Prairie Post (East Edition)

Morishita wants common sense approach with government and upcoming byelection

- By Ryan Dahlman

Alberta Party leader Barry Morishita is prepared for anything, even a quickturna­round byelection in the BrooksMedi­cine Hat constituen­cy. He is running against the newly sworn-in Premier Danielle Smith and NDP candidate Gwendoline Dirk. The byelection was called after former MLA Michaela Glasgo resigned and allowed the newly-elected UCP leader to run in a riding.

The Nov. 8 election sees Morishita in his first opportunit­y to run in a provincial election as leader. He was a Brooks councillor for ten years, mayor for six years and was also president of the Alberta Urban Municipali­ties Associatio­n. Now, he is in his first provincial political election.

While the premier is running in this riding and the opportunit­y for the Forgotten Corner to no longer ‘be forgotten', Morishita says Smith doesn't really care about the constituen­cy. She had opportunit­ies to run in other constituen­cies but Smith decided this was the best route.

“This is just opportunis­m. As many ways as you can cut it, with little or no effort, with little or no knowledge. She's never lived here, it's disingenuo­us, it's hypocritic­al, … it's kind of a slap in the face to people who live here,” explains Morishita who has lived in Brooks his entire life.

Morishita adds that while this is a byelection he wants to wins, The main general election is in May 2023 but he still is going hard to win this. He thinks he can.

“We'll take a run at it; we're here to win; I'm gonna work for the 27 days left, it's gonna count and I think that should be your clear expectatio­ns: to be MLA. That's how you earn respect and considerat­ion that you're here. You're here every day. And to be clear, though, that's how we expect our employees to show that you're committed and you care and you're willing to listen and take so this is normally a dry run. This is how we plan to run and do the best thing for the community. I think people are gonna to be surprised.

“(Smith) wants an advantage, wants to be in the legislatur­e, just wants to win. She's not worried about what's happened in Medicine Hat. She doesn't. She didn't analyze 87 ridings, I know. If it were me,

I'd say which is the best place where we need the most help? Where can I do the most good? (Smith) looked at 87 writings and thought which one was the easiest toward her to win — in her mind. And I think she's made a mistake. I think some people are going to be like you said — excited, you know the possibilit­y of having the premier as your MLA or your representa­tive — and I can see the shiny appeal. But but in the depth of it over a whole return, how is she really going to serve Medicine Hat, if she doesn't know Medicine Hat is in her books? She doesn't know what's going on here, so that's our message.”

Not surprising­ly, he was in a coffee shop in Medicine Hat, talking to voters about the issues and what is important to them during this discussion. Morishita says this is the biggest issue in general Alberta right now where the government is out of touch with Albertans and the government only addresses what they feel like.

“We saw two things, one, a complete disconnect­ion with communitie­s. The core things like healthcare, education, support services, safety. Communitie­s have to be embedded in that, they have to know, they live there, they have to understand what's' happening, Quite frankly over the course of the last three government­s have come in and have tried to centralize everything to the point that they go, here's the rule book, sorry if you don't fit in. We seen a lot of stress and lot of crisis because of that happening (lies closing of maternity clinics). That was the message we heard (repeatedly), no matter who was in charge, the government doesn't understand me, they are not responding.

“The second thing that came loud and clear was the frustratio­n we have with what I call podium politics. That's where the leader of the day or the opposition of the day says something from the podium, says we ‘re going to do this, or we're going to fix that and this is how it's going to go and they never really talk to anybody about what they are going to do and then everybody is surprised at how the outcome doesn't work and that's because they never really thought about it. The political statement was the thing to do

and people are very tired of it, they don't believe it anymore.”

The Alberta Party leader says he understand­s the thoughts of Albertans as Morishita and his team did a lot of touring during the course of the summer.

They reached 30 communitie­s and were everywhere as far as south as Taber and north to Bonnyville and Marwayne.

Morishita was encouraged from the feedback and the attitude towards the party. It was important for the Alberta Party leader to connect with voters. During his tour of Alberta in the summer, the same concerns were often repeated.

“Obviously we were raising the profile of the Alberta Party, looking for candidates, trying to put the structure in place so we can run a good election in 2023, kind of building towards that has been the goal all along. Then, of course, when May came along and Mr. Kenney decided that he would resign, that kind of changed everything and they kind of put the brakes on a lot of stuff because that dislike and dissatisfa­ction that had grown with Mr. Kenney as premier, had kind of stopped and said, ‘Okay, well, maybe there's another option. We'll just wait to see, so we've been in that ‘wait and see' mode,” explained Morishita.

“But there are still two common themes that I saw. One is the complete disconnect­ion with community. And by that, I mean I think the needs of the core things that we talked about healthcare, education, support services, safety. Communi

ties have to be very embedded in that they have to be part of that because they know we live here. Quite frankly, over the course of the last several years …it's where ‘here's the rulebook, sorry if you don't fit in', and we've seen a lot of stress in the last (health/Covid) crisis. Come on, maternity clinics here in Medicine Hat and Brooks, babies are born and doctors know what to do the healthcare system, turn that kind of issue into a crisis and the reason it did is because there's so much centraliza­tion initiative­s, more worried about budgets, people weren't allowed the flexibilit­y they needed. So that was people assuming the government ‘doesn't understand me.'

“The second thing that came out loud and clear was a frustratio­n we have with when I call 'podium politics' where the leader of the day or the opposition leader or anybody says something from a podium. He says we're going to do this. We're going to fix that. This is how it's going to go and they don't first of all, they never really looked at everything. And then they're everybody's surprised about how the outcome doesn't work well, because they never thought a political statement was the thing to do and people say, Well, I'm going to fix health care. Well, we'll tell you what you're going to fix. Don't worry, we're going to restructur­e, we're going to fire this person and redo it and it's going to be better. Well, we've heard that people are looking at it, but you're not listening (to real, consise solutions.”

 ?? ?? Barry Morishita (far left) and his team are ready for the byelection.
Barry Morishita (far left) and his team are ready for the byelection.

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