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September 3rd, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 34
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Jim Prentice takes questions
from area residents
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Ezra Black Photo
On Aug. 27, PC leadership candidate Jim Prentice explained his bid to govern the province to several dozen residents at Lion’s Hall in Blairmore. “The Crowsnest Pass wants in,” quipped Prentice to the assembled crowd. “I’ve crisscrossed the province spreading that message on our collective behalf.”
EZRA BLACK
Pass Herald Reporter
After outlining his five-point plan for governing the province in front of several dozen residents at Lion’s Hall on Aug. 27, PC leadership candidate Jim Prentice took questions from the audience on a range of issues including the twinning of Highway 3, the lack of recreation infrastructure in Southern Alberta and the state of the province’s healthcare services.

Q. A representative from the MD of Ranchland asked about the position of Minister of Municipal Affairs.
“We’re now on our third Minister of Municipal Affairs since we took our chairs after the last municipal election,” said the representative. “Will you give us a break and leave us with a minister that we can develop relationships with?”
A. The cabinet is going to be smaller and dramatically different, said Prentice. It is also going to be significantly younger and it will be based on merit and integrity. People who are in the current cabinet will not necessarily be in the next one.

Q. Unlike the rest of the province the Crowsnest Pass has been shrinking said Oliver Strickland, executive sales manager at Rocky Mountain Properties.
Strickland said part of the problem has been the provincial Department of Transportation, which has been buying up land in the Pass for the twinning of Highway 3 and discouraging developers.
“Being premier, would you see moving Highway 3 to a higher priority?”
A. “If part of the problem is the regulatory uncertainty that’s being created by not having the highway resolved then they should resolve the issue. Nobody I talk to says they want to see the Crowsnest Pass to be like Canmore but we need a higher level of economic activity here.”
continued below...


Q. Kevin Finn, Chairman of Castle Mountain resort, asked if Prentice would agree to pave the road between Castle Mountain and Highway 3.
“Every weekend on Highway 3 it is bumper to bumper Albertans going to B.C. to recreate. My view is it is because we don’t have the recreation or tourism infrastructure to retain them,” he said. “They spend millions of dollars outside the province.”
“Castle Mountain resort is the only major ski facility in western Canada that is not served by a paved road. The last three premiers have all promised that they will pave that road, 18 years and we’re still waiting.”
Kevin said part of the problem is a lack of communication between provincial departments that don’t have correlating values and objectives.
A. Prentice was noncommittal about paving the road to Castle Mountain but said that a lack of leadership was contributing to the problem.
“If you don’t have a premier driving the train, government departments will bicker and pursue their own agendas,” he said.

Q. Finn also asked how Prentice planned to involve himself in negotiations with First Nations over the Northern Gateway Pipeline.
“Seems to me the [First Nations] want to negotiate their land rights with the federal government. How does the premier of Alberta get involved in that to get pipeline access to the West Coast?”
A. Both Premier Christy Clarke and the First Nations along the proposed pipeline route want an understanding with the government of Alberta, Prentice replied.
He said the dispute over the pipeline began after energy companies and governments failed to address First Nation’s environmental concerns.
“Anybody who thinks that the pipeline companies are going to sort this out for us is dreaming in Technicolour,” he said.

Q. Dr. Allan Garbutt asked for comment on Alberta Health Services (AHS).
A. “I think [AHS] has become too large; it’s the largest employer in Alberta and the sixth largest provider of health care services on the planet,” replied Prentice.
Prentice said the province’s 13 Health Advisory Committees should be reporting directly to the Minister of Health and not the AHS board.
“They need to be the eyes and ears of Albertans in rural Alberta of what’s going on at the local hospital. Right now that is not getting into the system,” he said.
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September 3rd ~ Vol. 84 No. 34
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