Political candidates preparing for forum showdown

Local candidates are gearing up to square off over the issues at the political forum set for April 18 in Red Deer.

Things get underway at 7 p.m. at the Chalet in Westerner Park.

Candidates will have an opportunity to address the public and discuss their platforms and the public will have an opportunity to pose questions.

Voters head to the polls May 2.

Mason Sisson, representing the Green Party of Canada, said he entered the race because he isn’t happy with what he’s been seeing in Ottawa. He also said it’s clear that a succession of minority governments aren’t working as there is a lack of cooperation among the parties overall.

“They’re playing games when they should be working to solve the problems,” he said. “We need to get true democracy back in Canadian politics, and have better representation. We just want to get the government working.”

Sisson also pointed out that he’s attracted to the Greens’ emphasis not only on responsible environmental stewardship, but how the party stresses the importance of looking beyond oil and gas as the main driver of the economic engine.

Stuart Somerville is running for the NDP for the second time, having represented the party in the 2008 election as well.

Although he is concerned about a potentially lower than usual voter turnout because of several elections over the past few years, he’s not convinced it will ultimately play a major role.

He said in his talks with voters, issues of concern have been raised over the Conservatives’ being found in contempt of parliament – which is what brought the government down last month.

“There are real concerns about the lack of democracy,” he said.

The recently released budget wasn’t satisfactory in many ways either, he said, adding that to some people, it looked like it was designed with the Tories knowing the government was going to fall.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Earl Dreeshen said his party is aiming for majority status in Ottawa, as minority government has presented obstacles in moving ahead on what needs to be accomplished. He also said he’s been hearing about concerns over justice issues in his talks with voters.

He’s hoping to re-introduce his private member’s bill (Bill C-576) that would require judges, during sentencing, to consider impersonating a peace officer to be an aggravating circumstance if it’s done for the purpose of committing another crime.

The bill was scheduled for third reading April 15, but when the election was announced it died on the table.

Dreeshen said he plans to re-introduce the bill if re-elected.

Rounding out the local slate of candidates for the May 2 vote is Andrew Lineker for the Liberal Party of Canada.

He couldn’t be reached for comment by press time.