UCP 'summer of repeal' begins as new legislature session starts
UCP MLAs will be sworn in Tuesday, followed by selection of the new speaker
Jason Kenney and his new United Conservative Party government will launch what the premier has called the "summer of repeal" when the 30th Alberta legislature starts Tuesday.
The UCP won 63 of the legislature's 87 seats in the April 16 election. Much of the new government's agenda will focus on undoing changes made by the previous NDP government.
Government House Leader Jason Nixon said the UCP intends to introduce about a dozen bills in a session that is scheduled until Aug. 1 but could end before the start of the Calgary Stampede on July 5, if the government passes its legislative agenda.
The first bill will be to repeal of the Alberta carbon tax, which came into effect on Jan. 1, 2017. Kenney said the carbon tax would end by the end of May.
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Kenney revealed some details in Bill 3 this week, which lays out the timeline for the government's tax cut to corporations from 12 to eight per cent by Jan. 1, 2022.
The government's other bills include the Open for Business Act, which would enact a lower $13 an hour minimum wage for youth under the age of 17. The bill also proposes to roll back two changes made under the NDP by restoring a secret ballot for all union certification votes, and bringing back a straight hour-to- hour exchange for banked overtime hours.
NDP Official Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said her caucus may filibuster changes to labour laws if the UCP tries to lower the minimum wage, cut overtime or infringe on union rights.
Nixon reminded Notley about the strong mandate the party received from Alberta voters
"The opposition is welcome to filibuster all they want," he said. "Albertans spoke on April 16 loud and clear. The legislature session will be primarily around platform promises and we're not going to bend on that."
The upcoming session will see a reversal in roles for Kenney and Notley.
After her government's defeat on April 16, Notley made an uncommon decision for former Canadian premiers by deciding not to step down as her party's leader.
Instead she has chosen to embrace her role as leader of the province's Official Opposition, whose 24 MLAs will serve as the only contrary voice in the legislature.
"Politics, I believe, is a form of public service where you contribute to the betterment of your province," Notley said last week, noting her father Grant Notley was the only NDP MLA in the legislature for more than a decade in the 1970s and 1980s.
"And this is the choice that Albertans made for us, that they want us to hold the government to account. And so I am looking forward to doing the job that they asked me to do."
Notley said her caucus will work with government whenever the opportunity is there but won't shy away from holding them to account.
The first order of business Tuesday will be the swearing-in ceremony for UCP MLAs. The NDP MLAs were sworn in on May 13.
MLAs will choose a new speaker Tuesday afternoon.
On Wednesday, the lieutenant-governor will read the speech from the throne, which will lay out the government's agenda.
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