Steve Murgatroyd’s Alberta Manifesto
(Imagine me as a candidate for the Premiership of Alberta. Here is a draft manifesto. Any comments welcome)
Alberta is already a great place to live, work and visit. We want to make it better yet, we want to make Alberta a model society for the twenty first century.
The Key Ingredients
A New democracy in Alberta – smaller government, more engaged government, more focused government and a fiscally sound government
Outstanding lifelong education – the highest quality education with the most support for learners anywhere in Canada
Sustainable health care – the most comprehensive provision of health services in Canada
A Strong, Growing, Innovative and Diverse Economy – helping companies and communities develop
Sustainable and Safe Communities – taking care of our environment and natural resources
Intelligent Infrastructure – supporting all of our needs for transport, communication and connectivity
Efficient and Effective Government – managing your resources intelligently, effectively and with concern for value
Alberta needs to be a society which cares for its people, its environment and its future.
Our institutions were built in the nineteenth century and developed in the twentieth century. They were built before powerful and effective media communications, technology and transportation. They were built before a global economy. We need to change them. We need to use twenty first century democracy.
A Murgatroyd administration will:
- Restore the role of the legislature as a place where real debate, decision and scrutiny takes place and is a model for new kinds of democratic processes.
- We will harness the methods of e-democracy and community engagement to involve citizens in policy development.
- We will change the role of Standing Policy Committees to be cross-party committees of the House (Select Committees) supported by expert panels charged with scrutinising policy options and holding Ministers accountable.
- As conservatives, we don’t believe in big Government. We will reduce the number of Ministries from the current 23 to 15 and hold the expenditure on public servants constant for three years. We will have a smaller cabinet, faster decision making and balance effectiveness with efficiency.
- We will reshape the relationship between the Province and Municipalities, recognizing the growing importance of cities.
- We will privatize several functions of government, reduce bureaucracy and remove regulations that get in the way of Alberta’s strategy for its future.
Key to the future of Alberta is knowledge. Key to the effective use and development of knowledge is learning. All aspects of our society benefit from a well educated workforce. Such a workforce supports economic development, health and wellness, sustainability and families.
A Murgatroyd administration will:
- Provide support for day care through tax credits, including home based care, based on best practice benchmarks for every child in Alberta
- Provide quality primary education, with class sizes of 1:18 and appropriate support for special needs and home schooling
- Encourage the further development of charter schools
- Strengthen middle and high school education by a strong focus on a changed experience for students, the appropriate use of technology, the development of project based curriculum and a rethink of teacher education and professional development for teachers
- Expanding post-secondary education through the expansion of e-learning for both College level and University level education, increasing the number of places available in community colleges and our polytechnic institutes and expanding degree availability, especially in the North
- Create an integrated learning system for aboriginal peoples, building on the strengths of the existing investments and adding to these
- Significant expansion and modernization of apprenticeship education, leveraging more strongly the resources of industry and the use of advanced learning technologies
- Providing tax credits for learning investments made by Albertans in their education
- Increasing the range and value of scholarships available to Albertans seeking to pursue their education in Alberta
- Encouraging the expansion of private post secondary education in Alberta
These steps will increase access to relevant, quality education while at the same time creating sustainable educational systems.
A Healthy Community
Conservatives believe in choice, effective and efficient services and in putting people first. In health care, the debate is not about “public” or “private”, but about access, quality of care and effectiveness of our services, both to promote wellness and healthy lifestyles as well as for the care of those experiencing illness.
A Murgatroyd administration will promote wellness by:
- Increasing expenditure on quality school meals at lunchtime for primary school children – helping develop good dietary habits and healthy eating while at the same time aiding learning
- Increase the daily level of physical activity for all attending schools in Alberta to 45 minutes a day of activity
- Increase public support for Alberta sports organizations
- Ban smoking in all public places in Alberta so as to further reduce the level of smoking related disease
- Ban the use of cell phones while driving so as to reduce the number of vehicle accidents
To respond to health care needs, a Murgatroyd administration will:
- Permit tax free health accounts (similar to RRSP’s) for Alberta residents which they may use to either buy health insurance or health services from any jurisdiction outside of Alberta
- Freeze health care spending at 40% of the Provincial budget and require the Health Regions to achieve performance targets for wait times and access to services – focusing on the effective management of scarce resources
- Abolish the health premium for all Albertans and increase Provincial taxation by 1% to recover this loss of income
- Create public:private partnerships for the delivery of hip replacements, cataract surgery and other services designated from time to time as appropriate for lean “agile” care services
- Use public:private partnership for the capital expansion programs of health regions
- Enhance the role of nurse practitioners and midwives in terms of a range of health care services
A Strong, Growing, Innovative Economy
For many years to come, Alberta will have a strong economy based on agriculture, oil, gas, fibre and related services. We will ensure that we invest in innovative research and development activities in partnership with industry that continuously improves the return to Alberta from these sectors while at the same time making these industries more sustainable, lowering the impact of their development on the environment.
But there is a need to encourage and stimulate other sectors of the economy.
A Murgatroyd administration will:
- Support innovation at Alberta Treasury Branches for new financial instruments to support the transfer of ownership of small and medium enterprises – essential, as one generation of owners retires and another succeeds
- Increase support for private sector investment in R&D and find new incentives for small and medium enterprises to make such investments
- Encourage public:private partnerships for R&D in Alberta, especially in Universities
- Require all Government of Alberta departments to award 10% of all contracts to SME’s in Alberta using a fast track competitive bidding process
- Refocus the work of the Alberta Science and Research Authority as a policy advisory group for Government and Industry at arms length from Government
- Partner closely with the Federal government so as to better leverage their investments in Alberta innovation, science and research
- Create effective sector councils for established and emerging industries so as to promote effective industry clusters, knowledge sharing and joint ventures and strong representation of their learning and economic development needs
- Invest in the development of the Alberta:China, Alberta:India and Alberta:Americas Councils to promote trade amongst the fastest growing economies in the world and Alberta
- Reduce the number of “made in Alberta” regulations affecting business operations
- Provide free to all Alberta registered businesses e-learning services for basic skills
- Support an Alberta Futures Foundation which will be challenged to look at Alberta 25 years ahead and keep the future trends in the minds of all Albertans
- Increase our investment in Alberta Energy Research Institute and Energy INet, Alberta Ingenuity Fund, ICT Institute and the Alberta Research Council
- Significantly reduce the role of Alberta Economic Development and reinvest these resources in regional economic development activity – bringing support closer to business
Sustainable and Safe Communities
As more people move to cities and our cities expand, there is a need to ensure that cities have the resources they need to support their communities and that rural Alberta doesn’t get left behind.
A Murgatroyd administration will
- Create a task force on Reinventing Government with the aim of devolving functions and resources to municipalities, changing the role of the Provincial government to one of steering rather than controlling and strengthening the work of cities and rural municipalities – the task force to report within 100 days of the Murgatroyd administration taking office
- Work with aboriginal communities to resolve all remaining land, resource and governance issues in partnership with the Federal Government within one year of a Murgatroydadministration taking office
- Invest in the task of environmental clean-up (land and water) and work to ensure Alberta has the best record in North America for effective environmental management practices
- Partner with industry and research organizations world-wide to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower energy use and conserve natural resources while at the same time securing strong economic growth for Alberta
- Require all houses built to comply to the highest standards of energy and water efficiency
- Require all businesses operating in Alberta to include in their quarterly and Annual reports, reports on their efforts to meet environmental standards for water use, energy use, greenhouse gas emission reduction and other items requiring reporting from time to time
- Increase the number of police officers by 250 by 2010 able to work to prevent and solve crimes, to be deployed in the most effective way community by community
- Review all laws relating to drugs and gang activity and strengthen the powers of the police and others to act
In the twentieth century, the primary infrastructure Governments were expected to provide were roads, schools, hospitals and support for community facilities. While these remain important, Alberta has additional needs for the twenty first century.
A Murgatroyd administration will:
- Invest in a high-speed train between Edmonton and Calgary aimed at reducing the rate of growth of vehicle traffic on Highway 2 and providing an environmentally sound, low cost form of transport between Alberta’s two principal cities
- Place tolls on Highway 2 aimed at encouraging the use of rail, bus or air travel
- Encourage the adoption of access tolls to the major downtown areas of Edmonton and Calgary to encourage the use of public transport
- Make broadband access available to every community in Alberta through wireless networks – Supernet2
- Provide tax incentives for every household to purchase one new computer every three years
- Require the building code to ensure that all houses and buildings erected in Alberta from January 2006 have wireless broadband access as part of their design
- 80% of all Alberta Government services will be available online by 2010
Efficient and Effective Government
A new Premier leading a new Government needs to focus the work of that Government on some core values – engagement, service, efficiency and effectiveness will be the operational hallmarks of a Murgatroyd administration.
We have already outlined some changes to the structure of Government – fewer Departments, less regulation, more devolution, faster decision making. Now we need to ensure that the Government does what it says it will do.
A Murgatroyd administration will:
- While investing in Alberta, offer balanced budgets
- Provide value added audits and performance audits from the Auditor General
Provide strong scrutiny of Government performance through Select Committees and expert panels of the House
Policy is important and Albertans want a stronger level of transparency about policy development and a greater degree of trust in the work of Government. A Murgatroyd administration will:
- Ensure that Alberta is first amongst all Provinces in access to information
- Ensure that Alberta is first amongst Provinces in access to health and education and in per capita spending on education
- Ensure that “quality”, “service” and “respect” are hallmarks of the work of the Alberta Government
What is needed most in Alberta is a spirit of “can do”, “will do” and “are doing” – we will lead, we will innovate, we will continuously change. We will live the spirit of Alberta as a pioneer Province.