Starting this week, Albertans are supposed to be seeing more of their government's top officials live and in person. While coffee with a cabinet minister may not be your cup of tea, it's generally good news for the electorate when the people with control of the purse strings want to come and talk to us.
With this in mind, we should welcome any and all of Premier Ed Stelmach's cabinet ministers when they hit the road to get out from under the dome in Edmonton this spring.
Yes, there will be a little mid-term campaigning, we suppose, but you have to take the bad with the good.
The good, in this case, is ministers who are being dispatched to listen rather than just talk.
“It's vitally important to get outside the legislature walls, meet with people face-to-face in their communities, hear from them, and learn more about their issues,” Stelmach said in announcing the ministerial pilgrimages to the lands beyond the capital.
No disagreements with that statement.
Interestingly, northeastern Alberta doesn't seem to be a formally designated territory for the visits by cabinet ministers. Fortunately for local residents, we'll still see some of the brass.
Later this week area teachers will have a chance to meet the province's education minister, Dave Hancock, at a dinner arranged by Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Genia Leskiw. That's certainly a welcome opportunity for the area and its educators, who Leskiw, a former teacher, wants to honour during Education Week.
The following week, the Lakeland is scheduled to welcome Health Minister Gene Zwosdesky, who is scheduled to visit hospitals in both ends of this riding. Zwosdesky is likely to hear a lot of suggestions and feedback as he tours facilities and gets a first-hand look at what's here and what's missing — the latter category including doctors and long-term care beds.
The following week, Deputy Premier Doug Horner is scheduled to address the annual meeting of the Lakeland Industry and Community Association.
All three visits will constitute welcome lobbying opportunities — ones we hope local officials and invited guests make the most of. There are, after all, lots of things that need attention in rural Alberta that you find under the dome.