What to Expect
The week ahead is a busy one. The UCP caucus is currently on a retreat in Sylvan Lake where Premier Smith says she will meet one-on-one with all MLAs to help set the legislative priorities for the coming session which will likely begin around November 29. The exercise will also be important in ensuring the party stays united, and in determining the makeup of Cabinet, which will be announced this Friday and sworn in Monday the 24th.
Following that important announcement, the UCP’s AGM will begin on Friday and run through Sunday. Like the caucus retreat, the AGM will provide Premier Smith with an important opportunity to put her stamp on the party and ensure it stays unified in message, tone, and priorities.
Predicting the exact makeup of cabinet is an almost impossible task. A myriad of considerations come into play when building a Cabinet, including rewarding supporters and ensuring geographic and demographic balance. There may also be continuity in some key portfolios as the Premier prepares for the spring election. That being said, Premier Smith has stated that rural Alberta did not have a strong enough voice in Cabinet, and that may be reflected in the makeup.
Before the AGM, Premier Smith will address the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, where it is expected she will lay out her economic priorities.
The Week That Was
On October 11, Danielle Smith was officially sworn in as Premier. At her first press conference, she clarified some aspects of the Alberta Sovereignty Act (it would not prescribe that the Government of Alberta ignore Supreme Court rulings). She spoke about her health care priorities, including promising to change the governance structure of Alberta Health Services before the end of the year following a third-party review and replacing Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw with a new panel of advisors. She also committed to providing “reinforcements” for frontline workers and argued the centralization of EMS delivery was not working.
Following the resignation of MLA Michaela Frey, a byelection has been called for the Brooks-Medicine Hat riding and is set to take place on November 8. Premier Danielle Smith, Alberta Party leader and former Brooks Mayor Barry Morishita, and NDP Gwendolin Dirk will be on the ballot.
On Wednesday, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro announced that that “a legally mandated inquiry into the federal government’s decision to invoke the Emergencies Act will begin on October 13” and that the provincial government has “filed notice to intervene in legal challenges initiated against the federal government by the Canadian Constitution Foundation and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association earlier this year.”
United in their opposition to the federal use of provincial police resources, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, New Brunswick, and Yukon have called on the federal government to halt plans to use scarce RCMP and municipal police resources to confiscate legally acquired firearms and ensure that funding intended for public safety initiatives (such as the Guns and Gang Violence Action Fund) will not be redirected to the federal firearms confiscation program.