Nixon appointed opposition house leader

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Rimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre United Conservative Party (UCP) MLA Jason Nixon has been appointed as leader of the official Opposition and Opposition house leader in the Alberta legislature.

The appointment was made by newly-elected UCP leader Jason Kenney on Monday.

In the position, Nixon will be responsible for guiding the business of the UCP caucus in the legislature until Kenney is able to win a seat.

Kenney, who won the UCP leadership on Oct. 28, has announced plans to run in a byelection in Calgary-Lougheed.

In a Gazette interview on Monday, Nixon said he is confident he can handle the new positions.

“The leader of the official Opposition must be an MLA, of course, so I will be serving that role until our leader can win a seat,” said Nixon. “I will also serve as house leader, a role that I will continue in once Mr. Kenney wins a seat.

“I will handle all of the legislative responsibility (of the leader of the Opposition). Asking questions of the premier is of course the most visible, high-profile part of that job.

“Certainly I will be helping set the legislative agenda and that type of stuff.”

Asked if Kenney will be instructing him on what to do and say, Nixon replied, “I will certainly be working very closely with Mr. Kenney in undertaking the legislative agenda. I’m doing Jason Kenney’s role inside the legislature because he doesn’t have a seat.”

Nixon said he will be receiving an increase in pay as Opposition leader, but could not say exactly what the new pay will be.

Nixon has never held either post before.

The UPC caucus is made up of sitting MLAs, including Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills MLA Nathan Cooper.

Other members of the party’s new caucus leadership team include MLAs Leela Aaheer as deputy leader, Ric McIver as chief whip, Prab Gill as deputy whip, and Angela Pitt as deputy house leader.

In announcing the leadership team, Kenney said, “Today is a new day in Alberta politics. We have a strong, United Conservative Party caucus ready to stand up for Albertans who feel the pain of the disastrous economic policies of the Alberta NDP and the Trudeau Liberals.

“While the NDP refuses to stand up and fight for our province against the Trudeau government, Albertans can rest assured our United Conservative Party caucus will fight for them each and every day.” Kenney also announced that the UCP caucus “will seek unanimous consent to introduce a motion calling on the NDP to immediately respond to Trudeau’s use of the National Energy Board (NEB) to kill pipeline projects, like TransCanada’s Energy East, through regulatory overburden.

“In September, TransCanada announced a 30-day suspension of their Energy East application, citing ërecent changes announced by the NEB’.”

The proposed motion reads as follows: “Be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly urge the Government to immediately demand that the Government of Canada introduce amendments to the National Energy Board Act that would prohibit the Board from considering upstream and downstream emissions in pipeline approval assessments.”

The legislature session began on Monday.

“Asking questions of the premier is of course the most visible, high-profile part of that job.”Jason NixonRimbey-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre MLA

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Dan Singleton

Dan Singleton is the editor of the Mountain View Gazette who joined the newspaper in 1994. He covers news, municipal politics and community events in Mountain View County. He is also a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.