Lo­cal can­di­dates hit the cam­paign trail

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Politics - BY GIL­LIAN SLADE South­ern Al­berta News­pa­pers

Within hours of the elec­tion be­ing called can­di­dates in Cy­press-Medicine Hat rid­ing were on the cam­paign trail.

UCP in­cum­bent Drew Barnes said he had a team putting up elec­tion signs, NDP can­di­date Pe­ter Mueller said he could al­ready see the “fin­ish line” and the Al­berta Party’s Co­lette Smithers said it was “game on.”

Mueller said Al­ber­tans need to com­pare the two lead­ers, Rachel Not­ley’s NDP and Ja­son Ken­ney’s UCP.

“If you look at the prom­ises of each one of them they’re dra­mat­i­cally dif­fer­ent,” said Mueller, who be­lieves it will make it eas­ier to choose the NDP.

“It’s time for re­spect for tax­pay­ers dol­lars. It’s time for the next gov­ern­ment to make sure that they get the most value for tax pay­ers that they can. Al­ber­tans have said time and time again that they want a strong econ­omy with qual­ity pub­lic ser­vices and that will be my goal,” said Barnes.

Smithers said the Al­berta Party is of­fer­ing vot­ers a rea­son­able mid­dle ground, a place where they can have their voices heard and have open con­ver­sa­tions about what is im­por­tant to peo­ple in Cy­press-Medicine Hat.

“The Al­berta Party of­fers an in­clu­sive con­ver­sa­tion. We’re look­ing at op­por­tu­ni­ties for ev­ery Al­ber­tan to share in the pros­per­ity of this prov­ince.”

Barnes thinks the No. 1 is­sue is jobs and the econ­omy, with a need to fo­cus on grow­ing pro­vin­cial debt to avoid fur­ther bur­den on fu­ture gen­er­a­tions

Mueller be­lieves the UCP’s ap­proach favours the wealthy and will mean changes to health care that amounts to pri­va­ti­za­tion plus cuts to ed­u­ca­tion fund­ing.

“There are des­per­ate needs in ed­u­ca­tion and I don’t be­lieve that they are go­ing to be met with the UCP gov­ern­ment,” said Mueller. Barnes dis­agrees.

“The UCP will fund the same lev­els as are be­ing funded now. The NDP has shown time and time again that there’s room for ef­fi­ciency and ef­fec­tive­ness changes,” said Barnes. “The UCP will keep high qual­ity fund­ing es­pe­cially for front line work­ers and ser­vices. We’ll look for value where nec­es­sary.”

Mueller said the NDP gov­ern­ment had to han­dle the “dis­as­trous” sit­u­a­tion left by the for­mer Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment, with Rachel Not­ley ris­ing to the oc­ca­sion.

Barnes agrees some of the debt un­der the NDP has been in­curred through in­fra­struc­ture projects such as schools and hos­pi­tals but says some projects were started un­der the for­mer Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment.

“The NDP has a much bet­ter plan, cre­at­ing jobs, invit­ing in­vest­ments and their view is that by 2023 they will have elim­i­nated the deficit. The debt will still re­main but the deficit will have been met,” said Mueller.

Barnes says peo­ple are pleased that the UCP’s pri­or­ity will be to elim­i­nate the car­bon tax.

“My goal will be to make Al­berta the free-en­ter­prise leader of North Amer­ica and the best place to raise a fam­ily, and fam­ily ser­vices need to be af­ford­able,” said Barnes.

Smithers says the Al­berta Party ap­pre­ci­ates and cel­e­brates the di­ver­sity in peo­ple and op­por­tu­ni­ties in Al­berta.

“The Al­berta Party of­fers a so­cially pro­gres­sive ap­proach with an im­por­tant fo­cus on fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity,” said Smithers. “We have en­dured so much po­lar­iza­tion and an­i­mos­ity and ex­clu­siv­ity, in the cur­rent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate ... this is about Al­ber­tans’ fu­ture.”

Re­cent me­dia cov­er­age of al­le­ga­tions that UCP leader Ja­son Ken­ney col­luded to win the lead­er­ship con­test by col­lud­ing with an­other can­di­date who later with­drew from the race, is not go­ing to af­fect the cam­paign in this rid­ing, said Barnes.

“Kenny has made him­self very avail­able to all me­dia re­quests to han­dle it. It’s clear now that it was just two cam­paigns look­ing for sec­ond votes in a pref­er­en­tial bal­lot sys­tem,” said Barnes.

The Lib­eral Party can­di­date An­war Ka­ma­ran did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

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