Thursday, November 15, 2007

Premier Stelmach Shows What Good Socially Progressive and Fiscally Conservative Government is All About This Week.

This has been a good week for Albertans and yours truly.

Tobacco Reduction Act Passes:
Our government has moved decisively on third reading of Bill 45 to prohibit smoking in public and work places. This will improve the quality of life, save lives and tax money form tobacco related disease over time. I have been working professionally with the coalition organized to get this legislation passed. Congratulations to Dave Hancock, Alberta’s Minister of Health and Wellness for this great political and policy accomplishment.

Public Good Exemption in Lobbyists Act for Voluntary Sector:
Next we see our government has moved to exempt public-good non-profit/voluntary organizations from the requirements of the new Lobbyists Act. That means volunteers and staff people in these various community based and charitable organizations do not have to worry about what they say to whom about what in the government when it comes to their good works.

This was the position expressed by the Muttart Foundation and Volunteer Alberta’s brief to the government on the Lobbyists Act. I wrote the Volunteer Alberta brief pointing out the proposed legislation would cause a chill in the volunteer community because it was so harsh and inappropriately drafted. This new Public-Good Exemption amendment to Bill 1, the Lobbyists was also proposed by Dave Hancock and will undoubtedly pass in this session. Congratulations once again.

Teachers Unfunded Pension Liability Issue Finally Resolved:
Now today Premier Stelmach resolves the final debt obligation of the province, the unfunded pension liability for Alberta teachers. This has been a perennial problem that has been bungled by the Klein government and Dr. Lyle Oberg in his former capacity as Minister of Learning. This matter has been one of the most unfair and long time outstanding labour issues that Klein and Oberg used as a punishment for a past teachers strike.

Full disclosure, over the past three years, I have worked from time to time on this matter on behalf of the Alberta Teachers Association. I know Dave Hancock has been working on this issue for years behind the scenes too. But the credit for this progressive step in good government and the saving of some $48B in accrued taxpayer costs over time goes to Premier Stelmach and the leadership of the ATA.

It has been a pretty good week for socially progressive and fiscally conservative government everything considered.