructure needs and inflation costs while exploring options to fund new capital projects."
Greenhouse gas emission intensity targets for industry.
The speech also included details about initiatives that are already underway, such as an affordable housing task force that is looking at the issue of homelessness and a review of non-renewable resource royalties.

However, Stelmach's first priority was an attempt to re-brand the provincial government as open and transparent.

Following the speech, Stelmach introduced the first bill of the session, which will lead to the creation of a registry of individuals and organizations that lobby the government, an idea that was routinely rejected by Klein

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