From new property rights laws to term limits, more schools and a new AHS board: What Jim Prentice promised

Calgary Herald September 7, 2014

Jim Prentice has won the PC leadership race and will soon become the province’s 16th premier.

“Under my leadership, our new Progressive Conservative government will begin immediately to address the people’s priorities,” the premier designate said Saturday evening in his victory speech.

“I am at the table now.”

So what will he do in the top political job in the province?

Here’s a snapshot of some of his biggest promises made on the campaign trail:

ATB: Earlier this week, Prentice told the Herald he will not sell Alberta Treasury Branches.

Byelection: As Prentice is not a sitting MLA, he’s said he will call a byelection quickly to gain a seat in the legislature. It’s unclear where he will run, but he’s ruled out running in Calgary-Elbow, Alison Redford’s former riding.

Debt and Infrastructure: Has pledged to cap Alberta’s infrastructure debt and would publish a semi-annual progress report on Alberta’s infrastructure projects. He has not specified a precise cap, but said, “The numbers that I have seen on the existing infrastructure plan are in the vicinity of $20 billion, (but) until I’m at the table, and can scrutinize it and prioritize the plan, I don’t know if that will be the number or not.”

Entitlements: Prentice pledged to stop untendered “sole source” contracts handed to outside consultants, and says he will end “lobbyists being hired as consultants” by government. Says he will increase cooling off periods for ministerial staff and public service employees, and eliminate automatic severances.

Fiscal Policy: Prentice would put half of all future government surpluses into a debt retirement fund, and the other half would go into the Alberta Heritage Trust Fund. He vows to put a cap on the province’s infrastructure debt, but he hasn’t said what the cap would be. He would not raise taxes.

Greenhouse gas carbon levy: Says he will not increase the current $15 a tonne carbon levy on heavy emitters in Alberta.

Health care: Vows to reinstate a board of directors for AHS, the health superboard, and increase local autonomy for regional health advisory boards. He has promised to spend money to install sprinklers in seniors lodges. The province estimates it will cost $250 million to install sprinklers in all seniors lodges built before 1990, when the regulations didn’t require them. Prentice has also said he will review the province taking over ambulance dispatch services in Calgary.

Oil and Pipelines: Prentice says the next premier of Alberta will play a “critical” role in getting a west coast pipeline built, and pledged to enter direct talks with aboriginal groups who are affected by the pipeline.

Property rights: In May, Prentice told Medicine Hat residents he will introduce a bill affirming the rights of property owners in cases where their land is taken for public purposes. He says the Alberta Energy Regulator is not yet meeting needs of either the energy industry or landowners. Prentice said he will ensure farmers and ranchers directly and adversely affected by adjoining energy operations will have legal standing at hearings.

Schools: In June, Prentice said he would re-prioritize Alberta’s capital infrastructure plan to build more than 40 new schools that the province needs — in addition to the existing commitment from the PC government to build 50 schools and modernize 70 more.

Size of cabinet: Prentice say he will reduce the size of cabinet, although it’s unclear how small it will be. In the last major Redford cabinet shuffle in December, there were 30 cabinet ministers and associates.

Term limits: Prentice says term limits will be set at three terms for MLAs and two terms for the Premier. However, current MLAs will be grandfathered under this system, so the new rules won’t apply to them.

Source: Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal, Prentice campaign website.