The fall session of the Alberta Legislature begins this afternoon and it should be interesting.
With rumours of a fall election potentially starting to fade and and the potential for a spring election looking more likely, look for the parties inside and outside of the Assembly to try to capitalize on this session.
Here are some things to look forward to:
1) Ed Stelmach's Tories will be putting forward 24 Bills forward for the fall session which includes an agressive agenda on smoking-bans and speeding tickets (no legislation on royalties will make it this fall). The most controversial will no doubt be Bill 46.
Critics fear that under the premise of making the EUB more efficient, Bill 46 breaks up the EUB into two separate entities, the ERCB and AUC. The Bill then:
1. Gives the Alberta Utilities Commission the power to make orders and issue decisions without giving public notice or holding public hearings (section 9(1));If Ed Stelmach is smart, he'll let Dave Hancock do all the talking.
2. Gives the Alberta Utilities Commission the power to prevent landowners and consumers from making verbal representations to the Commission (section 9(4));
3. Limits the time period in which Albertans can appeal a decision or order made by the Alberta Utilities Commission to 30 days (section 29(2)).
4. Restricts the ability of landowners to hire outside legal counsel when intervening in regulatory hearings (section 9(4));
5. Corrects past misdeeds and wrongdoings by making this law retroactive to June 1 2003. Section 98(2)
2) As well as focusing in on Bill 46, Kevin Taft's Alberta Liberals will be putting forward a legislative agenda including a comprehensive housing strategy, labour-code reforms, and water protection.
They will also keep up the pressure on Ed Stelmach and Mel Knight so the issue of the billions of dollars of resource royalties the Tories failed to collect stays on the minds of Albertans (they've also put together a fancy map showing what those billions could have been used for).
The Alberta Liberal Caucus has also hired former Edmonton Journal reporter Larry Johnsrude as their new Caucus Communications Director.
3) Watch out for Drayton Valley-Calmar Tory MLA Tony Abbott. Abbott is a standard bearer for the right-wing in the Tory caucus and was defeated in his nomination for the next election. He could be unpredictable.
4) Watch for the Wild Rose Party to try to fill the void left by Paul Hinman's one-man Alberta Alliance caucus on the right flank. Don't count on it, but maybe we'll hear something from newly elected Social Credit leader Len Skowronski.
5) Look for the issue of the Stelmach Tories Public Affairs Bureau spending spree on a $145,000 infomercial and +$200,000 taxpayer funded partisan advertising campaign to make news through question period.