Now is the time for cities like Red Deer to insist on more support from the re-elected UCP government, says Red Deer & District Chamber of Commerce’s CEO about local voter turnout for the UCP.
“Rural Alberta, and second cities like Red Deer, should have a lot more say because that’s where they won their seats,” said Scott Robinson.
“They were decimated in Edmonton and they lost half of Calgary. Their support is in places like Red Deer, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Grande Prairie. That needs to be reflected in their priorities going forward so we will definitely be holding them to account.”
The UCP did a clean sweep to win all Central Alberta ridings in Monday’s provincial election.
One dominate issue for the people of Red Deer and Central Alberta during the election was moving forward on the $1.8-billion expansion of Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
“It’s very important to have these supports in the community to attract business and to support business. So we’ll definitely be holding their feet to the fire for sure on that.”
Robinson said the UCP have committed to the hospital project, but time will tell.
He said the local business community found comfort in the UCP’s economic direction. The 2023 budget was probably one of the better budgets in regards to fiscal restraint, meanwhile the NDP’s focus on no tax increases for small business only meant that the many large businesses in the region that would see higher taxes.
“The business community likes stability. They like governments that aren’t throwing money all over the place all the time. I think that was reflected in the success the UCP had in this region,” Robinson said.
Retired political science instructor David Baugh, agreed that the UCP budget and election platform provided the fiscal guardrails that would appeal to the business community. But with both ridings in Red Deer re-electing UCP incumbents, the government may take Red Deer for granted.
Oil prices will be the main factor in the Red Deer hospital project going ahead, he added.
Baugh said there is a lot of concern that Premier Danielle Smith, with her majority that includes members closely aligned with Take Back Alberta movement, will revisit her controversial ideas.
“I would take a more optimistic view. I think Premier Smith has shown skills in inclusion and uniting the party,” said the former Red Deer College instructor.
And with a smaller majority in the legislature, she will probably tread carefully, Baugh said.
“That’s what she’ll need to do to maintain her united party. I think she’s enough of a survivor, and knows what it takes to win, that she won’t do anything too destructive, but we’ll have to wait and see.”