Finance minister considers highs, lows of 2013
Wednesday, Jan 01, 2014 06:00 am
Perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that budget consultations and economic forums were some of the highlights for Alberta’s finance minister in 2013.
“I would say the highlights for me for 2013 have been the budget consultations and the economic forums that we did, not because we did them with, you know, professors and academics, but because we did them in communities around Alberta and we were able to sit down with people from every walk of life,” said Finance Minister and President of the Treasury Board Doug Horner, who is also MLA for Spruce Grove-St. Albert.
The process of travelling around Alberta and speaking to provincial residents about what the budget priorities and vision should be reminded Horner of his campaign for the Progressive Conservative leadership, he said.
While personal highlights included time with family and his grandkids, for Horner’s professional life another high point for the year includes watching the caucus and cabinet “gel into a very proficient and pragmatic team.
“I would say that Premier (Alison) Redford has brought together a very strong team as evidenced by the reaction to the flood and having to do a fairly tough budget this spring,” Horner said. “We’ve been able to gel and that’s something I think has been quite an interesting experience for me having been in a number of different caucuses.”
Horner retained his post in a recent cabinet shuffle and is very proud of the budget he presented this year.
“Not very many people have the opportunity in their lives to present a budget for the province of Alberta. Hopefully I’ll get to do two,” Horner said.
The year wasn’t all fun and budgets, however. Horner said this year’s devastating floods and their impacts will be something he’ll never forget.
“That would be the low side of things,” he said.
Looking ahead to 2014, Horner notes the growing population and rosier predictions for the province’s economy.
“I think we are turning a corner in terms of where we’re headed. We can start to think a little bit more about the future. We’ve legislated savings, we’ve legislated savings, we’ve legislated a borrowing cap,” Horner said.
He recently met with a group of chief economists from major financial institutions.
“What surprised me was how positive they were about Alberta’s economy. So I think that bodes well for us … it bodes well but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to be very prudent in how you approach things,” Horner said, adding the instructions he gets from his PC colleagues is to “stay the course.”
For his constituency, one of the faster growing areas of the province, growth is a good news story but also brings with it challenges that will need to be addressed in the near future in terms of infrastructure projects like schools and roads, Horner said. “What do we do about modernization, what do we do about the continued growth of our communities,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s a better place in the world right now that you’d rather be, in terms of having opportunity for yourself, your family, your kids, than Alberta, and I think the world’s starting to recognize that.”