Well-known local historian Michael Dawe is seeking the Alberta Liberal nomination for Red Deer North.
“It’s something I’ve thought over for a long time,” said Dawe, adding that one of the main reasons he’s chosen to throw his hat in the ring is his extensive involvement in provincial health care. He served as an elected trustee on the Red Deer Regional Hospital Board from 1983 to 1995 and was chair of the board in 1994-95.
Dawe also was elected a member of the David Thompson Health Authority in 2001 and served until it was dissolved in 2008.
Meanwhile, the nomination process takes place in January, and a provincial election is expected in the spring.
“I feel that the mass consolidations that have taken place in health care in the last couple of years have really failed badly,” he said. “I think we have over-centralized the system, and the decision-making process has broken down. You have people that are totally removed from the situation making decisions.
“The bottom line is we need to open up the system. We need openness, transparency and honest talk about what’s happening so we can actually start solving the problems. It should all be put on the table.”
Dawe also points to a shortage of nursing home and chronic care beds, adding they haven’t increased significantly since Red Deer’s population was half of what it is today. “They say there is assisted living and supportive living which takes some of the pressures off. Yes, but there are still people who need nursing home care and auxiliary hospital level care.”
The erosion of public nursing home care availability is a huge concern, he said.
Accountability by election should be intrinsic to running services that rely on public funding.
“If you’re spending that much public money, than you should be directly accountable to the people. That applies in a lot of areas. If you are spending large amounts of public money, then you should be directly accountable to the people you are serving.”
Spending has to be brought under control as well.
“Part of that comes from setting priorities, so we make sure the money is spent efficiently where it does the most good. We make sure it’s something that is truly needed.”
He also emphasizes the role of education in a prosperous society, and that in Alberta, the opportunities aren’t there as they should be because of issues like space and cost.
Dawe has extensive experience in the local community on many levels, having been archivist with the City of Red Deer for many years. He is currently a councillor for the Summer Village of Norglenwold and a trustee for the Sylvan Lake Library board.
In 1994, he was named Alberta Citizen of the Year by the Council on School Administration for his historical work with local schools, and in 1996, he became the inaugural recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award at Red Deer College.
In 2006, he was made an honourary life member of the Archives Society of Alberta.
In 2009, he received the Minister of Veterans’ Affairs commendation for his work with veterans, and his work in preserving the military history of Alberta.
“I’ve been in this community all my life. It’s my home, and I would like to make it a better place.”