by Barry McDonald
NDP candidate, Bruce Hinkley, Wildrose candidate, Bill Rock and MLA Verlyn Olson have announced they are entering the race to represent the Wetaskiwin-Camrose constituency in the May 5th provincial election. Although Olson, the Progressive Conservative candidate, hosted an Open House in Wetaskiwin on April 10th, 2015. As of press time, neither Hinkley nor Rock had announced an event to officially launch their campaigns in the Wetaskiwin region. Election Day is May 5th, 2015, mere days away. Olson will also be hosting Campaign Open Houses in Camrose on April 11th and Millet on April 13th. There has been no announcement of a candidates forum in the region.
Olson is not taking the race lightly and gave his supporters some stern advice. “The tradition in this constituency has been kind of low key when it comes to get out to vote. We don’t like to be in people’s faces and be bothering them and that stuff. Obviously we want people to be engaged and to get out to vote.”
At Olson’s Open House, he outlined some of the issues for voters consideration. “I am honoured to be the Progressive Conservative Party candidate for Wetaskiwin-Camrose in this provincial election,” declared Olson. “I wanted to make a few comments about the election because I know many of you are hearing and thinking things and I think it’s a good opportunity for us to have a little bit of a discussion about the obvious questions.”
Olson provided his supporters with some key points which can be agreed to, disagreed with or questioned or ignored as the final days leading up to May 5th are rapidly disappearing. But they are key issues that should be considered when choosing the most effective person to represent the people of Wetaskiwin-Camrose.
Q. Why is an election being held a year before it was scheduled? It is such a waste of money.
Olson responded, “One way or another, that money would be spent within the year. There is only that one amount (money for an election), whether it gets spent now or less than a year from now is kind of immaterial. If we don’t have a general election now, we’re going to need to have some by-elections and then not even a year later, we would need to have a general election anyway.”
Q. Some people are saying it is opportunistic.
Olson’s comments. “When you have quite a number of people that are unhappy, if you were being opportunistic, it would make more sense to let things settle down before you go to the polls. Two thirds of the opposition including their leader, crossed the floor; a new Wildrose leader who doesn’t have a seat and won’t have a seat until there is an election.”
Olson continued to explain reasons for voter discontentment. “And then we have the budget that was introduced, which includes increases to some fees and so forth. When you put all those things together, I think the case can be where a Lieutenant Governor of Alberta could see fit to hit the reset button, give Albertans the opportunity to say this is who we want to be (the government) and to deal with the economy and all of the other issues that are in front of us right now.”
Regarding Jim Prentice as a Premier:
“He listens, he asks questions and then bam, he makes a decision and on you go. So there isn’t a lot of dithering and I like that about him. To have a guy like Jim Prentice who is a former MP and who is really well connected in Ottawa, because he has the ear and gives us the ear of so many decision makers in Ottawa. He got involved because he had a big concern about our economy.”
Concerning rural schools, rural school closures:
“A great question was posed. Does anybody know or has anybody studied what the economic impact is of closing the school. We talk about the cost of keeping a school open, but do we ever talk about what the cost is of closing a school. I talked to a couple of my colleagues about sharing the cost of doing a study because I think that could be really useful information for the whole province.”
The tired old Conservative Party,
“About a third of the legislature turns over every election. About a third of our caucus turns over every election, and there aren’t many in our caucus who weren’t elected in either 2008 or 2012.”
Olson offered additional comments but pointed out there are many important issues leading up to Election Day. “I could go on listing a number of issues in the constituency, but healthcare, seniors & education of course are many of the ones that we get a lot of calls on. I have been MLA for just over 7 years now. I think that’s a value of having an MLA who is part of a government that has relationships with other government people, some of the other decision makers in government. As you know, May 5 is Election Day and I need your support more than ever.”
The race is underway but lacking some of the excitement that would have been provided if all three candidates were lined up equally at the starting line to begin this important race. But as the old saying goes, every vote counts. Your vote is important to any of the three candidates so please vote on May 5th, 2015.