Candidates continue to square off as election approaches

With the provincial election right around the corner, candidates are in the final push of their campaigns.

The campaign heated up last week as political parties continued to go head-to-head on various issues.

The Progressive Conservative Party called on the Wildrose Alliance to send their candidates, not just one of their Senate candidates, to local forums across the province to engage in open dialogue with all Albertans.

“Albertans have a big choice to make,” said Premier Alison Redford. “They need to choose between stark contrasts on big issues.”

She added those issues include health care – private delivery using private ‘Wildrose Hospitals’ or investing in 140 Family Care Clinics; and education – sending out $300 cheques to every Albertan or building 50 new schools and renovating 70 more.

“We know what the Wildrose Alliance leader says. What does her team say? I encourage Danielle Smith, who championed her team at the debate, to ensure that they attend all local forums and show Albertans who would be part of the legislature,” she said. “During an election, it is not only the leader’s voice and opinions that matter. An open dialogue between candidates and constituents is vital. My team is committed to understanding and representing the views of their constituents and bringing those views back to the legislature.

“We have been clear and transparent in our vision, our commitments and our policies. My team invites Albertans to hear from them directly in local venues on how a PC government would engage Albertans in building a better Alberta.”

On the weekend, Smith accused Redford of “buying votes” with taxpayer dollars.

She said the Wildrose obtained a letter sent from Redford to the PC candidate and Minister for Seniors, George VanderBrurg, in Whitecourt-Ste. Anne in which Redford not only promises a new hospital for residents in Whitecourt, but also assures that this project will be bumped up on the Provincial Capital Plan for infrastructure. The letter is dated April 12, 2012.

“Perhaps even more shameful than the letter itself, VanderBurg has been handing it out like candy to local residents,” Smith said in a press release. “Redford has been going into communities making lavish promise after lavish promise – including $86 million for her own riding of Calgary-Elbow. How many of these letters has she sent to other communities in Alberta, in which she commits to substantial investments and has no means to pay for them?

“Albertans sick of playing politics with infrastructure. Redford stood in front of Albertans three days ago insisting she was different, that the PCs were different under her leadership. But Redford cannot fix the PC culture of corruption, because she has become a main player. It’s time for Albertans to have a genuine voice in what is funded and when in their communities. This will happen under a Wildrose government. No longer will politicians be able to play favourites with public funds.”

Liberal Leader Raj Sherman said he believes Albertans are getting fed up with both of the right-wing parties.

“I think a lot of Albertans have reached the point where they’re saying, ‘A pox on both your houses’,” he said. “The leaders of the two right-wing parties have done little except throw mud. By completely ignoring the needs of Albertans, they have made it clear that neither right-wing party can be trusted with a majority government.”

Sherman said the mud storm that is Election 2012 started with allegations that Redford does not love Alberta and escalated with inappropriate tweets about Smith not having any children. Since then, the mud has continued to fly – obscuring some important facts. One is that neither right-wing party has a fiscally responsible plan that would address problems in health care, education, or seniors’ care.

“The reckless and irresponsible policies of Alison Redford and Danielle Smith should give pause to anybody who cares about progressive values and fiscal responsibility,” said Sherman. “Both leaders want to privatize health care, education, and seniors’ care – and neither one has a clue how to balance the budget. We’re in for a rough ride if either of them wins a majority.”

Voters will head to the polls next Monday.

Also check out the profiles of the local candidates on pages 43-46.