New legislature session starts with UCP at helm

Alberta’s new premier and the United Conservative caucus were sworn in Tuesday as the Alberta legislature resumed for the first time since the election.

Sixty-three United Conservative MLAs were sworn in alongside Premier Jason Kenney.

“I know it can be—as a new member—awe-inspiring and perhaps a bit intimidating, the first time you walk up the steps of the legislature and through the marble halls, to imagine that we are somehow worthy of serving in this great institution,” Kenney told the members of his government.

“We must never forget it is a deep privilege to govern and serve on behalf of all 4.3 million citizens who call Alberta home.”

In his remarks, the premier congratulated the MLAs on their election as a “young, diverse and impressive reflection of our province today.”  

He promised the government would work to renew free markets, free enterprise and democratic capitalism, while maintaining the quality of public services.

“We will do our very best to succeed in these endeavours, but, if and when we fall short, as we undoubtedly will at some occasions, we will learn from our mistakes and we will redouble our efforts to deliver on our commitments to Alberta.”

Kenney ended his speech with a similar message to the one his party championed throughout its election campaign: “Let’s get back to work.”

The throne speech will be delivered Wednesday, after which a bill to repeal Alberta’s carbon tax is expected to be introduced.

In its first sitting, the UCP government plans to table about a dozen bills, including proposals to change the minimum wage for youth workers, reduce red tape, and to cut the corporate tax.

The party has called the session the “Spring of Renewal.”

A full budget from the new government is expected in the fall. 

A new speaker of the legislative assembly will also be chosen, making Tuesday’s session Robert Wanner’s last as that role.  

“There is much talk, and there will be, about the importance of the individual in competition. It’s absolutely a key part of our society. However, I suggest to you there is another opportunity you have in this house, and that is to cooperation,” Wanner advised new MLAs.

“You will learn across the aisle that there are very many, many people there that you quite like and respect and you might even agree with some of their ideas. And so I say to you… I hope, and pray, that the contributions that you make to this province will make us all stronger.”

The results of a secret ballot to elect a new speaker will be revealed at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.