Incumbent Conservative Member of Parliament Blaine Calkins is seeking re-election this month.
Calkins is seeking re-election in the new federal riding of Red Deer-Lacombe, which covers a large area including north Red Deer, Blackfalds, Lacombe, Eckville and Ponoka.
Calkins, who has served as MP for the past nine years in the riding of Wetaskiwin, said he is encouraged by the positive support he has received so far on the campaign trail.
“I’m really impressed with how many young people are getting involved and understanding what the stakes are in this election as far as our economy and as far as our whole country is concerned,” he said.
Calkins said he’s been out to many doorsteps in north Red Deer and has visited all the communities within the riding to meet with voters and hear their concerns.
“It’s a long campaign but the pace is a little bit more tempered, so I get to spend more time which is actually better,” he said. “It’s been a much better campaign from that perspective.”
Calkins said one of the main issues he is hearing at the door is the economy, particularly from those who work in the energy sector and the oil patch.
“We’ve got one hit already with the low oil prices and of course, there’s been some compounding issues from tax hikes at the provincial level that have made it even worse,” he said. “A lot of people are worried about being able to get back to work and being able to feed their families. That’s the focus that we’ve (the Conservatives) had all along. By keeping taxes low at both the corporate and business levels, taxes for individuals and families and even dropping the GST, people have had more resources to look after themselves with, to grow our economy and to grow their businesses.”
He said Prime Minister Stephen Harper has policies already in place and he is doing a great job in responding to those big economic questions. “We’ve (Canada) got the wealthiest middle class in the world, the best net growth record in the G7 since the recession, the best debt to GDP ratio in the G7, the OECD has us on target for the best economic growth, we had a balanced budget last year and we are already poised for a surplus,” he said of Canada’s current economic standing.
“We did have a little dip in growth, but when you compare Canada to what every other country is doing, we are fairing a lot better. That doesn’t mean that everything is great and rosy for everybody, but we sure are fairing a lot better. When you get those economic fundamentals right, then you are in good shape going forward.”
Calkins grew up on a farm just north of Lacombe and still calls the City his home. With an early background in agriculture, followed by a career in wildlife conservation, he also worked as a computer systems technician at Agriculture Financial Services Corporation in Lacombe and as an instructor at Red Deer College.
“In the background, I was on Lacombe town council and volunteering for the Conservative cause behind the scenes federally for a long time and then eventually, when the previous MP decided he was going to retire, I put my hat in the ring,” said Calkins.
He was first elected as MP in the former riding of Wetaskiwin in 2006 and then was re-elected in 2008 followed by the 2011 federal election.