It’s been two years since Rachel Notley and the NDP were elected in Alberta and ended more than four decades of government under the Progressive Conservatives. Here is a look at what’s happened since:
May 5, 2015 — Election night. PC Leader Jim Prentice, as the results roll in sealing his party’s fate, announces he is quitting public life. Almost three weeks later, on May 24, Notley and her New Democrats are sworn in on the steps of the legislature.
June 15, 2015 — The NDP in its first session as government introduces a raft of changes, starting with a ban on corporate and union donations to political parties. It also increases taxes on higher-income earners, boosts the corporate tax rate and invests more in schools, hospitals and roads. Plans are launched to progressively increase Alberta’s minimum wage from $10.20 an hour to $15 an hour by 2018.
Oct. 27, 2015 — Finance Minister Joe Ceci introduces his first budget which projects a $6.1-billion deficit. He also tables a report recommending heavy spending on infrastructure, given Alberta’s strong financial foundation and low interest rates. The government delivers incentives to entrepreneurs and business people to grow and diversify the economy. Deficits will spike over $10 billion in each of the next two years as the province continues to build and fund services despite a prolonged slump in oil prices. The situation will lead major rating agencies to deliver warnings or credit downgrades.
Nov. 22, 2015 — Notley and Environment Minister Shannon Phillips lay out a climate-change plan that phases out coal-fired electricity, moves electricity deregulation to a capacity market and introduces a broad-based carbon tax. There also plans for incentives for green infrastructure and environmentally friendly products for homes and businesses.
Dec. 10, 2015 — Government passes controversial bill on farm safety that had sparked large protests by farmers at the legislature and threats to some members of Notley’s caucus. The legislation puts farms under occupational health and safety rules and gives paid farm labourers the right to workers’ compensation benefits. Some farm families worry the new rules will strangle farm operations in red tape and costs, as well as doom the traditional family farm.
Jan. 29, 2016 — Notley releases a panel report that says Albertans are getting their fair share of oil and gas royalties. Notley accepts the findings despite the NDP saying while in opposition that Albertans were being shortchanged.
May 3, 2016 — A wildfire rides a shift in wind and races right through Fort McMurray, burning 10 per cent of the community and hundreds of homes. It forces the evacuation of the entire city for a month.
June 17, 2016 — Organizers of a golf tournament in Brooks, Alta., use a blow-up photo of Notley’s face as a target and later apologize as an image of it circulates on social media. The controversy underscores a proliferation of the harassment and online abuse of Notley and other women in her cabinet. Weeks later, Wildrose Opposition Leader Brian Jean jokes about assaulting Notley. He also apologizes. The NDP is not immune to making attacks. Health Minister Sarah Hoffman, in March 2017, compares Wildrose supporters to sewer rats. She apologizes.
Nov. 17, 2016 — PC legislature member Sandra Jansen quits her party’s caucus and crosses the floor to the NDP. She cites attacks and abuse from other PCs because she has socially progressive views. She says she feels more at home with the New Democrats.
Nov. 29, 2016 — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announces pipeline approvals, including the Trans Mountain expansion, to get more Alberta crude to tankers on the B.C. coast. Trudeau notes the work of Notley and points to her climate-change plans.
Dec. 1, 2016 — The government announces it will strike an all-party committee to investigate flaws in the child-care system. The decision comes after it is revealed there has been little to no progress for two years in the case of a four-year-old named Serenity, who died from traumatic brain injuries while in government care.
Feb. 24, 2017 — Finance Minister Joe Ceci announces pay cuts for executives at agencies, boards and commissions.
March 8, 2017 — Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley, dealing with criminal cases being tossed out of court due to delays, publicizes a new case management protocol for prosecutors. She urges them to focus on violent crimes and put less emphasis on minor offences and major, time-consuming fraud cases.
March 18, 2017 — Alberta Progressive Conservatives select former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney as their new leader. Kenney immediately begins to implement his central campaign promise, with the assistance of Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean, to begin negotiations to merge the two parties in time for the 2019 election.
© 2017 The Canadian Press