Dr. Swann in Question Period on Government Policy Development – 24 November 2016

Taken from the Alberta Hansard for Thursday, November 24, 2016

Government Policy Development

Dr. Swann: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. In 2016 this government brought in a host of new policies that are changing the very fabric of Alberta society, from energy and environmental transformation to large minimum wage hikes to dramatic investment decisions, in the midst of a profound recession. What is missing, of course, is a comprehensive analysis, details. Albertans and all of us are being asked to take a lot on faith. To the Premier: can you tell us why the government continues to announce massive policy change without tabling appropriate analysis, which the Legislature needs to properly inform debate?

The Speaker: The Deputy Premier.

Ms Hoffman: Thank you, Mr. Speaker and to the member for the question. We continue to address a number of problems that we’ve inherited, and I think the responsible thing for our government to do is: when you have a system that you’ve inherited, show leadership, step up, do what’s best, make determinations, work with the public service to gather the evidence, and move forward in a thoughtful way. With regard to specific items of interest, I’d be happy to respond to any of those. I think we’ve tried to do that as best we can as a government in an open way as we move forward while protecting the interests of all Albertans, Mr. Speaker. So we’re very proud of the work that we’re doing and the fact that our government is addressing a number of very serious issues.

Dr. Swann: My follow-up question is for the Energy minister. Given that the government has referred repeatedly in the media to the expected report of the oil sands advisory group and given that this group has been tasked with, quote, how government might implement the legislated 100-megatonne-per-year limit on oil sands emissions, end quote, and given that there’s no indication that the oil sands group will report while we debate the bill, what deliverables should this Legislature expect from the oil sands group?

The Speaker: The hon. Minister of Environment and Parks and climate change.

Ms Phillips: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the hon. member for the question. It’s a good question. The oil sands advisory group was tasked with providing the government with advice on how to give regulatory effect to the oil sands emissions limit. Of course, the oil sands advisory group is made up of folks who asked for the oil sands emissions limit. They asked for it because it provides investment certainty going forward as we act on climate change and provide an investment climate that signals to the world that, yes, we are a carbon-constrained jurisdiction but that, yes, we are also a responsible oil and gas producer.

Dr. Swann: It’s a bit confusing that they wouldn’t report to the Legislature while we’re debating the bill. That’s all I’m saying. To the Finance minister: given that on Tuesday this week both the Education minister and the Energy minister promised carbon tax funds, one to schools and one to backstop the electricity industry, and given that the agriculture minister has promised carbon funds to farmers and given that 60 per cent of Albertans have been promised a refund cheque, can the Finance minister show us the calculations for how this tax will cover the growing list of promises ministers are making?

Mr. Ceci: Thank you for the question. We have modelled the amount of money that’ll be coming forward with the carbon levy over five years. We know what the amount of money is, and we’ve portioned, basically, a third to rebates, a third to efficiencies, and a third to innovations over those five years. So we have to, going forward, keep within those monies, that we don’t have a bigger envelope than that, and I trust the ministers to come forward with requests that fit within that envelope.