Summer sitting winds down after two overnight debate sessions
Standing next to a stack of 34 government bills and one UCP backbencher bill, Premier Jason Kenney recapped the summer sitting, which wrapped up after an evening session that lasted until 8 a.m. on Wednesday.
The spring-turned-summer sitting kicked off in February and, unlike most provincial legislatures, continued more or less unabated throughout the pandemic and into the dog days of summer.
“This year has been unlike anything our province has seen in more than a century,” Premier Jason Kenney said. “That’s why I’m so proud that when politicians across the country were at home, Alberta’s government was at work, delivering for Albertans.”
The result was a hodgepodge of government legislation, including public health and economic responses to the pandemic, follow-through on court decisions and fulfilment of the UCP’s election promises.
Ultimately, Alberta passed more legislation than anywhere else in Canada this year.
Kenney said the UCP delivered on 93 platform commitments, or 68 per cent of them, less than a third of the way through its four-year mandate.
“As long as I’m breathing you ain’t heard the last of me yet,” government house leader Jason Nixon said, quoting lyrics from George Jones’s “I’m a Survivor.”
Nixon said the song sums up Albertans’ determination and economic endurance during the pandemic.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley had a different take on the sitting.
She accused the UCP of using the pandemic to ram through its agenda “in the middle of the night, in the middle of the summer.”
“They should have the courage to have those bills debated fully, wholesomely in the light of day,” she said.
Kenney boasted about his government’s $14-billion response to the pandemic, but Notley said that money hasn’t helped bring back jobs — instead it has aided already profitable corporations at the expense of the most vulnerable.
She slammed the government for laying off 30,000 educational assistants through a tweet, picking a fight with doctors, shelling out $7.5 billion for a “pipeline to nowhere,” and introducing unconstitutional legislation designed to “pick workers’ pockets” and bust unions.
Of the more than 100 legislative amendments proposed by the NDP — including five within 40 minutes of debate on Bill 30, Health Statutes Amendment Act — only one passed, a date change in the Protecting Survivors of Human Trafficking Act. Five UCP-proposed amendments passed.