It is good to be here in Edmonton, Alberta, just as the new social democratic government for the province takes office after 44 years of Conservative rule. On Sunday Rachel Notley of the New Democratic Party (NDP) was sworn in as the province’s premier.
At the opening ceremony of the International Association for the Study of the Commons’ biennial conference at Fort Edmonton Park on Monday evening we were welcomed by, among others, Rod Loyola, NDP Member of the Legislative Assembly for Edmonton Ellerslie electoral district. (Interestingly, until recently, these were called ridings, like old Yorkshire.)
Rod quoted Rachel Notley’s words on being sworn in: ‘It is springtime in Alberta and a fresh wind is blowing’. Rachel has just appointed her cabinet. With 12 members it is smaller than any constructed by the Progressive Conservative governments with 50 per cent women.
Rod said that the NDP was voted in because Albertans want them to pay better care of the land. When oil prices are at a record high, there is inequality, long wait times in emergency rooms and overcrowded classrooms. Now oil prices have fallen and Albertans have voted for change.
He said that the issues to be discussed at our commons conference were the issues faced by the new government: how to build a more sustainable and fair society. It was good to hear him say this. I am sure both practitioners and academics at our conference would agree that this is what we want to achieve too.
We must hope that the new government will live up to expectations and that the fresh wind continues to blow.