Gateway Gazette - Kicking into high gear for the Fall Legislative Session

 

Kicking Into High Gear for the Fall Legislative Session

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by Pat Stier, MLA

It’s mid October – time to kick into gear for the fall session in the Alberta Legislature. As MLA for Livingstone-Macleod, I plan to follow through on the commitment I made during the election to hold government to account.

A primary concern for the Wildrose Official Opposition is getting through the problems caused by E. coli contamination and the layoff of workers at the XL Foods plant in Brooks. Getting the plant open and in conformance to safety requirements is key to rebuilding confidence in the beef industry.

The Wildrose Official Opposition has called for an investigation to find out what went wrong and to help rebuild confidence in the industry. Alberta beef is a premium product and will continue to be so after safety issues are resolved and workers are back to work.

With a projected $3 billion deficit, another key priority heading into the fall sitting will be pressuring the government to improve its haphazard finances. This is unacceptable in a province blessed with such abundant natural resources. If families and businesses balance their books, so too can the government.

It’s no wonder the Macdonald – Laurier Institute recently ranked Alberta as the province most at risk of a European-style debt crisis over the next 30 years. The report identified high spending, persistent deficits, and a reliance on volatile energy revenues as contributing to Alberta’s bleak fiscal picture in the years ahead.

Taxpayers deserve honesty from their government, and failing to balance the books shows this government is growing more out of touch with Albertans.

As the Canadian Taxpayers Federation pointed out, this government’s first quarter fiscal update failed to provide us with the hard numbers we are used to seeing. Instead, PCs dumbed it down with a flashy format, and claimed Albertans aren’t capable of understanding the hard numbers.

Albertans have relied on these detailed balance sheets since Jim Dinning brought forward the Government Accountability Act 19 years ago as a way to keep tabs on government spending. Now, Premier Redford has decreased the transparency of her government by hiding the detailed numbers.

Alberta’s Auditor General Merwan Saher has launched an investigation to uncover if Premier Redford’s government broke the law with its first quarter update. I will continue to advocate for Albertans to see the hard numbers, not just the glossy presentation.

A third priority for the Wildrose Official Opposition will be pressuring the government to bring greater accountability and transparency. Albertans were disgusted by some recent ethical lapses by the PC government, including when it rehired Allaudin Merali as Provincial controller, then Chief Financial Officer of Alberta Health Services, after he already had been found to have abused taxpayer dollars.

Pressure from media forced his resignation, and hopefully taught the government to be better stewards with taxpayer money.

As MLA, I plan to hold government to account for its decisions. Please contact my office at 403-646-6256 or toll-free at 1-800-565-0962 if you have any questions or concerns.