EDMONTON, AB (April 23, 2013): One-year ago today the Wildrose became the Official Opposition and since then has proven to be one of the strongest oppositions in Alberta’s history by fighting for balanced budgets, better health care and education and putting Albertans first.
The Wildrose managed to leverage significant victories from the PC government by identifying their poor decision making and providing a positive alternative vision for the province:
- Parental Choice in Education – The Wildrose won a significant victory for Alberta’s education system during the fall session by securing the paramount rights of parents to educate their children. The PC government had previously resisted Wildrose changes in earlier editions of the legislation.
- Home-cooked Meals and Two Showers-per-Week for Seniors – In June 2012, Wildrose Seniors Critic Kerry Towle pressured the government to end the practice of trucking in precooked meals for 73 seniors’ facilities across the province. By the end of the month, the government reversed its policy. In the fall, Towle also pressured the government to end its practice of only allowing seniors one shower a week in continuing care facilities and by the spring the government conceded changing its policy to two baths a week.
- Faster Twinning of Highway 63 – The Wildrose repeatedly demanded an accelerated timeline for Highway 63 shortly after the election, here, here and here and finally issued a report demanding a deadline on twinning the highway. A day later a deadline was finally announced.
- Stronger Government Expense Rules – The Wildrose had long advocated for an expense policy that was publicly disclosed. After being mired in expense scandals, the government finally adopted Wildrose policy in September 2012.
- Free Hospital Parking for Veterans – Three days after saying the AHS decision to cancel discounted parking for Veterans was “the right decision”, Health Minister Fred Horne and AHS listened to the Wildrose and Albertans by reversing the decision.
- Transparency on Illegal Campaign Donations – The Wildrose exposed over $40,000 in illegal donations accepted by the PC party by pushing the government to make changes to the Electoral Finances and Disclosure Act. The Wildrose continues to stand for stronger electoral reform, including closing the ‘Katz loophole’ and ending corporate and union donations.
- Wildrose Financial Recovery Plan – The Wildrose rightly predicted that the Alison Wonderland 2012-13 budget was built on fantasy and warned of the current financial shortfall in June. This year’s budget includes $5.5 billion deficit, with $17 billion in debt by 2016. The Wildrose Financial Recovery Plan outlines how the Wildrose would reduce government spending by a further $2.9 billion this year alone and return Alberta to a cash surplus by 2014.
- 10-Year Debt-Free Capital Plan – While the PC back-in-debt budget relies on borrowing to pay for capital, the Wildrose 10-Year Debt-Free Capital Plan invests $50 billion over the next ten years, would create an infrastructure priority list and saves taxpayer money through innovation, all without going back into debt.
- Strengthening the Justice System – As a result of the bravery of Dani Polsom, a victim of an Airdrie sex-assault whose case was thrown out due to court delays, and pressure from Wildrose MLA Rob Anderson and the Wildrose Caucus, a report was issued by the Justice department that admitted the system failed the victim and proposed recommendations to improve the system.
- Reversal on Bill 50 – In the fall session, the PC government finally repealed Bill 50 that stripped the rights of landowners and put them in the hands of cabinet after years of Wildrose fighting to protect the property rights of Albertans. However, transmission lines approved under Bill 50 are still being pushed ahead despite there being no independent needs based assessment approving the lines.
- Repayment of Private Mayo Clinic Treatment – After revealing that a former COO with Capital Health expensed private medical treatment at the Mayo Clnic in Rochester, MN, Wildrose MLAs insist the $7,000 treatment be repaid. The PCs initially denied it ever happened, calling the Wildrose revelation “imaginary”. Days later, and after considerable public outrage over queue-jumping, the PCs reversed course and the money was repaid to taxpayers.
The Wildrose was also widely commended for exposing government waste, ethical breaches and providing Albertans with a legitimate government in waiting by the next election: “Her party has groomed a front-bench that dominate the media and have, in many cases, driven the government agenda from across the aisle. Rarely a week goes by where Ms. Smith, Rob Anderson, Shayne Saskiw, Kerry Towle, Bruce McAllister, or Heather Forsyth have not grabbed a headline or a prime time news story.” – Dave Cournoyer, daveberta.ca, April 23, 2013 “What matters is whether the Tories are managing their own prime-time performance, and how good a job the opposition is doing holding the government to account. Based on the fall and spring sittings, they’ve [the Opposition] been doing a bang-up job.” – Dave Breakenridge, Calgary Sun, April 22, 2013 “The PCs face a merciless opposition in the 17-member Wildrose caucus.” – Don Braid, Calgary Herald, April 20, 2013 “…What we have seen since then is a remarkably focused and tenacious opposition, arguably the most effective since the Liberal opposition under Laurence Decore in the 1990s… The Wildrose has also injected something we haven’t seen in Alberta politics in years: passion.” –Graham Thomson, Edmonton Journal, April 20, 2013 “Today the Wildrose has 17 MLAs who, even government officials will admit, have united to become an effective opposition.” – Graham Thomson, Edmonton Journal, December 12, 2013 “The opposition's role is to oppose, expose and propose. That's been lacking for too long in this province and is finally, at long last, taking place. The Tories aren't used to it and they aren't handling it well.” – Licia Corbella, Calgary Herald, December 7, 2012 “They [the PCs] don’t have an overall strategy and they’re facing a fierce opposition that does have a strategy.” – David Taras, National Post, December 6, 2012 “So when Wildrose provided them with an opposition, they [the PC] had no way to respond to it creatively.” - Barry Cooper, National Post December 6, 2012