The Wetaskiwin Pipestone Flyer contacted all candidates running for the Maskwacis Wetaskiwin constituency, asking them the same questions. Their responses will be published as soon as they are received.
Incumbent Bruce Hinkley, NDP
Please tell the readers a bit about your background, including family such as spouse and children and occupation
I’ve been married to my wife Janet for 28 years, and together we have two sons and five grandchildren. Before entering politics, I spent my time working as a teacher and a principal. I was also the executive director of Big Brothers and Big Sisters in Wetaskiwin. I have been proud to represent the constituents of this area for the last four years in the Alberta Legislature, fighting for what matters to them. Today, I am running for re-election and also own a sporting goods store.
What do you feel is the key issue in this provincial election?
We know many Albertans are focused on the economy and job creation, which is one of our top priorities . We remain committed to getting a pipeline to tidewater and have been fighting for it since day one. A pipeline to the coast means a better price for our product, more markets, and more jobs for Albertans, and we won’t stop fighting until we see the pipeline built. Rachel Notley has taken immediate steps like banning BC wine and standing up to Ottawa on Bill C-69 which is a flawed effort to regulate the industry. She has acted strongly in the short and medium term, temporarily limiting oil production when our oil prices were at crisis level, and leasing rail cars to get more oil moving before more pipelines come online.
At the same time, we know we need to diversify the economy to get off the boom-and-bust roller coaster. Just recently, Rachel Notley announced that if re-elected she would double Alberta’s petrochemical diversification plan and unlock $75 billion in global value-added petroleum investment, create 70,000 jobs, and significantly increase the volume of oil and gas upgraded and refined in Alberta before export by 2030.
Why did you want to run in this election?
As a former education and principal, I want to make sure all students are receiving a quality education, because they deserve nothing less. The NDP has committed to funding every new student, which is 15,000 across Alberta this year. That means we will fund 1,000 new teachers and support staff to ensure students have the proper resources they need to learn . Since elected, we have built and modernized 244 schools in every corner of the province, hired 4,000 new teachers and support staff, reduced school fees to save parents $60 million per year, and introduced Alberta’s first school nutrition program to ensure 30,000 kids have a daily healthy meal. We have also passed a new law that ensures every student at every school can form a Gay-Straight alliance without fear of being outed. Students are the future of Alberta, and we must ensure they learning in good schools.
How well do you think Alberta’s economy has been handled over the past four years?
The reality is we got elected just as the price of oil dropped, but despite these tough economic times were faced with – we have and continue to protect and improve health care, education, support new jobs, and diversify our economy. Our economy is moving out of the recession and we have added close to 100,000 jobs since the depths of the recession. We are adding more jobs in industries such as high tech, food processing, and our energy industries. Private companies are now investing billions of dollars in new upgrading and petrochemical plants that mean thousands of new jobs. The deficit is down by $1.9 billion from Budget 2018 and we remain on our path to balance for 2023. Alberta continues to have the lowest debt to GDP ratio in Canada and the lowest taxes by far.
If elected as MLA, what is your first goal?
I believe we’ve made incredible progress in our time as government, but our work is not done yet. We not only have to continue to invest and protect public health care, but also continue to create good paying jobs by investing in critical infrastructure projects. These are projects the previous conservative government continuously failed to invest in, and ignored for decades. Things like schools, hospitals, and roads. Our investment in these projects means the creation of thousands of jobs. Jobs for teachers, health care professionals, construction workers, trades and other public services. At the same time, the NDP maintains a strong commitment to promote our diverse agricultural offerings around the world. We need to keep investing in a growing Alberta. We know there is more work to do and we will keep fighting for the good jobs that Alberta families deserve.