All top moments in Alberta politics in 2019 centre around the United Conservative Party’s decisive victory on April 16, 2019. We have already mentioned in previous editions of the Roundup how decisively and swiftly the UCP have been in bringing change. Premier Kenney wasn’t kidding when he spoke of the summer of repeal and continued on that path until the end of the year.
1. Blue Ribbon Panel lays the groundwork for belt-tightening budget
Premier Kenney tasked Janice MacKinnon with developing a path to balance, and she delivered. While the fall 2019 budget was likely just a taste of what’s to come to get Alberta’s finances in order, it showed decisive leadership from Premier Kenney and Finance Minister Travis Toews to get back to balance in four years.
2. Pipeline expansion
There were success stories for Premier Kenney and Energy Minister Sonya Savage when it came to pipelines in 2019, a sure relief given that pipelines were one of the three key focuses of their 2019 campaign. With Line 3’s Canadian portion in operation and the first new pieces of the Trans Mountain Expansion placed in the ground in late 2019, Albertans can be cautiously optimistic that further market access could be on the horizon.
3. Taking the fight to Ottawa
While we can’t be certain that Premier Kenney was on Prime Minister Trudeau’s Christmas card list, there is no doubt that the concerns of Alberta were heard loud and clear on the national stage in 2019. Equalization and changes to Bill C-69 are now part of the national conversation.
4. Standing up for small business
There were positive signs for Alberta’s small business owners with the change to UCP government that will hopefully result in job creation come 2020. The corporate tax rate was reduced from 12 to 11% on July 1, and was lowered a further percentage point January 1. The minimum wage was also changed from the universal $15/hour implemented by the NDP to provide relief for small business owners with ever-shrinking margins, with new youth and hospitality minimum wages introduced.
5. Out with the old, in with the new; TIER legislation receiving federal approval
It’s no surprise that the “NDP’s job-killing carbon tax” going the way of the dodo bird was one of the first orders of business for Premier Kenney. Perhaps more impressive was his ability to get sign off from Ottawa on their made-in-Alberta solution for industrial emitters with the Technology Innovation and Emissions Reduction (TIER) system replacing the Carbon Competitiveness Incentive Regulation (CCIR) on January 1. The next order of business? Receiving a favourable ruling from the Alberta Court of Appeal on the government of Alberta’s appeal of the federal carbon tax that came into effect in the province on January 1.