Red Deer candidates vying to represent the City’s south and north constituencies squared off in a public forum Monday evening at the Memorial Centre.
In front of a packed house, candidates detailed their platforms – to varying degrees – along with filling audience members in on their employment and community experiences that they feel would make them suitable MLAs.
Voters head to the polls on May 5th.
“My first priority would always be to the people of Red Deer South – I value honesty, integrity, community, family and hard work. I want opportunities and economic prosperity and an honest government for all,” said Norm Weibe, Wildrose candidate for Red Deer South. “This is why I chose the Wildrose,” he said, later emphasizing several times that his party is the only one that wouldn’t raise taxes. “I want to see our communities properly represented in government. I want to see our families respected by government.”
Barb Miller, NDP candidate for Red Deer South, had a bad case of laryngitis, but that didn’t stop her from emphasizing her party’s recognition of how people in general are looking for change. “For a very long time, people in Red Deer have been thinking about electing a new government,” she said. “When I knock on doors, people are telling me that after 44 years, they are disappointed that Alberta continues to be stuck in a ‘boom and bust’ cycle.
“The fact is, after four leaders in four years, people don’t trust this roller coaster,” she said. “They succeeded last time in scaring people away from voting for the Wildrose, only to welcome them into their team.
“To me this isn’t an election. It’s a referendum on Jim Prentice’s budget.”
Miller said the NDP wants to grant tax credits to those businesses who in turn create jobs, adding the PCs don’t have a job creation plan. “I believe we have the right priorities for Red Deer.”
William Berry, an independent candidate for Red Deer South, spoke through Joanna Berry. “I will work diligently to reduce government waste, incompentcy and old boy networks that looks after their party members and financial backers.
“My lips will not be moving – only my mind, and my pen.”
Berry said he wouldn’t make any promise that he wouldn’t keep. “I am a fighter for the rights of every Albertan.”
Ben Dubois, Green candidate for Red Deer South, said his party stands for ecological wisdom, non-violence, participatory democracy, respect for diversity, social justice and sustainability.
Krystal Kromm, Alberta Party candidate for Red Deer North, said now is the time to make strategic infrastructure investments in the Red Deer Airport. “An expanded runway at the airport will be an economic driver for our community.
“The Alberta Party also wants to diversify our economy with market-driven solutions and make it easier to start and grow business,” she said. “Our party also doesn’t view education as a cost to be cut, but as an investment in our future.”
Her plan also includes a 1% corporate tax increase which will tie Alberta with the lowest corporate rate in Canada.
Kim Schreiner, NDP candidate for Red Deer North, said she has been very vocal in the health sector, advocating for those who need it the most.
“I was involved with trying to prevent the closure of both Valley Park Manor and the Red Deer Nursing home – the residents and their families were happy there, and they didn’t want to move,” she said. “I marched in the snow, rain and the heat of the sun in an effort to keep Michener Centre open.
“After listening to the public outcry, our government was forced to admit a mistake had been made and they reversed the decision to close.
“Rachel Notley, and the NDP, are all about putting you, your family and your community first,” she said, adding the NDP is the only party that has job creation on their platform.
She also pointed out that the province must keep up with the thousands of new students expected to flow into the province over the next few years.
“We will also work with, and not exclude, school boards on important decision making.”
Patti Argent, an independent candidate for Red Deer South, said, “Democratic government by design is created to serve people, and good government does just that.
“I am running with the hope of initiating change,” she said. “I want to be very clear – I am not a politician. I am a very concerned mother, a very concerned grandmother and a very concerned citizen of Alberta and in particular of Red Deer South. I feel there are many things we need to address, but first we must address the very founding principles of democracy and see to it that these principles are adhered to.”
Michael Dawe, Liberal candidate for Red Deer North, said he has been nominated by the Green party for Red Deer North as well. “My aim is to provide a positive voice for change that does not follow traditional party politics. While I have supported my two parties, I have made it clear that if I do not agree with a particular party platform, I will vote according to the wishes of the voters and my ethical principles. I will not be one of those who will be simply following the orders of a small group of partisan power brokers,” he said.
“I am committed to true public accountability. If I do not keep all of the promises I have made throughout the election, I will sign a legal document that I can removed by a petition of the majority of the voters in my constituency.”
Darcy Mykytyshyn, PC candidate for Red Deer South, said while door knocking he has heard three distinct messages – “We solely cannot cut our way to prosperity, and we solely cannot tax our way to prosperity. We need to ensure we are making the investments that are propelling the province into the future.
“The constituents are telling me that we should run the province like they run their households, and if elected that is exactly what I intend to do,” he said. “Over the next three years – regardless of what the price of oil is – we will reduce spending, we will raise revenues and we will use the money we’ve already saved in the contingency fund to balance the budget by 2018.”
Buck Buchanan, Wildrose candidate for Red Deer North, said the Wildrose party is the only party that won’t raise taxes. “We also shouldn’t base our kids’ education on the price of a barrel of oil, and we will not do that.”
Serge Gingras, Alberta Party candidate for Red Deer South, said currently, “We are seeing larger classes, less support for learners and teachers, fee increases and heavier workloads for teachers.
“Education is an investment in our future and funding must be predictable, sustainable and sufficient.
“We also need a strategy for Alzheimer’s disease and dementias, to start addressing the future needs of those affected and their loved ones who become primary caregivers.” Adequate housing and support for seniors must also be top priorities, he said.
Christine Moore, PC candidate for Red Deer North, said her decision to run is based on her passion for making things better. “It is my way of influencing the public debate on important issues, to speak out for people who may not have a voice, and work for the greater good of Red Deer North.
“I will work hard to ensure that all students have access to their chosen field of learning, including degree programs. I will also advocate that this education be affordable for all students.
“We also need to ensure that our seniors have the opportunity to age in their communities, close to family and friends and have continuing care available when they need it.”
Deborah Checkel, Liberal candidate for Red Deer South, said there are a number of issues ranging from, “Health care and education to the current fiscal budget and the mismanagement of taxpayer dollars.”
She said she’s also talked to seniors about how they have to travel lengthy distances to visit their spouses in other facilities. “I’ve spoken to frontline workers facing cuts to training and witnessing unnecessary wastage in the process.
“The Alberta Liberals are standing up for all these concerns. Our fiscal plan will eliminate small business tax, raise taxes for large and multi-national corporations and implement progressive taxes for Alberta families.”