Saturday, April 19, 2008

Stelmach's Throne Speech Addresses Lots of Priority Concerns

I have spent some time studying the recent Alberta Speech from the Throne. It is worth your time to read it and reflect on the content and context.

There are the obvious focus elements on energy resources but in the context of sustainable development. There is a promise of provincial energy strategy focused on innovation, new sources and responsible energy use, efficiency and conservation. Balance needs to be restored and the Royalty Review issue is not really resolved yet and this energy strategy may help compensate for the short coming of the GOA respsonses.

The pace of development is noted as an on-going issue – particularly in terms of housing in Fort McMurray. The GOA holds the keys to unlocking this problem by releasing land to the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo so the servicing can get done and housing built. The cumulative effects of the growth challenge are now being considered and that is good news, especially for Edmonton and region with the pending impact of billions of dollars of upgrader construction.

The down side realities of the livestock and forest industries are going to be addressed as these folks are in dire straits. The need to look at the “cultural and economic importance of vibrant rural communities…” is noted and something I will be doing a number of posting on as I work on two new projects to get the SuperNet missing link to non-profits, local economies and rural Albertans through the Rural Alberta Development Fund and the Access to the Future Fund. These SuperNet based initiatives are foundational to Premier Stelmach realizing this Throne Speech aspiration...and he knows it.

Lots more coming this summer in consultations on Land Use Management and a new Parks Policy hopefully based on conservation, preservation, reclamation, water quality and quantity concerns and wildlife habitat protection as guiding principles – not just a negotiation of priority listing of users.

I am biased but if you look past the health care headlines in the MSM speech coverage, I see a lot of potential in this Throne Speech. There is a wide array of issues and concerns mentioned. It has the usually pomp and puffery but a careful read shows a definite and more progressive agenda and tone in this document. Now we need to see how it gets acted upon and if the agenda that we end up with is as comprehensive as the content of the Throne Speech indicates.

I will post again soon on some of the important social and cultural aspects of the Throne Speech that have not been covered much. Stay tuned.