By Erika Mathieu
Candidates of the Cardston-Siksika riding attended a public forum in Picture Butte on May 16 to discuss their party’s platforms and take questions from those in attendance.
UCP candidate and incumbent for the Cardston-Siksika riding, Joseph Schow, was joined by three other candidates, Terry Wolsey (Independence Party of Alberta), Angela Tabak (Independents for Alberta), and Par Wantenaar of the Solidarity Movement of Alberta, which was formed at the beginning of May. NDP candidate, Colleen Quintal was not able to be in attendance due to a scheduling conflict.
Topics of discussion ranged from wind farms in the region to healthcare and Alberta’s relationship to Ottawa.
The candidates began with an introduction to their platform: (please note that for the sake of brevity, responses have been limited to the first 150 words spoken by each candidate and are intended to provide an overview of the discussion).
Wantenaar: “So, why the Solidarity Movement of Alberta? My reason for being a candidate and going into this – this is my first time – is basically I feel the rights and freedoms of Albertans are under attack from the demands of the federal government and other outside forces. They are taking our freedoms and god-given rights away, the freedom of speech, the freedom of religion, the freedom of movement, that’s why we are getting all these 15 minute cities. We are for responsible gun ownership. My vision is that Albertans enjoy the fruits of their labour and truly prosper. I would like to see the oil industry flourish again and farming without interference from the government and the justice system that aligns with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I would also like to see the carbon tax totally banned and abolished.”
Wolsey: “We have elections for a real reason and that is a report card that our government gets from the people in the province as to how they’re doing and how they have done. The opportunity to hold them accountable for the job they’ve done or have failed to do. Only you, the voter, can make the change if a change is needed and hopefully you’ll be able to come to one mind as a majority and make that change. You get one chance every four years to do that and it doesn’t seem right that it should be once every four years that you go and elect somebody and four years later you can hold them accountable regardless of that they have done during those four years, under the Independence Party there will be a two term maximum for an elected official, and recall (legislation) that is effective, not just a facade.”
Tabak: “Tonight I sit here as an independent candidate with no party affiliation, having been involved in and carefully observing the party system over the past two years, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that it is at the party level where the democratic process breaks down. Over the past four years, we have witnessed numerous examples of this. Our own MLA served as Jason Kenney’s deputy whip. In a newsletter sent out in March of 2022, Danielle Smith described Mr. Schow and his position as the party whip as being instrumental in pushing Mr. Kenney’s agenda through the legislature. We have seen MLAs removed from caucus for representing their constituents and not toeing the party line (…) The list of examples of party-level corruption not only in the UCP but across the spectrum goes on and on. I have embarked on this journey of offering conservative voters in Cardston-Siksika a real choice.”
Schow: “I believe there is a lot we agree on, and I’d like to start with that. Par’s comments on carbon tax, which is the greatest single tax increase in the history of Canada, and we shouldn’t have it. That’s why the first bill we introduced as the UCP was the Carbon Tax Repeal Act. The federal government challenged that in court, but we challenged it because it was the right thing to do. People say, ‘why do you spend taxpayer’s dollar on lawyers to fight the carbon tax?’ Because it is the right thing to do, to stand up for Albertans and what is right for this province. I agree with Terry, you are here tonight because you care and want to be informed and involved. (I agree) with Angela on voting your conscience, I have never once in the last four years been asked to vote against my conscience.”
The forum ran for 90 minutes and was sponsored by the Picture Butte and District Chamber of Commerce. The provincial election will be held on May 29.