Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft was joined last night by hundreds of supporters and over 50 candidates as he launched his party's 2008 election campaign. The campaign launch also included the release of his party's plan for Alberta titled "It's time. A Real Action Plan for Alberta."
Having given the platform a read, I'm fairly pleased with it. It succeeds in presenting positive alternatives to Ed Stelmach's 37-year-old Tory government and outlines five key policies including immediately eliminating health care premiums, re-regulating Alberta's out-of-control electricity utilities, investing 30% of all royalties, capping greenhouse gases in five years, and providing hospitals and training new health care professionals that Alberta needs. On a more specific note, I was pleased to see that this plan includes the re-legislation of Alberta's post-secondary tuition policy, which was de-legislated by the Tories in May 2007 (allowing tuition policy to be changed in closed-door Cabinet meetings rather than in open public debate in the Legislature). The plan also includes reforming campaign finance rules, fixing election dates, and the creating a Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform to study other forms of election systems.
Not unexpectedly, Tory spinsters have already begun to criticize Taft's plan for either:
a) including too much spending, orBoth criticisms seem a little rich when you look at the pile of giant novelty cheques that Ed Stelmach has been handing out over the past two weeks.
b) not including enough spending details.
It has also been interesting to watch the difference between the Kevin Taft of the 2004 election and Kevin Taft in 2008. Taft has become more comfortable in his role in public and is starting to show his fun-side during speeches by energizing and interacting more with the crowd (something that he should do more of during the upcoming campaign). Here's one quote of the speech that I particularly enjoyed:
Is it any wonder then, that the issue over-riding all others is that after 37 years, it is time for a fresh start. This morning, on national radio, Peter Lougheed was asked, “Can one party be in power too long?”With a growing group of Albertans (and former Tory voters) parking their votes in the undecided column in pre-election polls, Taft's challenge will be to convince those Albertans that he and his party can provide the solid management and real plan that Albertans are looking for after 37-years under Progressive Conservative governments.
His answer? (Quote.) “Never did I anticipate that our party would exceed the time in office that Social Credit were in office. I remember campaigning back in 1971 – can you believe this Social Credit party has been in office for 36 years. It is a problem for the current party to be in office for that length of time.” (End quote.)
And I say, and all of us say, and Albertans in growing numbers are saying, let’s... fix... that... problem.
Here are the YouTube videos of Kevin Taft's 2008 election campaign launch: