Airdrie-Cochrane NDP candidate Shaun Fluker believes the Danielle Smith government is out of step with Albertans.
Sure, he says they have introduced measures to address affordability, but have completely ignored pressing health care and K to 12 education issues that are among the top three priorities of Albertans.
He says instead it has introduced bills for what he believes is an unconstitutional sovereignty act, police act amendments, measures to address squatter rights issues, and the justice statutes adjustment bill to determine the limit on when you can go to provincial court.
He believes the party is fixated on topics that don’t correlate with the rest of the province.
"None of these matters are priorities for constituents of the people I talk to in Cochrane, I mean none of them," says Fluker.
He says the only bill addressing the health care crisis was introduced as Bill 201, a private member's bill, by NDP leader Rachel Notley.
The Public Health Care Delivery Standards Act calls for new standards on primary care, emergency medical services, and essential surgeries wait times. It would demand accountability and transparency in data to help address the issue.
Fluker says right now the public and press have only been able to obtain meaningful data on health care by filing freedom of information requests.
"The idea behind the bill is for the government to start working towards solutions to the health care crisis in the province. Certainly, for anyone who has to engage in the health care system, it is their number one concern and it would be a step in a direction the UCP government isn’t even addressing."
He says it speaks to issues of importance to the constituency, including a dysfunctional EMS and doctor shortage identified in Cochrane.
"There is a general sense of problems and failures in the health system, but it’s difficult to get access to data. It’s difficult to fully understand, even in a community like Cochrane, about how many family physicians are there, how many of them are accepting new patients, and what’s that in relation to the number of the folks in the community that don’t have access to a family physician. It’s hard to pin down the problem quantitively which is, I think, part of addressing the problem."
He says healthcare availability is a major consideration when people determine where they want to live and could outweigh the other attributes of a community like Cochrane.
"If getting a family doctor here is not a possibility or if it means travelling in the middle of winter to another community, whether that’s Calgary or Canmore or whatever, quite likely, they’re just going to choose to live somewhere else because that’s a major consideration."
Fluker says the debate on the bill has been strategically delayed until Dec. 22 at the end of the fall sitting by the UCP government
"I would have thought the proposed bill would be a welcomed item of business in the Legislature Assembly, but the Alberta government would rather talk about Alberta as a sovereign jurisdiction and stoke the fires of separatism."
Fluker, an associate professor of law at the University of Calgary. believes when the sovereignty act receives royal ascent it will prove to be unconstitutional.
He says the government only addressed one of its three issues when it reversed a provision to provide cabinet unchecked power.
He says the bill intends to give the Alberta government the authority to assess the constitutionality of legislation and initiatives of the federal government and that’s simply not a power a province has under the constitution. Secondly, it offends the separation of power by giving the Alberta government the authority to rule on the authority of federal legislation, something that solely belongs to the Canadian courts.
Smith has stated they would respect the decision of the federal courts, but he even finds that troublesome.
"It really isn’t something that a leader of a provincial government of Canada should have to say. You know, you’re in a bad state of affairs when the premier of a province needs to clarify that her government is going to respect the decisions of the Canadian courts. Just that alone is highly problematic. We shouldn't even be in a situation where a premier needs to issue clarifications like that."
He says Premier Smith was clearly wrong when she rose in the Legislative Assembly and stated Ottawa is not a national government and that Canada is a collection of sovereign independent governments.
"Canada is a sovereign state and it has a series of provincial and territorial governments. It isn't a collection of individual sovereign jurisdictions. The whole point of federalism is for all levels of government to work together for the collective good of the nation, so her statement that Ottawa is not a national government is just patently false."
He says the bill is creating uncertainty with investors with the province's legal framework, thus the term "job killing bill" being bantered about by the NDP.
"Capital markets are based on the idea of certainties and major deliverables of a society governed by a rule of law. So, it creates uncertainty over the ground rules."