Brian Jean makes cam­paign stop in val­ley

The Drumheller Mail - - FRONT PAGE - Patrick Ko­lafa The Drumheller Mail

While the nom­i­na­tion pe­riod for the lead­er­ship of the United Con­ser­va­tive Party is well a week away, the cam­paign is in full swing as Brian Jean made a stop in the val­ley last week.

The former Wil­drose Party leader was on a tour through East Cen­tral Al­berta and dropped into the Yavis Fam­ily Restau­rant to meet with res­i­dents on Wed­nes­day, Au­gust 30.

“The cam­paign is do­ing re­ally well, I am see­ing peo­ple all over the province and the re­cep­tion has been ex­cel­lent,” said Jean.

Mem­ber­ship sales to vote are on sale un­til Septem­ber 29 and Jean has been fo­cus­ing on that as he moves for­ward.

“With a mem­ber­ship, not only do you get to de­cide who the next leader of the party is and the next leader of the province, but more im­por­tantly you get to de­cide on the pol­icy of this new party and ul­ti­mately the pol­icy for the government of Al­berta,” he said.

He says his ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­en­ti­ates him from the other lead­er­ship hope­fuls. He has run over a dozen suc­cess­ful busi­nesses and also prac­ticed law prior to be­com­ing an MP fed­er­ally, and then en­ter­ing into pro­vin­cial pol­i­tics.

“There is no one in the race as far as I am con­cerned that has as much ex­pe­ri­ence po­lit­i­cally or in law or busi­ness,” said Jean.

He said Al­ber­tans are look­ing for a leader.

“Right now Al­ber­tans are look­ing for some­one to unite them, some­body to bring them to­gether, and some­one who has a com­mon pur­pose and strong vi­sion on where they want to take Al­berta, a bet­ter Al­berta than it is cur­rently un­der the NDP. I be­lieve that I am that per­son, I am a uniter, I pull peo­ple to­gether, I em­power them, I en­cour­age them,” he said.

It has been a lively cam­paign pe­riod, with Derek Filde­brandt, a vo­cal Ja­son Ken­ney sup­porter, re­sign­ing af­ter it was learned he was rent­ing out his government sub­si­dized Ed­mon­ton home. This week Jean has been field­ing ques­tions about over­spend­ing in the Wil­drose Cau­cus bud­get.

Jean hopes the spirit of the cam­paign doesn’t dam­age the brand of the party.

“We have worked so hard to

max­i­mum se­cu­rity hous­ing and ad­e­quate min­i­mum se­cu­rity work camp place­ments, close to 50 per cent of the prison pop­u­la­tion fell within the medium se­cu­rity clas­si­fi­ca­tion. Due to the growth, the government planned to build four in­sti­tu­tions, with one to be lo­cated in the Mar­itimes, one in Que­bec, one in On­tario and one in West­ern Canada.

With in­sti­tu­tions al­ready in Saskatchewan and Bri­tish Columbia, Al­berta seemed like a fit for a new medium se­cu­rity in­sti­tu­tion.

Drumheller at the time was clas­si­fied as a de­pressed area. The great coal ma­chine that drove the econ­omy for so many years was on its way out. Many fam­i­lies moved away with the in­dus­try, and the ones that stuck around were swim­ming in un­em­ploy­ment.

Cham­ber of Com­merce mem­bers Joe Shear­law and Fran­cis Porter learned of the re­port and be­gan to talk to then MP Charles John­son. A com­mit­tee of the Cham­ber was struck which in­cluded the two, and lawyer W.H. San­der­cock. Af­ter John­son was de­feated in a gen­eral elec­tion, M.P. El­don Wool­liams was the new rep­re­sen­ta­tive and he too cham­pi­oned Drumheller as the site. By then the com­mit­tee was firmly en­trenched in the lob­by­ing ef­fort.

The first con­crete hint the in­sti­tu­tion was to be for­ever part of Drumheller was from Wool­liams on March 7, 1962. On March 21, the fed­eral Depart­ment of Jus­tice con­firmed Wool­liams’ news. The in­sti­tu­tion would ac­com­mo­date 450 in­mates, have a staff of 175 and an an­nual pay­roll of $1 mil­lion.

The Drumheller Mail re­ported on June 13, 1962, that the site of the In­sti­tu­tion was pur­chased from local farmer Wal­ter Klam­ski. Ten­ders for the project were re­leased on Jan­uary 1, 1965, and the Hon­ourable Min­is­ter of Agri­cul­ture Harry Hays of­fi­cially broke ground on the $6.5 mil­lion project in April.

In 1966, Pierre Jus­tras was ap­pointed the first war­den for the Drumheller In­sti­tu­tion, and Stan Scrut­ton was ap­pointed deputy war­den. In Oc­to­ber of 1966, the first re­cruits to staff the in­sti­tu­tion were sworn in as peace of­fi­cers.

The con­struc­tion con­tin­ued and res­i­dents were so ex­cited, it was not un­com­mon to see a gag­gle of on­look­ers at a view­point near the wa­ter tower watch­ing the progress. The view­point was even in­cluded in Drumheller travel brochures.

The of­fi­cial open­ing of the In­sti­tu­tion was on Au­gust 25, 1967. About 400 guests and dig­ni­taries were in­vited to the open­ing, and toured the fa­cil­ity. They were not the first guests how­ever. On Au­gust 16, 25 in­mates from Prince Al­bert en­tered the In­sti­tu­tion.

When the prison opened, a num­ber of liv­ing units and build­ings were still un­der con­struc­tion. As they were com­pleted, they were filled.

In the in­sti­tu­tion’s his­tory, it has served in myr­iad ca­pac­i­ties, pro­vid­ing em­ploy­ment for the com­mu­nity and labour for local busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions. The vo­ca­tional shops have con­trib­uted its work to a num­ber of causes in­side the com­mu­nity and be­yond. This has served the com­mu­nity, but also built the nec­es­sary skills for in­mates to start anew af­ter serv­ing their time.

Re­cent suc­cesses in­clude the in­mate labour that helped to build the af­ford­able hous­ing units in Drumheller. This sig­nif­i­cantly cut the cost to this mu­nic­i­pal project, while at the same time gain­fully em­ployed in­mates and al­lowed them to work to­ward ap­pren­tice pro­grams.

About five years ago, the government made a com­mit­ment that will en­sure the impact of the in­sti­tu­tion will last for an­other gen­er­a­tion. It an­nounced a $25 mil­lion to ex­pand the Medium Se­cu­rity Unit and Min­i­mum Se­cu­rity Unit.

To mark the oc­ca­sion they are hold­ing a Free­dom of the Town cer­e­mony where past and present staff and the In­sti­tu­tion’s Hon­our Guard will march to Town Hall on Satur­day, Septem­ber 9 at 10 a.m., and af­fix a plaque at Town Hall.

On Satur­day evening they will be host­ing a gala din­ner at the Bad­lands Com­mu­nity Fa­cil­ity.

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