The 2019 Alberta Provincial Election season is now officially underway for the riding of Lacombe-Ponoka with the announcement of Alberta Party’s Myles Chykerda as the first official candidate.
Chykerda — a first time candidate for the Alberta Party — will likely be running against United Conservative Party incumbent Ron Orr — who has yet to be officially announced by Elections Alberta.
Chykerda has lived in Lacombe since 1994, after previously living in Stettler where he was born. He is an archaeologist by trade and is currently working on his dissertation on early state development in ancient Greece.
Chykerda was pleased to get his paper work in and hopes to be a viable voting alternative for Lacombe-Ponoka voters.
“It is not about choosing between the lesser evil of the two big parties, but rather looking for alternatives to the problems that face Alberta. That is what the Alberta Party is here for,” he said.
Chykerda also addressed the issue where Alberta Party leader Stephen Mandel’s candidacy was revoked in Edmonton — a situation which is currently before the courts and the Alberta Party hopes to be resolved soon. Chykerda said the punishment didn’t fit the crime and that a simple fine would have worked in this instance.
“Our democracy rests on the ability for smaller teams and individuals to be able to step forward even the nomination stage,” he said.
Chykerda said the riding of Lacombe-Ponoka is a remarkable part of Alberta that has both rural and urban concerns
“It has very unique challenges that our towns and counties face and I think with the current government — our rural areas have been left behind,” he said, adding carbon tax green investment by the ruling NDP party has mostly been invested in Edmonton and Calgary.
“I understand that Calgary and Edmonton need mass transit and it is wonderful to see green investment going into the Green Line in Calgary and the new low-floor line that Edmonton is building, but it is a very different situation out here in rural Alberta,” he said.
The problems in Alberta, according to Chykerda, are complex ones and he said the Alberta Party is working on complex solutions and alternatives.
“It is not just a matter of throwing more or less money at the status quo — it is about saying, ‘Let’s sit down and let’s maybe figure out how we could do it a different way’,” he said.
For Chykerda, this means trying to take ideology out of the process.
“I really liked one of the phrases Kara Levis, who was one of our leadership candidates, said — she put it as Province before politics. It is the idea that we can’t get entrenched in an ideology,” he said.
For Chykerda, this means ensuring their is resistance to a two-party system that only offers NDP or UCP solutions.
“We have to put our differences aside and debate those solutions and have arguments about them to flesh out the best,” he said.
The Alberta Party’s goal is to form government in Alberta, but Chykerda said they are prepared to be the opposition as well.
“I feel confident that we have an excellent team that listens to each other. This is not a top-down, the leader holds the pen party,” he said, adding if the party were to be the opposition, they would look to work in a bipartisan manner.
“The minute you put up walls and get angry at the other side, that blocks things from happening,” he said. “This past assembly, we have seen some excellent amendments put through or proposed by the Alberta Party caucus.”
Chykerda said that forming an Alberta Party identity without it becoming ideology can be difficult because ideas don’t typically make the front page of the big-city newspapers, but he said their intent is to continue to focus on ideas.
“All of our intentions are to remain above the mudslinging and say, ‘Here are our ideas’. We want to talk to the people in the communities,” he said, adding that being a grassroots party continues to be the main identity of the party.
“Right now, we are the only grassroots party. It is in our constitution and it hasn’t changed,” he said.
Through talking to constituents, Chykerda has routinely heard that Lacombe-Ponoka is concerned about healthcare, education and the economy.
“I get a little angry when people tell me, ‘If you care about healthcare, you have to be an NDP member. You have to put more money into the system’. We have increased spending by billions of dollars and we are not seeing results — particular in areas like Lacombe-Ponoka,” he said.
“Even when they announced money for EMS service — most of that went to the big cities and we are still faced with the situation where ambulances in Red Deer are tied up shuttling to Edmonton and Calgary meaning our ambulances in Lacombe get sent to Red Deer.”
The economy continues to be an issue, by Chykerda is hopeful after hearing from an Alberta labour representative that the ridings unemployment rate is below the provincial average at 4.4 per cent.
Education, however, has been brought up a lot to Chykerda with many people in Lacombe in particular being concerned with how Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) legislation was rolled out in the riding.
“We have great public and Catholic schools; and we also have a strong Christian school community that has generally worked well together and exists very harmoniously,” he said. “There are a lot of people in the Christian school community that are particularly concerned on how the GSA act has been used as a heavy hammer against all independent schools.
“The safety of children always comes first, but it is fine balance between kids’ rights, parents’ rights and the roles and responsibility of the teacher. That seems to have got out of whack.”
Chykerda said he will continue to engage with the community until the election, which has yet to be called by the NDP.
“I want to talk to people regardless of their political leanings. As an MLA, you represent people regardless of their political leanings. I want people to feel safe coming to me as an MLA to debate an issue. We need to have a cross-spectrum conversation,” he said.
For more information you can go to chykerda.ca.
The Lacombe Express will be interviewing candidates for the provincial riding of Lacombe-Ponoka until the time of the 2019 Alberta Election.