Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke recently spoke about his new role in opposition, his priorities for the coming term and his future relationship with the new NDP government in Alberta.
He said that locally, his priorities will stay the same as they have been with his work on improving health care, seniors housing and work with transportation departments to improve roadways. Starke said he hopes to be able to complete the projects he started in these areas despite the PCs no longer being the governing party.
“I certainly expect to do so and if there’s any indication that the new government is moving away from those projects, which would be completely contrary to what they promised Albertans in the election campaign, I will be very vociferous in my opposition to what they are doing,” he said.
Starke said that provincially his party is getting ready for the upcoming session and preparing for their role as an opposition caucus. He has been elected as third party opposition caucus house leader, a position that will see him co-ordinating with other house leaders as well as the speaker-elect to organize questions during question period. “Looking forward to that, that will be a new responsibility for me and I think one of the things we’ve heard many times since (May 5) is that people want to make sure that we do our job as opposition members and very carefully hold the government that’s been elected to account,” Starke said.
“Our role as an opposition is to do our job in being careful overseers of their policies and assisting them and opposing where that’s necessary.”
When it comes to advocating for Vermilion-Lloydminster, he said he will have to take a different approach with cabinet ministers now being from a different party. Starke said it will remain to be seen if the NDPs are ready to represent all Albertans or if they will only govern for constituencies that elected members to their caucus.
“This is something that when I was in government, when I was a cabinet minister, I would listen to and work with members of all parties when they raised issues with me, to make sure all Albertans receive the assistance from government that was being requested,” he said. “Time will tell whether the new government fulfills its role in governing on behalf of all Albertans.”
All in all, Starke said he is looking forward to carrying out the PC’s role as an opposition party, citing its important part in the British parliamentary system. He said he spent seven years in youth parliament, where four of those years he was a member of the opposition, giving him some familiarity in that capacity.
“Certainly, the responsibilities and the roles that we play as opposition members are ones that we are going to tackle with a great deal of diligence and hard work, and like I say, I’m looking forward to the challenge.”