Well, as promised, here is my recap of what went on at the Budget 2005 announcement at the Alberta Legislature this afternoon - a BIG THANKS to my favorite MLA for getting me a pass for the afternoon. : )
Well, this budget was labeled by the Tories as an investment budget, the first budget of the new debt-free Alberta. The air of excitement never caught on. These guys have been in power for 34 years and it shows. No new ideas...
So, instead of giving you budget details which you can easily find here, here, and here, I decided to give you a recap of my exciting adventure at Budget Day 2005 in Edmonton.
Enter scene: Cloudy spring day in Edmonton, Alberta. No sun, just clouds (it had rained the night before).
2:10pm - Left work, hopped on the LRT at University Station and waited 5 minutes for the LRT to show up...
2:20pm - Finally arrive at Grandin LRT Station, get off and run over to the Legislature Annex to pick up my pass for the Public Gallery. Got it! Yeah! Talk to some people I know and shoot the breeze for 5 minutes.
2:40pm - I run over to the main Legislature building with a friend of mine who works over there, get in (pretty lax security). On the elevator ride up to the fourth floor.
2:45pm - I join some people I know, in the Public Gallery overlooking the MLA's in the Assembly. The MLA's below are debating about snowmobiles or something... Tory MLA Wayne Cao says something about restaurants…?
2:50pm - Talk about an upcoming Federal Election begins amoungst us. Someone said they thought the Tories could win up to 5 seats in Quebec, someone else said they thought the election would be in mid-May. I still think it'll be in the fall.
2:55pm - Speaker of the House, Ken Kowalski calls for a 5 minutes recess before the Budget announcement by the Finance Minister.
3:00pm - MLA's start filling back in to their seats. ND MLA Ray Martin is in a wheelchair (I think someone said that he broke his leg - that sucks). More people begin filling into the Members and Public Galleries. I notice the disproportionately large amount of white haired men presumably over the age of 60 in the Galleries.
3:05pm - Finance Minister Shirley McClellan begins her speech. I notice that a rep from the Alberta Federation of Labour is sitting next to me and some folks from the good ol’ Parkland Institute are sitting in the row in front of me.
3:10pm – Promises, promises, promises…
3:25pm – Shirley McClellan is still talking. Tories cheer. Man, she's boring. I think the next time the Tories pick a Finance Minister, they need to pick someone with a little more ‘ompf’ than Mrs. McClellan. I think the perfect person would be...
3:30pm – Shirley McClellan is still talking and I think one of the old guys in the Members Gallery across from me has fallen asleep. I try to count the amount of grey haired MLA's in the Assembly. I lose count.
3:35pm – Shirley McClellan is still talking. I notice that one of my favorite Tory MLA’s has been conspicuously missing from his seat the entire time… hmmmm, very very very interesting.
3:40pm – It’s finally rapping up… Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft responds to the speech, says he looks forward to the debate beginning tomorrow morning.
3:44pm – We all file out, I say hi to Dan McLellan from the AUPE. He doesn’t remember me.
3:48pm – I take the stairs down to the Rotunda to check out all the media scrums going on. There are probably a few hundred reporters, MLA’s and staffers, spies and Tory goons, and political hacks like me wandering around. I listen to some of the scrums - Education Minister Gene Zwozdesky, Health Minister Iris Evans, the Finance Minister, and the gang. ND MLA David Eggen has a nice tie (yellow and blue), I like it.
4:00pm – I’m really thirsty, need a drink. I go and find a water fountain. Come back and the orgy of scrumming is still going on. I bump into Edmonton Gold Bar MLA Hugh MacDonald. We say hi and he asks me if I’ve seen some reporter from the CBC, I say no, he continues his hunt.
4:07pm - I go and check out what Advanced Ed Minister Dave Hancock is saying (He’s organizing for a bid at the Tory Leadership). I get semi-accosted by one of Mr. Hancock’s goons; he wants to know who I am, who I work for, and why I want to listen. What a nice man. :P After my beating, I got to meet Mr. Hancock. He seems like an interesting person. I think he must have dyed his hair at least 7 different times and colours since being elected in 1997. Out of all the Tories here in Alberta, he is the only one which I (grudgingly) *like*… I move on…
4:12pm- I run into Liberal MLA’s David Swann and Weslyn Mather, the critics for Environment and Childrens’ Services. Nothing for their departments in the budget... I guess clean air and cute kids (see the picture in my previous post) aren’t good enough for this budget… I have a nice little chat with the two of them...
4:22pm – I continue to mull around and check out the scrums. Things are starting to wind down, still no Ted Morton. To bad, I wanted to say hi.
4:29pm – Things are really winding down. I’m hungry, time to go home and get something to eat. (I exit stage left)