Red Deer First says it has no ties to Wildrose
Municipal election candidates running under the Red Deer First banner are setting the record straight about the Manning Centre and Wildrose Party.
The six-member group want to quash rumours that they are backed by the Wildrose Party and trained by the Manning Centre, a Calgary think-tank that mentors conservative politicians.
“Never happened,” said Red Deer First candidate Darren Young.
“We were here before the Manning Centre thing in Calgary broke. Manning Centre called us and asked if we would be interested in hooking up with them. We said no thank you, that’s not what we are into doing. We’ve never had any association beyond the phone call.”
The group will officially dissolve after election night. Parties are not allowed under the Municipal Government Act.
Young said Red Deer First is a grassroots movement that is here for the community. He said the members are not professional politicians and they did not form to sweep city council, but simply to make change.
As for the Wildrose Party, the group has rented election sign frames from the political party.
Calvin Goulet-Jones, who has made it no secret that he is a member at large of the Wildrose Red Deer South board, says the group is not receiving direction from the Wildrose or any other political party.
Red Deer First launched officially in March. Since the slate — the first of its kind in a Red Deer municipal election — made its presence known, the group has been dealing with mixed response from the community.
Goulet-Jones said the rumours come from a group of people who do not have their facts straight.
“I have always said I always speak for myself,” said Goulet-Jones. “And no one here is directing me in any way.”
Goulet-Jones encourages people to talk to each member of Red Deer First before coming to any conclusions. They, as well as other candidates, have been attending the Red Deer Public Market to meet the public.
Both David Helm and Janella Spearing said the group has allowed them to pool their resources and knowledge to run a good campaign, something that they thought would have been difficult going alone. They said they would likely not have run if it weren’t for the Red Deer First support and encouragement.
Spearing said for example having five other people to lean on when the election signs are vandalized has helped.
Helm said they are simply a group of people with diverse backgrounds who came together for common goals like fiscal responsibility, transparency and accountability.
Ryan Handley, a group founder and spokesperson, was unable to run in the civic election because of his work schedule.
Handley said he is surprised at some of the response from the community. He said there is support but there are also those who try to discredit the group.
“It just surprises me that people think we’re something scary,” said Handley. “We’re just average people.”
His wife, Tanya Handley, and Bob Bevins are the other Red Deer First candidates.
Handley said regardless of what happens on election night, the group has made a huge difference.
“It’s got people talking,” he said. “There’s lots of people talking. At the end of the day if that’s the only thing we have accomplished, you can call that a success.”