From today's Edmonton Journal.
Remember the election when everybody but the Tories stated that their projections on the price of oil were unrealistic? Does not seem that long ago does it? Anybody seen that bumper sticker "Please give us another boom and we promise we won't piss it away"
EDMONTON - Premier Alison Redford is dusting off a political tactic perfected by predecessor Ralph Klein.
She will address Albertans in a state-of-the-province-style TV address Thursday night.
The pre-recorded, eight-minute segment will be broadcast at the end of the CTV supper hour news in Edmonton and Calgary. Redford will focus on the effect of rapidly falling resource revenues on Alberta’s finances.
In a message to Progressive Conservative party members Wednesday afternoon, Redford said the address will “begin a conversation with Albertans about the challenges” the province faces.
Since late December, she and her cabinet ministers have publicly warned that Alberta’s landlocked heavy oil is earning about $50 a barrel less than the world’s benchmark for sweet crude, which has walloped provincial revenues.
In her comment to party members, Redford said that Albertans gave the government a “clear mandate to keep investing in services that support our families and our communities” in the April election. “You told us to continue building the new roads, schools and health facilities we need. And we are listening,” she said in the statement.
“Despite falling oil revenues, I give you my commitment that as we deliver our long-term economic plan for Alberta, we will be thoughtful in our approach and we will deliver on these priorities. In this year’s budget, we’ll hold the line on our spending and we’ll live within our means.”
This will be the first time that Redford has communicated to Albertans through a televised speech since becoming premier in October 2011. The premier’s spokesman, Stefan Baranski, said that the address will cost $55,000, which covers both production and airtime expenses.
“It’s legitimate for the premier of the province to speak directly to Albertans when the times call for it and these are one of those times,” Baranski said.
As premier, Klein regularly addressed Albertans through annual televised speeches.
Premier Ed Stelmach did not continue the tradition of making an annual speech in the new year when he took office in 2007. But he did use television in October 2007 in an address in advance of rolling out a new royalty regime for the energy sector.
Stelmach also used television two years later in an 18-minute speech focused on the province’s economic challenges. He used the address to ask public sector workers to agree to a two-year wage freeze.
Redford’s plan for a televised address surprised opposition parties. But Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith said she was looking forward to hearing what Redford says.
Smith said her party has been asking about declining oil prices, and their impact on the budget, since last spring’s legislature session.
“Ever since that moment, we’ve been receiving mixed messages,” Smith said. “We haven’t been able to get a straight answer out of her or her finance minister for months on what the plan is to deal with the budget crisis and, beyond that, what the plan is to get Alberta’s books back in order. Hopefully, we’ll get a little more clarity tomorrow evening.”
Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said he found it troubling that Redford was going on TV instead of communicating her government’s plans through a throne speech.
The government announced last week that the spring session, beginning March 5, will be a continuation of the fall sitting, which means there will be no throne speech outlining the government’s agenda and priorities.
“I find it disappointing that she’s actually curtailed democracy and hiding behind a camera somewhere in a room,” Sherman said.
NDP Leader Brian Mason said he believes the premier is trying to soften the pain of the budget to be delivered March 7. “She promised Albertans in the election there would be no service cuts and she promised there would be no tax increases,” Mason said.
“She’s very likely to break both of those promises in this budget. I think the cuts we’re going to see are very serious.”
Redford’s speech will air at 6:52 p.m. on CTV.
Redford’s address will be shown again later Thursday on CTV2 at 7:52 p.m. and 11:52 p.m. It will also air on that same channel at 11:52 a.m. Friday.