The meaning of true democracy in Alberta, health care and the rights of rural property owners were hot topics that had attendees at an election forum in the Olds clapping on Wednesday night.
All four candidates for the Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills riding were present at the forum that took place in the jam-packed student alumni centre at Olds College.
Wildrose Party candidate Bruce Rowe received a round of applause after talking about how his party would bring true democracy back to the province.
“As your MLA, I can go to Edmonton and I can vote the way my constituents want me to vote. I don’t have to vote the way the party tells me to vote. I can do that in caucus. I can do that in cabinet. I can do that on the legislative floor when bills are passed. That’s true democracy and what attracted me to the Wildrose Party to begin with,” said Rowe.
Darcy Davis, the Progressive Conservative candidate, said he thinks there is a robust democratic system in this province.
The forum drew a couple hundred people, mostly seniors.
Questions included how the PCs’ proposed family care centres would mesh with existing doctor offices and clinics.
“The big reason for these centres is that about 30 per cent of Albertans don’t have a family physician,” said Davis. “This is the best way to fill that gap. . . . The other reason for them is to take pressure off emergency rooms. It’s something that as we go forward we have to listen to our local advisory councils and work on it.”
Garth Davis, the Liberal Party candidate, said he doesn’t know where the PCs think these extra doctors will come from.
“We’re already having a hard time finding doctors for rural communities,” he said. “The No. 1 challenge is how are we going to educate, train and then attract more doctors to Alberta.”
These clinics are just “another example of the Conservatives instigating things without consultation with key stakeholders,” said Rowe.
Another question asked if candidates were in favour of privatizing health care.
Both the Liberal and New Democratic Party candidates stated how they were in fierce opposition of privatized health-care clinics.
“We support fully funded, fully operated public health-care programs,” said Kristie Krezanoski, the NDP candidate. “A recent report form the Parkland Institute found private health care is more expensive. It looked at the private clinic in Calgary which has since gone bankrupt.”
Rowe said he’s not opposed to anything that will improve the system.
Property rights was also high on the agenda for forum attendees. Darcy Davis was asked why Bills 19 and 36 were still scheduled to go ahead after so much negative feedback.
“Like a lot of landowners, I too was dissatisfied with Bill 36 but then bill 10 came in and that looked after a lot of the problems with Bill 36,” said Darcy Davis. “This will give us the ability to set aside No. 1 farmland . . . as a landowner I will be extremely vigilant if that should fall off course and it isn’t what it should be.”
Clapping erupted after Garth Davis said, as an Albertan farmer, property rights are like a sacred cow to him and the Liberal policy would see to the end of those.
Rowe echoed that, saying one of the first things the Wildrose Party will do is remove those bills.
The Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills riding is without an incumbent as former PC MLA Richard Marz resigned before his term was up, announcing he would not be seeking re-election.
Other issues the candidates discussed included boosting infrastructure, freezing post-secondary tuitions and agriculture.