You know there's an election coming up when the premier spends like a drunken sailor (in the tradition of Ralph Klein) and those promises have been coming fast and furious lately while Steady Eddy Stelmach hopes to hang onto his job. (Good luck with that!) As one reporter noted today, Alberta has had an influx of ~100,000 "immigrants" the past five years - not just from other countries, but from other provinces. Many of them had not had to suffer under decades of regressive Conservative rule in this province. On one hand then, they may throw their support behind these neanderthals if they're married to Conservative ideology or simply don't know any better about how the Cons have behaved in Alberta. On the other hand, the Liberals and NDP did make gains during the last election so the Conservative establishment here is nervous. And so it should be. Those new Alberta voters could bring much-needed change to a province mired in conservative orthodoxy for so long.
Probably the biggest news coming out of this year's speech is the promise by Stelmach to end health care premiums - a $900 million item that's long overdue. Charging premiums in this province, which has been drowning in oil money for decades, has been one of the Conservatives' most perverse taxes.
The move, which has been demanded by opposition parties and spending watchdogs for years, will save Alberta families $1,056 per year and individuals $528 annually. Municipalities, universities, schools and hospitals are expected to save more than $84 million annually.
Fellow Alberta blogger daveberta will also be following this race closely and here's a link to other Alberta blogs.
Updates as they come in...
- Kwong announced that health care premiums will be phased out over 4 years. That's just not fast enough.
- speaking of oil company money, Canadian Oil Sands profit quadruples. "Canadian Oil Sands said it earned $515-million, or $1.07 a unit, up from a year-earlier $128-million, or 27 cents a unit." That's just obscene.
- It's official: Steady Eddy just announced that our next election will be held March 3rd. Get out there and vote!