Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly newsletters:
Public Health Care Guarantee
On Tuesday, Premier Danielle Smith renewed her party’s public health guarantee at a campaign-style press conference. Smith promised that under her government, Albertans will continue to have access to public health care services and that she would not de-list any prescriptions or services currently covered under Alberta Health Services. Smith shot back at the opposition NDP’s claims that Smith was keen on introducing privatization of some services, including visits to a family physician.
The public health care guarantee represents another attempt for Smith to court moderate voters – a key to success in next month’s election – and dispel arguments that she is in favour of privatizing certain services.
On Friday, Premier King also unveiled his new twelve-member cabinet, promoting Bloyce Thompson to the role of Deputy Premier. Almost half of those appointed to cabinet are new, one third are women, and three veteran ministers were dropped including former housing minister Matthew MacKay, fisheries minister Jamie Fox, and Deputy Premier Darlene Compton. Compton is expected to run for the Speaker’s chair when the legislature resumes. New faces include Finance Minister Jill Burridge, Housing Minister Rob Lantz, Social Development Minister Barb Ramsay, Workforce Minister Jenn Redmond, and Economic Development Minister Gilles Arsenault. Several departments have also been realigned to ‘create efficiencies’ and put a renewed focus on government priorities, including a new Department of Workforce, Advance Learning and Population, a realigned Department of Housing, Land & Communities, and a realigned Department of Fisheries, Tourism, Sport and Culture. In addition, there was a Deputy Minister shuffle, to execute on the government’s ‘ambitious agenda.’
BC United Rebrand
Last week, the British Columbia Liberal Party officially changed its name to BC United. “What an incredible moment,” BC United Leader Kevin Falcon said during the launch event. “United, we are forging a new path not just for this party but for this province. United, we are going to tackle the tough challenges and deliver results for British Columbians. And united, we are going to seize on the incredible future that is British Columbia.”
The party has historically branded itself as a coalition of federal Liberals and Conservatives, but Falcon said the party is moving away from those labels in an effort to attract voters who are not partisan but switch back and forth based on issues that resonate. “The NDP are saying we’re too conservative, and the conservatives are saying we’re too liberal, so that probably means we’re in the right spot,” Falcon said. “I want to make sure that we have common sense policies that aren’t viewed through a liberal or conservative lens.”
With the BC NDP continuing to ride high in the polls, and with John Rustad crossing the floor to join the BC Conservative Party, Falcon and the BC United Party have a lot of work to do ahead of the 2024 provincial election to gain name recognition, rebuild the party, and build the center, big tent coalition they will need to win back government.
The Government of Ontario is set to launch its new Ultra-Low Overnight price plan. As of May 1, 2023, hydro electricity customers in seven municipalities can opt-in to the new low-price plan, in addition to existing Time-of-Use and Tiered plans.
The Ontario Liberal Party will name its new leader to replace Steven Del Duca on December 2, 2023. A deadline of September 5, 2023 has been set for candidate registration, with party members casting votes in late-November. The Ontario Liberal Party is expected to host at least five debates around the province. Candidates who have stated their interest in leadership bids include MP Nathaniel Erskine-Smith, MP Yasir Naqvi, and MP Ted Hsu.
‘Coalition government in everything but name’: experts say NDP-Liberal agreement in good shape one year in, don’t expect election any time soon
The NDP-Liberal agreement seems to be on good footing after developing the federal budget for 2022. The parties agreed to prioritize Canada’s health-care system, affordability, the climate crisis, workers’ legislation, Indigenous reconciliation, the tax system, and exploring ways to expand the ability for people to vote. The recent budget included a doubling of the GST rebate, $13-billion for dental care, $4-billion for Indigenous housing, and $20-billion in tax credits for the green energy economy. NDP MP and Finance Critic Daniel Blaikie explained his party’s role was to “clearly articulate their expectations and understanding of what the agreement items were,” with meetings with people in the Finance Department and Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos. Former Liberal staffer Elliot Hughes said that the success of the agreement can be judged in terms of the measures put forward and whether the two sides are living up to it.
According to a new Mainstreet Research poll, Josh Matlow, Ana Bailão and Olivia Chow have emerged as top contenders in the mayoral byelection race. The poll of 746 Torontonians released on Friday shows Matlow with 18.1 percent support of decided and leaning voters, followed by Bailão with 16.8 percent, and Chow with 16.2 percent. The poll found former Toronto police chief Mark Saunders in fourth place with 12.6 percent support. As of Friday, 46 candidates had registered, with more expected before nominations close on May 12.