Friends, Alberta is a province of indigenous peoples whose roots in this land go back thousands of years, and who will be stewards of this land for thousands of years to come.
Together, we are learning to respect that.
We are also a province built by wave after wave of pioneers and settlers, farmers and oil workers, researchers and students, job seekers and job creators.
We are people from all around the world who share a dream of a better life, and who have found it here in Alberta.
We are optimistic, hopeful, entrepreneurial, remarkably diverse and community-minded people.
We are people who dream no little dreams – and live them.
We are people who get things done.
In this province, what we wish for ourselves, we desire for all.
Like freedom from poverty.
Freedom from violence.
And freedom from discrimination because of who you love.
We believe in looking after our children, and making sure they are safe, healthy and have access to excellent education.
We believe in looking after our seniors, and making sure they are safe, healthy and have a dignified place to live.
We believe in respecting women, including our sisters who have disappeared or have been murdered, and whose families are looking for answers and for justice.
Albertans are working together to build a prosperous, entrepreneurial, diversified economy full of opportunity for us all.
We are working together to build a lifelong learning system that brings out the potential in us all.
And we are working together to build a health system that is there when it is needed – for us all.
We haven’t always got it right.
As I speak, we face another oil price challenge that is having a more profound effect on our families and on our public finances than it might have had, because we have not always made the right choices in this Legislature.
But as has just been proven, this Legislature can change.
There are seventy new MLAs in this House as a result of the recent election.
The people of Alberta decided it was time for a change, and they didn’t get there through half measures.
And so, we can begin again.
We can work together.
We can disagree without being disagreeable.
We can talk about what unites us as well as what divides us.
We can listen to each other and build on each other’s best ideas.
Just as Albertans have been doing with their neighbours since the founding of this province.
It is in this spirit that this government begins its new mandate, and takes up the tasks given to it by the people of Alberta.
The government begins its work mindful that it is building on the achievements of governments who have come before.
Alberta’s first government was led by the Liberal Party.
As is remembered in a small but important memorial just outside of this building, that was when democracy and responsible government were brought to Alberta.
Today, our political and party system cries out for renewal.
And so, we will take a first important step towards renewing our democracy as the first piece of business our new government puts before you.
Alberta’s next government was led by the United Farmers of Alberta.
The UFA was an alliance of farmers and workers determined to put the interests of Alberta families at the heart of the work of this House.
Alberta’s new government will reintroduce a fair and progressive tax system, and restore stable support for health and education in order to do exactly that. We will put the interests of Alberta families at the heart of the work of this Legislature.
Elected in the depths of the depression, our province’s next government was led by Social Credit.
The Socreds were men and women who believed that Alberta could overcome adversity and return to prosperity by working together in the common interest.
The Social Credit government was a strong supporter of job creators and entrepreneurs.
It also equipped our province with important tools to build prosperity, such as Alberta Treasury Branches, which still contribute to prosperity in Alberta communities large and small today.
Alberta’s new government will also be a good partner with job creators – with entrepreneurs, with small business, with credit unions and co-ops, and with the great enterprises we have built together.
Finally, the Progressive Conservative government elected in 1971 fought a ferocious battle with Ottawa to ensure, beyond debate, that our energy resources were owned and controlled by the people of Alberta.
The PCs then set out a plan for a successful and sustainable energy industry, managed in both our people’s short and long-term interests. Their plan recognized that our resources are a trust.
Those are principles to which Alberta’s new government will now return.
And so, to the work of this session:
As its first act, our new government will introduce Bill 1, An Act to Renew Democracy in Alberta.
At long last, this act, if passed, will ban corporate and union donations to political parties in this province.
There is much more that needs to be done to renew our democracy.
Alberta’s new government will work closely with all members in this House, and will take careful account of your views and those of all Albertans, before taking the necessary additional steps.
As its second act, our new government will introduce Bill 2, An Act to Restore Fairness to Public Revenue.
This bill will ask those who have benefited the most from the boom times in Alberta to now contribute a little more, so that our schools and health care can be spared from chaos and reckless cutbacks.
Corporate taxes on the largest and most profitable corporations in Alberta will be increased from 10 per cent to 12 per cent.
Small business taxes will remain at the current rate – 3 per cent.
And progressive income taxes will be reintroduced in Alberta for those earning more than $125,000 a year.
When these changes are implemented, each and every citizen of Alberta will still be contributing by far the lowest provincial taxes in Canada.
As its third act, Alberta’s new government will propose Bill 3 to restore stability to Alberta’s education, health care and human services.
This is an interim supply bill, which will maintain stability in essential public services while Alberta’s new government reviews our province’s economic situation, its finances and its budget priorities.
We will invest in stable and predictable funding for our schools and post-secondary institutions, because our children are worth it; because our communities are worth it; and because investing in skills and education is the single best investment our province can make to ensure our future prosperity.
We will invest in stable and predictable funding for our health system because universal, accessible, high-quality health care must be there when Alberta families need it – and because the time has come to meet our society’s growing need for community services like long-term care and home care.
And we will invest in stable and predictable funding for human services, because the people who have suffered the most in the recent economic downturn should not be the first in line to be cut.
With this agreed, our new government will then work on a new budget and a new legislative program, and will present these to you in the fall.
Alberta’s new government knows well that these are only a few first steps.
There is a great deal that needs to be done.
This province needs to work with steady determination to create the conditions for a sustainable, diversified and prosperous economy – an economy that will provide Albertans with good jobs.
Alberta needs a stable, long-term plan for health care and education.
This province needs to demonstrate real leadership on the environment and on climate change.
Concurrently, we must forge a much stronger partnership with our fellow provinces and with the federal government, in order to build a Canadian Energy Strategy that ensures that a sustainable, responsible Canadian energy industry can reach markets all around the world.
We need to review how the people of Alberta – including our grandchildren and great-grandchildren, many years from now – will be rewarded for the development of their own energy resources.
We need to return to a respectful relationship with this land’s indigenous peoples.
We need to make sure all Albertans are paid fairly at work – including those on the minimum wage.
We need to ensure this province’s rural and resource communities have the tools they need to keep contributing to the prosperity of Alberta.
There are parks to tend; public transit and roads to build; hospitals to build and renovate; schools to plan and open; people living on our streets to help.
It won’t all happen at once.
But we will start.
We will start today, with these first steps.
And we will do more in the fall, when my new government presents its first budget and its first full legislative program.
Thank you, friends.
God bless Alberta. God bless Canada. And God save the Queen.