The large brown campaign bus, decked out with ‘Jim Prentice’ signs, was strategically parked at the entrance of the Montgomery Glen Golf Course in Wetaskiwin on Friday, July 31st. This is one of many stops the bus will make throughout the province as Prentice strives to convince residents of Alberta he is the best choice to lead the PC party come September 6th. 2014.
Three leadership candidates are vying for the position of leader of the PC Party and Premier of the Province of Alberta; Jim Prentice, Calgary MLA Ric McIver and Edmonton MLA Thomas Lukaszuk.
Hon. Verlyn Olson thanked the audience for attending the session, “…on such a nice day. Thinking about what it means for you to take part in this process. You are people who care about your community, care about your province. I appreciate you taking part in the democratic process. This is about the next Premier come September.”
Olson then declared he is supporting Jim Prentice in the leadership race. “I think you will learn shortly why I am supporting Jim Prentice. He has the qualities I am looking for in a leader. It’s important to have someone as a leader who understands the challenges and opportunities that exist in rural Alberta. He’s a proven leader at the Federal level, highly respected, and that’s important as we have to get along with the Federal Government as we have overlapping interests, common interests. So to me Jim is the complete package.”
Mr. Prentice began his presentation by suggesting his background and experience makes him the best choice to become the next Premier of Alberta. He pointed out to the rural Wetaskiwin audience that he is the son of Grande Cache coal miner. But he’s also been a lawyer in Calgary until being elected to the House of Commons as the Member of Parliament for Calgary North Centre in 2004 and re-elected in 2006 and 2008. From 2006 to 2010, he served as one of the most senior Ministers in the Canadian Government. He chaired the Operations Committee of Cabinet and served variously as the Minister of Industry, the Minister of the Environment and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
In 2011, Mr. Prentice left active politics and returned to private life by accepting the position of Vice-President and Vice-Senior Executive Chairman with CIBC. He is currently on an unpaid leave of absence to engage in the leadership campaign.
Prentice stood in front of an audience of approximately 60 people, most of whom were party loyal PCers and declared, “When it comes to building schools, senior care facilities, roads, bridges and mass transit, if it’s necessary to borrow, under my leadership, this government will do so.”
The infrastructure shortage is a big issue in the province. We are going through extraordinary growth in this province right now, and you need the basic facilities for your citizens. As recently as the early 1980s, Alberta’s population hovered around the two million mark. It’s now at 4.2 million, with another two million-plus expected to move here by 2041. Every 100,000 newcomers bring 15,000 school-age students, along with the need for 28 new schools.”
He did however, point out that the province should borrow a reasonable amount of money in the next five years to make up for the $15 billion to $25 billion infrastructure deficit, but pay it off as quickly as you can in the next 15 years.
With a strong business background and impressive experience with the Federal government, Prentice presents himself as a leader who is determined to make the decisions necessary to turn the PC party and the province of Alberta around. At the same time he suggests he does not have all the answers but will be leading by example. “During my entire time in the Federal government I did not have a government credit card,” suggesting the right to entitlement by government officials and staff will be over. He is eager to work with others to accomplish goals, while at the same time, willing to deal with government officials and employees that do not adhere to the proposed changes.