Commentary by Richard Froese
Already at the end of the first month in 2016, our province and nation certainly have new faces from one year ago, at least on the political scene.
Conservative governments were turfed last year as the Liberals won a majority in the federal election Oct. 19 as Canadians ousted the Conservative government after 10 years.
That came after the provincial election in May when the New Democratic Party crushed the Progressive Conservatives which ruled Alberta for almost 44 years.
For the first time in Canadian history, no provincial or federal government is led by a party with the word conservative in its name. However, the Liberal Party of British Columbia and the Saskatchewan Party are considered right-leaning conservative in their policies and platform.
During these tough economic times, how will the provincial NDP government and the federal Liberal government manage to meet the needs of its citizens and work together with communities and municipalities to sustain essential services?
Both these governments made lots of good and positive promises during the election campaigns.
But will they be able to carry through on many of those so-called promises since the economy has taken a deeper fall since they were elected?
Provincially, the NDP government will likely have to renege on many of its promises. Recent reports in the Edmonton Journal indicate that Premier Rachel Notley may have second thoughts about resurrecting the Summer Temporary Employment Program [STEP] that she announced in early November, just a week after its first budget.
Ditched by the previous government in 2012, STEP was a valuable program for local community organizations and governments, and the news last November was widely welcome.
However, with the declining economy, Notley and the NDP may have to “STEP” back in time and postpone her plans. We’ll have to wait until the spring budget is announced in February or March.
If you disagree with the STEP down, let the government know in its budget survey as it did to prepare the budget last November.
Despite the further downturn in the economy, both Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau campaigned on a pillar to work with deficit budgets. Taxpayers and voters may be caught holding the bill.
Especially when economic times are tough, how can any election candidate, party and leader make promises unless they know they can absolutely meet those targets and deadlines?
Nobody firmly knows the future, especially governments. While the energy and gas and oil industry has had much of the attention as the economic engine of the province, all is not lost as that industry has tanked. Agriculture, forestry and tourism are three sectors that are helping sustain the Alberta economy and communities where these industries are located.
Thank the low Canadian dollar for keeping Canadians at home and drawing tourists from America and foreign countries. Thousands of Canadians have lost their jobs in the past year; many still looking for work while collecting employment insurance.
So how will everyone get back on the payroll?
What are the next steps to get the Canadian economy back on track, without relying on one industry?