Conservative Party hopeful Peter MacKay was in Gasoline Alley Wednesday afternoon for a meet-and-greet with central Albertans. He met briefly with Linus Westberg, a Red Deer resident, at the gathering. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

Peter MacKay delivers ‘love letter’ to central Alberta

At a meet and greet in Gasoline Alley on Wednesday, Conservative party leadership hopeful Peter MacKay spoke to a room full of people about rural crime, Canadian values and Alberta’s economy.

“I know Alberta’s economy has struggled mightily, and I just want to bring you a little bit of a love letter from Atlantic Canada. I want to say thank you for the schools, and the roads, and the hospitals and the social services,” said MacKay before heading to Calgary.

“There’s no place in the country that knows hard work like Alberta, whether it’s people who work in the oilsands, drive trucks, people who want to work on the farm.”

He spoke about Alberta’s oil and gas sector and how it competes against countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Venezuela – countries that don’t necessarily share the same values as Canadians.

“We’re buying their product and bringing it into Atlantic Canada, bringing it into Quebec… how perverse is that? It’s like owning a bread store and buying bread. Why are we doing that?”

Red Deer–Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins, who hosted the stop at Glenn’s Family Restaurant, said that MacKay understands central Alberta feels neglected, and even punished by the current government. He said MacKay knows the value of Alberta to Confederation.

“The last three leaders of the Conversative party, all great people, all from the West. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a leader from a province that actually wants to receive a pipeline and have him as an advocate on our side,” Calkins said, and the crowd applauded.

Rural crime was the focus for MacKay’s conversation with central Albertans. He said it is a complex issue that involves policing, legislation and addressing social causes, such as addiction and mental health.

“It’s going to require an influx of resources, including policing. I think we will have to go back and revisit penalties attached to violent crimes… what I’ve heard today, and what I’ve heard repeatedly from victims, is the sense they’re being re-victimized within the system.

“They sense they’re not respected and they see people who’ve done horrible things to them and their families and property out on the street within 24 or 48 hours. That doesn’t instil a sense of confidence.”

Red Deer’s Linus Westberg came to hear MacKay talk, and meet with him, but he wasn’t convinced the candidate will get his vote of confidence.

Westberg said “we need that strong voice. Is he that strong voice? I don’t know,” he said, adding he is watching the leadership race closely.

“Will I vote for him as leader? Not yet,” said Westberg, who is a member of the Conservative party.

Mike Ammeter, a Sylvan Lake resident who has followed MacKay’s earlier political career, said he liked what he heard from MacKay on Wednesday and supports him so far in the race.

Ammeter stood in line to speak one on one with MacKay, and like dozens of others, to ask him his thoughts on the China-Canada canola dispute.

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Red Deer-Lacombe MP Blaine Calkins (right) hosted Conservative Party candidate Peter MacKay in Red Deer area Wednesday. The local MP is supporting MacKay in the conservative leader race. Photo by Mamta Lulla/Advocate staff

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