It is so wonderful to see many of you enjoying our local parks and open fields, be it to play some baseball, or even to have the children run around outside together. First and foremost, thank you to all of you for everything you have done to keep our province safe. It is truly inspiring to see communities come together whether to protect each other, ourselves and our loved ones from spreading COVID-19, or marching in solidarity in peaceful protests with Black Lives Matter, celebrating various cultural events, and celebrating Pride Month. It has been the greatest honour of my life to represent you, and I have missed seeing you in person through isolation. I look forward to reconnecting in our new normal come July, though we will be sitting in the legislature for most of the summer.
Another thing that is great to see is the reopening of many of our local businesses. As readers know, we have a vibrant small business community in Chestermere-Strathmore. Many of our local businesses have been hit hard in the past 3 months and we want to help. The government is committing $200 million dollars in grants to help small businesses and non-profits with relaunch. Details are being finalized and for further information on a safe relaunch, I encourage you to please check out the Alberta BizConnect website at alberta.ca/biz-connect. So, what can you do to help? When your local salon opens up, go ahead and book that haircut or a nail appointment! Reserve that table for two (or more!) and make sure to enjoy a meal at your favourite restaurant. Get back on that fitness program, buy a book, check out your local shoe store, and hit the local consignment boutique too! Do you get the idea? They’re going to be thrilled to see you coming through the door, and will be doing everything they can to keep you safe under the reopening guidelines. Small business is one of the main drivers of our economy and a huge part of what makes our communities great places to live and raise a family.
On the legislative front, it was shocking for me to see the NDP’s reaction to Bill 26 — the Constitutional Referendum Amendment Act — and Bill 27 — the Alberta Senate Election Amendment Act — in the legislature this past week. These bills provide for direct democracy on issues that affect Albertans. We want to empower citizens of this province with the ability to participate more directly in the democratic system through referendums. This can only strengthen our democracy. The Fair Deal panel results were clear: Albertans want a greater say on what happens in their own backyard. When there is a fundamental issue that affects you, we want you to have the opportunity to vote on it. Bill 26 only allows for referendums on constitutional questions. These amendments would enhance democracy by allowing referendums on a wider range of matters of public interest and concern to Albertans, including giving Albertans a more direct say on certain recommendations of the Fair Deal panel. Further to this, Bill 27 would make only minor housekeeping changes to the Alberta Senate Election Act and provide the Minister of Municipal Affairs with the same directive-making powers the Minister has in municipal elections, particularly when a Senate election is held in conjunction with a municipal level election. The NDP completely misrepresented these pieces of legislation by suggesting that this will bring big money to politics; when you look at union advertising using member’s dues, it’s no wonder that they may be concerned! Remember that the Alberta Federation of Labour — who spent over $1.8 million on advertising in the last 3 years — is designated in the NDP’s constitution to be a part of their provincial council. For referendums in other jurisdictions, such as British Columbia and the United Kingdom, it is common practice for the government to provide support to a proponent and opponent group with taxpayer dollars. In Alberta, this will not be the case and third parties will have to raise their own money. We believe that Albertans should be the ones who decide which side they financially support.
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Peter Tindall for giving this constituency, this province and this MLA five years of his life as my assistant. You have seen him behind the camera, helping build playgrounds, putting out pylons at 4 in the morning with me for the Loop around the Lake, picking up garbage at the beer gardens for Langdon days, knocking on your doors with me in -40, writing thoughtful emails as personal responses to many of you, and mostly for being one of my best friends. A toast to you my friend and everything we have been through. I lucked out meeting you and will be forever grateful for your contributions to our constituents and your patience with me. Much love from Chestermere-Strathmore. As always, we love to hear from you.