The Alberta Party leadership candidates were at the Black Knight Inn in Red Deer to spread their visions for Alberta.
Calgary lawyer Kara Levis, Calgary MLA Rick Fraser and former Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel are all vying for leadership of the centrist party which is looking to make some ground in the 2019 provincial election.
Mandel said that each candidate is a solid choice for leadership of the party.
“It is not me versus them. It is us together and we are together trying to build the party as a team. Members of the Alberta Party will vote for one of us and all three of us are fine candidates,” he said.
As far as his own leadership campaign goes, Mandel said he left the former Progressive Conservative party after “The progressive part of the party disappeared. He said it would be important to him to balance the budget while still maintaining services that Albertans need.
“Being fiscally responsible is not just about cutting things. Albertans want services, good education, good post-secondary educations, health care and social programs. We have to have a balance. It is not a matter of telling everyone too bad, we are cutting everything. It is a matter of delivering good services, at a good price with an effective government,” he said.
He added it is important to him to create a diversified economy which includes a revenue-neutral carbon tax which promotes jobs in Alberta.
“I think people are concerned about jobs, job stability, long-term job stabilization, diversifying the economy and building an Albertan economy that isn’t so dependent on carbon products. That is a big part of it,” he said.
Former paramedic and MLA Fraser, who was originally elected as a PC candidate before leaving the former party, said that he is not afraid to make the tough decisions and that being elected despite the PC Party losing the election shows that he represented his constituents.
“We were able to build 15 new schools in six years as well as the 2-12 interchange,” he said. “We have been able to provide services like health care through the South Health Campus and other initiatives there. I have championed those things and now is the time to use my experience in the community and step up and lead a new generation of people who want to see politics done differently.”
He added it is important to build an economy which includes well educated, healthy people.
“It is important to have a strong economy, but the economy is not the only issue. Education and health care will always be issues,” he said.
Fraser added it is important that the Alberta economy isn’t solely focused on one resource.
“You need to be nimble and you need to make sure you are firing on all cylinders. It shouldn’t be about politics. It should be sustainable policies that go far beyond the politician into future generations,” he said.
Levis, who previously worked on the Calgarian Ask Her campaign which encouraged women to run for municipal politics, sees herself as carrying on the work that the Alberta Party has been doing.
“I don’t have a previous obvious party affiliation so my strength is in building communities and bringing people in from the former Progressive Conservative party and bring people in who may have voted NDP last time, but may not choose to again,” she said. “It is about bringing people in who may be disassociated with the political process. That is the value I bring to the race.”
Levis said it is important to keep the Alberta Party as a grassroots party.
“I think people are starting to realize they are not comfortable with the vision that the United Conservative Party is bringing and they don’t like what they see going on in Edmonton with the NDP,” she said. “That is our opportunity and we are there to be that place for people to come and share their vision for what Alberta should be.”
She added Alberta is currently facing a revenue problem regarding non-renewable resources.
“We have spent too long relying on non-renewable resource revenues and that really puts a burden on our future generations. I have three little girls and I want to see a sustainable future for Alberta and I think that means we need to look at our revenue mix and the options for bringing in a point of sale, value added tax for Alberta,” she said.
The Alberta Party will vote for their new leader on Feb.7, 2018.