Albertans head to polls Monday in four byelections

Voters in four Alberta ridings go to the polls today in what opposition politicians call a referendum on the Progressive Conservative government.

EDMONTON — Voters in four Alberta ridings go to the polls today in what opposition politicians call a referendum on the Progressive Conservative government.

Premier Jim Prentice is one of the candidates seeking a seat in the legislature in one of three byelections in Calgary. The fourth is in Edmonton-Whitemud.

Prentice called the byelections a month ago after winning the PC party leadership race to replace former premier Alison Redford.

All four ridings have been traditional Tory strongholds.

Prentice, a former Conservative MP and cabinet minister, says he wants voters to focus on the changes he has made to restore public trust following the Redford era.

Redford resigned as premier earlier this year amid revelations she used taxpayer money to fund lavish travel and office perks for her and her inner circle.

The PCs under Redford also failed to follow through on promises to avoid long-term debt, reduce hospital wait times, and build schools.

Opposition politicians are urging voters to not fall for second chances.

“It’s time to send the PCs a message,” reads one ad run by the Wildrose.

Prentice is running in Calgary-Foothills. The riding came open when Independent MLA Len Webber, a former Tory who quit the caucus to protest Redford’s leadership, resigned to run for the federal Conservatives.

Problems with health care and the Tories’ failure to build schools to cope with a growing population have been key doorstep issues.

Tory Education Minister Gordon Dirks is aiming for a win in Redford’s old riding of Calgary-Elbow.

Dirks, appointed last month by Prentice, has been accused of abusing his cabinet position to ingratiate himself with Calgary-Elbow voters.

On Friday, it was revealed Dirks ordered up two modular classrooms for a school, leapfrogging other schools deemed a higher priority.

Dirks has also been photographed turning sod for future schools that have yet to find a builder.

In Calgary-West, the opposition Wildrose party has high hopes for Sheila Taylor, a former trustee and chair of the Calgary Board of Education.

Taylor resigned her trustee seat with the board when she signed up to run.

Voters in the riding have also been upset with the lack of new schools built by the PCs. It came open when former energy minister Ken Hughes resigned to return to the private sector.

In Edmonton-Whitemud, Health Minister Stephen Mandel is seeking a seat in the longtime riding of former PC premier Dave Hancock.

Mandel has name recognition as the city’s former mayor, but has been dealing with public anger over lack of care beds for seniors, bottlenecks in emergency wards, and cancelled surgeries.

Two opposition parties put up health professionals to oppose him. Oncologist Bob Turner is the candidate for the NDP and nursing professor Donna Wilson is the candidate for the Liberals.

The byelection outcomes don’t have the potential to change the balance of power.

The Tories have 57 seats in the 87-seat legislature. The Wildrose has 17, the Liberals five and the NDP four.

A general election is mandated by law to be held in the spring of 2016.

Just Posted

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

Restaurant owner concerned about Gasoline Alley road changes

Nearly 20 trucks were lined up on the service road in front… Continue reading

Preliminary hearings set for two men charged in weapons and drugs bust

A Red Deer man and Sylvan Lake man are facing 80 charges

Eight dogs found in Innisfail hotel room were kept in cages

Eight dogs, kept in cages in a small hotel room in Innisfail… Continue reading

WATCH: Hypnotizing show at Westerner Days

Hynotist and mentalist Joshua Seth performs three times a day at Westerner Days

PHOTOS: Dogs, horses and more animals at Westerner Days

Westerner Park’s pavilions were filled with animals during Westerner Days

Red Deer residents can’t get enough mini-doughnuts

Mini-doughnuts were the biggest draw to Westerner Days according to a Red… Continue reading

Four-car crash, including RCMP vehicle, on Highway 2

Two sheriff vehicles were also involved in the collision

Divers hunt for 4 after Missouri duck boat sinks, killing 13

BRANSON, Mo. — Divers are searching Friday for four people still missing… Continue reading

WATCH: Red Deer’s noxious weeds are a goat’s dietary delight

Piper Creek Community Garden gets chemical-free weed control

‘Amazing Race Canada’ competitors face B.C. challenge

They drove Corvettes, mastered falconry basics, and ate blueberry pie in the Cowichan Valley

From hot to not? The Baloney Meter weighs in on Scheer’s economy claims

OTTAWA — “Justin Trudeau inherited a booming economy, but he’s squandering it.… Continue reading

Scathing suicide inquiry finds gaps, shortcomings at Royal Military College

OTTAWA — Members of a board of inquiry into three suicides at… Continue reading

Most Read

Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month