With the recent release of the new provincial budget, outlining billions of dollars in public spending on everything from health care to education and myriad of other things, the 2023 election campaign is now truly underway.
Whether the UCP will be able to ride the massive spending wave outlined in the budget to a second straight election victory over its principle NDP rival remains to be seen.
What is known is that the battle lines are now firmly drawn and voters in this region and across the province will soon decide if the UCP moves forward with its spending plans or whether the party’s mandate will end after a single four-year term.
For his part, Minister of Finance Travis Toews says the new budget sets out a workable plan for the province going forward.
“Fiscal responsibility matters,” said Toews. “It’s been key to achieving our strong fiscal standing and will be essential for sustainable program delivery in the future.
“In Budget 2023, we continue our commitment to paying down debt all while continuing to position our economy for growth and invest in the top priorities of Albertans.”
NDP leader and former premier Rachel Notley says it doesn’t matter how much the Smith government spends now or promises to spend down the road because the UCP has lost the public’s confidence.
“Frankly, the best news in Danielle Smith’s first budget is that it could be her last one because very soon Albertans will have a choice to turn the page,” said Notley.
Other parties and their candidates will, of course, also be setting out their respective plans and proposals during the campaign.
Hopefully this election will be decided on the merits and positions of the candidates – and not on the party that can make the biggest promises to spend the most taxpayers’ money.
If, in the end, election 2023 turns out to be a race based on trust and integrity, then Alberta will be the true winner, regardless of the outcome.
Dan Singleton is an editor with the Albertan.