September 3rd, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 34
Meet your Progressive Conservative leadership candidates
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Left to right, Jim Prentice, Ric McIver and Thomas Lunkasuk.
Pass Herald Reporter
PC Party members will elect the next premier. The first ballot vote for the PC leadership will be held Sept. 6. If no candidate receives more than 50 per cent on the first ballot, the top two candidates will compete in a second ballot vote on Sept. 20.
The local boy
Jim Prentice, 58, has been employed as a vice-president with CIBC. He recently took on a job with Enbridge to work with First Nation’s groups opposed to the company’s proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline. He put himself through university working "under the bins" in the coal mines of the Crowsnest Pass. On the federal level he’s held a number of cabinet positions including Industry, Environment, and Indian Affairs and Northern Development. He also served as chair of the Operations Committee.
The goods
On Aug. 27, Prentice gave a presentation 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 behalves.”
Accompanied by his wife Karen, one of his daughters and sister Lori, Prentice was introduced by longtime friend and Crowsnest resident Fred Bradley and outlined his five-point plan for governing the province if he wins the election.
“I did my tour of duty in Ottawa. I was in the federal public service for about ten years. I left because I thought the job had been done,” he said. “For the last four years I’ve been doing what all you folks have been doing. I’ve been minding my business and paying my taxes and getting increasingly disappointed over what’s going on in the province.”
Prentice stressed fiscal responsibility, a pledge to build the Northern Gateway pipeline, environmental responsibility, a commitment to build infrastructure and a bid to win public trust for the beleaguered PC Party.
“We’re going to run surplus budgets because if Alberta can’t operate its finances in the black ink, I don’t know if there’s hope for any [government] in North America.”
He called for putting 50 percent of the surpluses into savings accounts, including the Heritage Trust Fund, and the other half to be used for paying down debt and building infrastructure.
Alluding to recent PC expense scandals, Prentice said that fiscal responsibility for the party needed to start at the premiers position and that he would treat the province’s money with respect.
“We are going to restore the confidence of people in government,” he said.
“For six years… there was not ten cents of controversy around public money that I was involved in.”
Prentice is a proponent of the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline, which would transport the province’s bitumen to Kitimat B.C. and Asian markets.
“They can never again be our only customer,” said Prentice in regards to the United States.
Two years ago, the province was selling its oil into the American market for $50 per barrel when the global price was $110 per barrel.
“We’re not going to change this until we access the Asia/Pacific Basin,” he said. “The only way we’re going to get world prices for Alberta’s oil is if we build pipelines to the west coast for sale in the Asia/Pacific markets.”
The leadership candidate, who spoke about his love for fly-fishing and the beauty of the Crowsnest Pass, said the province’s reputation on environmental conservation is in shambles.
“We were one of the first places to have a minister of environment. We had modern environmental legislation,” he said. “Along the way we got off track and we’ve ended up, on the world stage, as public enemy number one when it comes to the environment.”
The province’s population is growing at triple the national average and is slated to have over five million residents by the end of the decade, Prentice said.
He said a lack of schools, hospitals and seniors residences has been a concern in many of the communities he’s visited on the campaign.
Every year 100,000 people come to the province bringing 15,000 school age children which means an additional 28 new schools must be built.
Prentice pledged to address the shortfall of 100 schools and to complete modernization programs on an additional 70.
Eight hundred new senior housing units are being built annually. Prentice said the province needs double that figure and proposed partnerships with communities of faith and other organizations to build more units.
“We stopped building the things that Peter Lougheed used to talk about that made us unique as a society; the schools for our kid, quality care for our seniors and the best public healthcare facilities in North America,” he said.
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The former Minister of Transport
Ric McIver, 56, moved to Alberta from Woodstock Ontario in 1981. His wife Christine is the founder and CEO of the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta. They have four children and two grandchildren, all living in Calgary.
The goods
When asked why he should be elected McIver referred to the alleged expense abuses of the other candidates.
“The campaign seems to be settling on the trust issue,” said McIver. “Of the three candidates I’m the only one the Canadian Tax Payers Federation says they have no problem with my expenses where they have some fairly large problems with the other candidates.”
McIver referred to Prentice’s six minute chartered flight across the city of Calgary from one airport to the other and other alleged abuses contained in the 3,000 pages of Prentice’s expense records.
Recently, after reports they were destroyed, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation released Prentice’s expense records from his time as head of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
According to The National Post the documents show Prentice took a charter flight from Calgary to Fort Macleod, another flight between Calgary, Edson and Grande Cache in 2008 and a helicopter ride to the Farnborough International Airshow.
Carrying on with the theme of ethics, McIver said that the senior members of his campaign team and any companies that they own would be ineligible for government contracts.
In addition, he said people who lobby the government would no longer be eligible for government contracts and that his senior staff would not make more than the premier, as was the case in previous administrations.
Regarding negotiating with First Nations for the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline, McIver pointed out that he had successfully negotiated with First Nations during his time as Transportation Minister.
“During my time as Transportation Minister we completed the negotiations to get Highway 43 between Grand Prairie and Edmonton completed through a reserve,” he said. “That had been 20 years outstanding.”
He also completed negotiations with the Stoney First Nations to get the government permission to widen Highway 1A west of Cochrane and explained his plan to expand high speed Internet in rural Alberta.
Though McIver is the only candidate who is expense scandal free, he did participate in the March for Jesus in June even though organizers made anti-gay remarks. McIver has apologized for participating and said he was unaware of the remarks posted by the event organizers.
The longtime party member
Thomas Lukaszuk, 45, was born in Gdynia, Poland and immigrated to Canada in 1982. He was been the MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs since 2001 and since 2010 he’s served as the Minister of Employment and Immigration, the Minister of Education, the Deputy Premier, the Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education and most recently the Minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour.
The goods
Lukaszuk said his platform consists of two major plans. One is economic development and the other is social development.
“We’ve done very well economically but we’re still largely dependent on carbon fuels,” he said. “It is high time for this province to start actively diversifying its economy. We’ve always talked about it but we haven’t done a lot of work.”
Lukaszuk said Canada will soon be one of five to seven countries in the world that produces surplus food so the future of the province’s economy could expand into processing, upgrading and refining agricultural products.
He also proposed Albertans leverage the province’s post-secondary institutions to conduct research into human and animal health research.
On the social side, he said the quality of life in Alberta has been lagging in spite of its economic success.
“We can’t compete only with dollars,” he said. “Individuals will leave a place where they’re making good money if they don’t have a good quality of life. Are we building a province we’re proud of that will attract and retain people? Or are we building a work camp?”
He outlined the lack of infrastructure for seniors housing, schools and cultural spaces and a lack of childcare as inhibiting factors for the social health of the province.
He also touched on the Temporary Foreign Worker Program and said Alberta should have greater control over its immigration laws.
“I firmly believe that this province does not need temporary foreign workers,” he said. “We need permanent foreign workers, not temporary foreign workers.”
He also touched on a recent expense scandal relating to a dispute between a cabinet minister and a sibling when he ran up a $20,000 cellphone bill while vacationing in Poland in 2012.
“I was doing research and humanitarian work. It was the middle of the night here in Alberta. A cabinet minister called me on my government phone,” he said.
“The cabinet minister was in distress and told me they were in danger, that police were coming and they needed help.”
“I counseled them on what to do, I helped them retain a lawyer. I made sure the next day that they had been provided with security services.
We had a minister of the crown who was in distress and called me as the deputy premier for help.”
“The cabinet minister dealt with the issue by themselves but at the time it was a very urgent issue.”
Telus did not have a government of Alberta travel package. So the 2 megabytes of data cost $20,000.”
Lukaszuk said the premier’s office tried to negotiate the price but was unsuccessful. The $20,000 cellphone bill was anonymously leaked to the Edmonton Sun and Lukaszuk said the Calgary Police Service is investigating.
How to vote
Voting can be done either online, by phone or at a polling station. For any questions regarding the vote, please call 1-844-244-2014.
September 3rd ~ Vol. 84 No. 34
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