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Spending spree rolls on

<p>Armed with two giant novelty cheques and a string of good-news announcements, Premier Ed Stelmach continued his spending spree yesterday while inching ever closer to a provincial election.</p>

Mayor Mandel, AISH recipients latest to get provincial cash





« Sometimes we’re not as nice to deal with as we could be, but, in this instance, I’m very pleased to receive any kind of money in cheques that we can get. »





Armed with two giant novelty cheques and a string of good-news announcements, Premier Ed Stelmach continued his spending spree yesterday while inching ever closer to a provincial election.



Stelmach handed over $96 million to Mayor Stephen Mandel yesterday to help pay for city projects like roadways, LRT expansion and affordable housing — even though the funding had already been announced several months ago.



"We have more to come in this area," Stelmach told reporters gathered in city hall. "The mayor has tremendous ideas of how we can work together."



Mandel, who famously launched an attack ad campaign against the premier in October for more city funding, was all smiles, dismissing their past differences.



"Sometimes we’re not as nice to deal with as we could be, but, in this instance, I’m very pleased to receive any kind of money in cheques that we can get," he said.



Earlier in the day, Stelmach told a luncheon crowd that he’ll increase funding to the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped, up $38 per month to $1088.



The two announcements capped off ten days of pledges continuously generated by the premier’s office, including rolling out multimillion-dollar upgrades to the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary.



The Stelmach government also pledged to build 14 new Alberta schools, spend $190 million in school upgrades, secure the pay off $2.1 billion in unfunded pension for Alberta teachers and support a province-wide stroke strategy for $22.5 million.



Critics say all are further signs that the premier is heading into an election, rumoured to be called right after Monday’s throne speech or on Tuesday morning.



Tory party billboards have appeared in Calgary this week while ads are expected to be placed on Jasper Ave. and Yellowhead Trail in the next two days.



The Liberals held an "alternate throne speech" last night while the New Democrats are hosting an event in Lethbridge with several candidates.



NDP Leader Brian Mason released a statement calling the premier’s pledges "pre-election sleight of hand."



"The Tories are playing fast and loose with the facts to try and make their $56-billion infrastructure debt go away before they call the election," he said.




steve.lillebuen@metronews.ca



 
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