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Thursday, March 08, 2007

pomping the speech from the throne.

This afternoon Lt. Governor Norman Kwong delivered Alberta's Speech from the Throne. Being the first Speech from the Throne of the Tory Government under Ed Stelmach, I made sure I was there to see it happen.

Anyone who knows anything about the Speech from the Throne will know that it has more to do with pomp, ceremony, and feel goodery than actual substance or policy. Though brief mentions of policy poped up from time to time in Kwong's long speech (the delivery was a little slow) it stuck to formula.

Much of the Speech centered around Stelmach's "Five Priorities" (All of which seem fairly common sensicle).

  • governing with integrity and transparency;
  • managing growth pressures;
  • improving Albertans’ quality of life;
  • providing safe and secure communities; and
  • building a strong Alberta.
More substantial points include the creation of a long-needed lobbyist registry, finally dealing with the affordable housing and economic growth crisis, and review of the resource royalty system (all of which had been previously announced).

The Stelmach Tories are now appearing to be jumping on the now all-popular "green" bandwagon with the announcement of the creation of a long-term energy strategy and greenhouse gas emission regulation. Feel goodery aside, I'm not convinced that the Alberta Tories have any real sincere intention to take substantial action on the environment or climate change file. I'll believe it when I see real action.

This Speech remains atypical of most other speech's of this type. Hopefully the Spring Session will be a little more exciting.

And of course, the scrums and schmoozing in the Rotunda is where the real action is.

Of note:
- Thanks to the Alberta NDP caucus for my invitation to the Visitor's Gallery and for letting me in to their pre-Speech Reception at the Legislature Annex.
- Tom Olsen was sporting a slick new suit. I'm sure he's making a better salary at taxpayer expense than the Calgary Herald would ever afford him.
- Fred Horne is Dave Hancock's new Executive Assistant. Horne ran for the Tories in Edmonton Riverview against Alberta Liberal Leader Kevin Taft. Horne recieved 22% of the vote to Taft's 65%.
- Lots of new Ministers with new hangers on.
- Lots of old Ministers with no hangers on.
- I'm still shocked and disappointed at the job that Todd Babiuk is doing as the Edmonton Journal's Legislative Columnist while Graham Thomson is on assignment in Afghanistan. COME BACK, GRAHAM!
- And I think Norman Kwong likes the attention he gets when he enters a room.


Bob McInnis said...

I haven't ever voted Tory but I was pleased and encouraged by the Throne Speech. While I didn't agree with all the priorities or actions, I was impressed that we have a plan and a vision (refreshingly so after 13 years of Ralpdum). I was particularly happy to see the Community Spirit of Giving campaign that could change the way we see charitable services delivered in Albera.

Anonymous said...

Plan and vision? What plan and vision?

The best I can see in this Throne Speech is a plan to make a plan and a vision to develop a vision.

I agree on Babiuk, never thought I'd want to see Thomson back. Aside from a bit of cheerleading for Taft, the guy makes Thomson look edgy.

Anonymous said...

I'm sad to agree with you Dave. I was expecting a grander vision for Alberta from our new Premier, but this speech stays in the "keep it safe" category.

Stelmach has an opportunity to dream big and point Alberta in a positive direction. This Speech simply addresses issues that should have been addressed years ago (Lobbyist registry, climate change, affordable Housing, and the Royalty Review).

Anonymous said...

Cut Babiak some slack. This political commentary stuff is a very different world than the arts and culture side where he comes from.

I like the change and think he is doing a pretty good job. He is bringing more observant and thoughtful analysis to the issues than most political columnists. (think Jane Taber for i.e.)

We often just get political commentary as personality - "Hot and Not", and a score card mentality - "Winners, Whiners and Losers."

The closest thing we get to analysis and a search for meaning is trend commentary usually tied to poll results. It is as if politicians were like people on elevators. They think there are only two kinds of politicians - those who are up and coming and those who are down and on there way out.

Babiak is taking positions on issues and disecting policies and while he may not have the background a guy like Graham does, he is doing things differently.

I am enjoying the experiment.

Anonymous said...

Ken, with respect, I don't think Todd needs any more slack cut for him. His columns almost write themselves, they're filled with empty assertions that aren't backed up by any meaningful analysis, and worst of all, they're just plain boring. He doesn't challenge his readers at all.

It's too bad, because Todd is a good writer. His "Leggie Tales" posts on his blog are very interesting. But I don't think he's cut out for the gig of political affairs writer. At least not yet.

I never thought I'd want Thomson back...

Anonymous said...

I agree with the second anonymouse. Babiuk did a great job with his books and fiction writing, but I'm just not sure giving him the task of being the Legislative columnist in the first session of the Spring of Stelmach is giving Edmonton Journal readers justice.

Agreed. Thomson should come back pronto.

Bogg said...

It's funny how Albertans are more than willing to let Ed try to clean up and reinvigorate the Tories as they continue to govern this province, but spoke strongly against Paul Martin's similar desire.

Anonymous said...

Todd was actually told NOT TO DO A LEGISLATURE COLUMN. That's why he's not doing one.

Anonymous said...

Well then, mission accomplished.

But really, isn't that just what the Alberta Legislature needs - Less scrutiny.