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Ceremonial Speech to Chamber starts session, sitting or whatever: Some Honourable Members, 'Arf! Arf!'

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Tout le monde Alberta news media were busily explaining yesterday afternoon that a new session of the Alberta Legislature had commenced at last, with some fairly routine sparring between the government and the opposition as it happened.

Easy mistake to make, under the circumstances, although this appears not technically to be true, seeing as it was the fourth sitting of the first session of the 28th Legislature, and it merely resumed yesterday.

But then, this is Alberta, and that's the way we do things here. So don't bother your pretty little Canadian heads about it because, if you haven't noticed, it's coming to your part of Canada too, sooner or later.

Rather than a Speech from the Throne, in which the Lieutenant Governor reads a speech prepared by the government to outline its policies in the coming session, we had a speech to the Throne, in which the Premier made her way down to the real centre of power, rapped politely at the door for admission and meekly outlined some of the policies that her government will pursue during the all-too-brief sitting to come.

The Throne in Alberta, naturally, is not Her Majesty sitting symbolically in some fusty London palace, or even a vice-regal personage wheeled out every year or so for the occasion trailing the scent of moth balls, but the dining room of the local Chamber of Commerce, as is fit.

The media did not say whether the meal of rubber chicken was served by temporary foreign workers paid less than minimum wage, or if the 550 or so members of the Chamber on hand to hear the premier describe her "ambitious agenda" gave their approval, but here on the eastern slopes of the Rockies some things are seldom spoken of and others hardly need to be. The juicy stuff -- like the premier’s expected cabinet shuffle -- went unmentioned.

Nevertheless, despite the absence of a regimental band, the symbolism of the occasion was powerful.

As Brian Mason, leader of the New Disaffected Party put it, "There's no Throne speech but she comes and gives the Throne speech at the Chamber of Commerce and the symbolism of that could not be more clear: she is accountable to the business community, but not to the people."

To which most Albertans wonder, presumably, "What’s your point, Brian?" That is, if they noticed anything at all.

And, um, that’s about it. The session is scheduled to wrap up on Dec. 5, keeping annoying Question Periods to an absolute minimum.

The only news of substance yesterday was that the Alberta Legislature is now the regular workplace of a dog for the first time since the election of…

Never mind who I had in mind. This time it's a real dog, and for the first time, too, in any legislative assembly in Canada, so they say.

However, alert readers will be surprised to note that the small white dog in question, named Quill, is not a member of the government backbenches but holds a job with considerably more responsibility, to wit, alerting Wildrose Health Critic Heather Forsyth if the fire alarms go off.

Some Honourable Members: Arf! Arf!

This post also appears on David Climenhaga's blog, Alberta Diary.

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