Labour coalition takes aim at Ted Morton

Premier Ed Stelmach's new cabinet members are to be sworn in this morning at Government House but the attack on one new minister has already begun.

Public service organizations are launching a new coalition, with their sights aimed at new Finance Minister Ted Morton.

The Join Together Alberta coalition, comprised of representatives of service, student, labour and educational organizations, is scheduled to launch its campaign today in Calgary and Edmonton.

"It's been in the works for several months, at least since the summer when (Treasury Board president) Lloyd Snelgrove called groups and individuals in to tell us the government was considering big cuts," Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan said. "We're assuming that the upcoming budget will be a bad one."

McGowan said assigning Morton -- seen as one of the most right-wing members of the government caucus -- the finance portfolio could signal "a return to Klein-style cuts. ...Based on his track record and his reputation, it's pretty clear to us that Ted Morton is no friend to public services."

But speaking Thursday in Calgary media, Stelmach discounted notions the cabinet is swinging left or right.

"This is a strong signal that today ... all Albertans have the right team for today's priorities."

Morton said he is committed to sticking with the premier's plan to balance the budget by 2012. Last year, the government introduced its first deficit budget in more than 10 years.

"Nobody gets everything they want," Morton said of the budget, which is expected to be released Feb. 9. "Am I happy with everything? Of course not. Nobody would be. I doubt even the premier's happy with everything. But I support (the budget) 100 per cent."

Edmonton Journal, Fri Jan 15 2010
Byline: Trish Audette

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