Pictures by Barry MacDonald
It was standing room only as Danielle Smith entered to begin her meet and greet April 15th at the Wetaskiwin Super 8.
The evening started with Wildrose MLA Gary Bikman introducing Danielle Smith as “one of the finest people I’ve ever met.” Smith gave Conservative MLA Verlyn Olson a nod as she took the podium saying, “Your MLA Verlyn Olson is one who commands respect across all political parties.” She asked that the people attending keep in mind that any concerns that were raised, were with the Conservative party not any particular representative. Since becoming the leader of the Wildrose party in 2009 Danielle Smith, has seen 3 different Premiers for the Conservative party and the number will soon become 4.
“The ingenuity, creativity and spirit of the Alberta people is not being reflected any longer in the kind of government we have,” she said. Elaborating on what would make the Wildrose government different than a Conservative one, “Balanced budgets, sensible spending and saving for the future.” Going even further she adds, “Alberta has the highest amount of per capita revenue of any province in the country, if we can’t balance the books now, when will we ever be able to?”
Citing the many financial scandals that have recently plagued the Conservative party, she points out how those funds could have been used for front line services that would actually benefit Albertans especially students, seniors and patients, instead of overly generous severance packages that you would never see in the private sector, misuse of government planes, the extravagant Sky Palace, the bloated cabinet and the cost of maintaining it, corporate welfare and the list grows every day.
Noting Albertans are growing discontent with a government that seems to be distant, unresponsive and secretive, Smith says, “When Albertans look at our party we want them to see themselves, their issues, their concerns, their ideas and their interests reflected in who we are as a party.”
Easily keeping the room engaged, Smith never faltered answering all questions without hesitation. Fielding questions ranging from the state of health care, the high price of electricity and the difficulty in finding affordable housing, her wit and candor brought laughter and applause many times during the evening.
The night was clearly a success for the Wildrose, with the growing support for the party in traditionally Conservative strong holds, it seems that Albertans may be ready for change.