Premier Jim Prentice's first tour of duty in the Alberta legislature was a disappointing "do-over" that foreshadows little vision and a hard swing to the political right, critics said Thursday.
"I don't see the leadership forward. I see the leadership back and sideways," said Liberal house leader Laurie Blakeman, a day after the legislature wrapped up its first sitting under Mr. Prentice.
"It's definitely going hard right. He is chasing that right vote."
The house sat for 15 days over the past four weeks. It passed legislation to clean up government and pulled back on controversial rules for gay students setting up school friendship clubs.
Mr. Prentice took over in September from scandal-plagued former premier Alison Redford. She quit the top job in March ahead of a party and caucus revolt over, among other issues, lavish spending on herself and her inner circle.
Mr. Prentice promised new rules to clean up government and on Wednesday the house passed the Alberta Accountability Act. It expands conflict-of-interest guidelines for political staff and extends a cooling-off period for those who leave government, but want to come back later to lobby or work for it.
It also restricts the amount of severance that can be paid to departing staff and changes the rules in an attempt to assure a more level playing field for companies bidding on government work.
But the severance and procurement changes aren't contained in legislation. They are Treasury Board directives, meaning they can be changed on short notice by the governing Tories behind closed doors.
NDP Leader Rachel Notley said Mr. Prentice promised to put those changes in law. She called the watered-down law "all hat, no cattle."
"I've seen a clear pattern of over-promising and under-delivering [by Mr. Prentice]," Ms. Notley said.
"Overall, this session has been marked by a premier who has done nothing but undo the record of the previous premier. That, to me, is not vision. That's panicked issue management."
Ms. Notley called the session a "do-over" for the Tories.
Government House Leader Jonathan Denis said the session was a success on both sides of the aisle, noting the Tories worked with the Opposition Wildrose party on an amendment to the Accountability Act.
The act sets a tone for politicians of all stripes to follow, he suggested.