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Candidates square off in Legal

April 10 event well attended

Apr 17, 2012 09:51 am | Ryan Tumilty

There was a lot of agreement mixed with repeated calls for change at a candidate forum in Legal for the Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock riding Tuesday night.

Progressive Conservative candidate Maureen Kubinec joined Wildrose hopeful Link Byfield, Liberal candidate Leslie Penny, EverGreen hopeful Lisa Grant and NDP standard bearer Trudy Grebenstein at the forum, which was put on by the Legal Chamber of Commerce.

Byfield made a strong pitch for change, saying the Wildrose was a new alternative that would ensure government stays out of the way of Albertans.

“We believe government’s job is not to run your life, but to help you run your life and your community,” he said. “You do not change a whole government just by switching leaders.”

Grant said her party had been cast as a one-issue party and while stressing they care about much more, she also emphasized the importance of that issue.

“People think that all we care about this environment, but when you think about it everything is about the environment,” he said, “We want to make sure we all have a future for our children and our grandchildren.”

Penny said her party believes there is a role for government to play.

“I don’t believe in a nanny state, I don’t believe that government should do everything, but we have children in this province who are going to school hungry,” she said. “We can say what we want about their parents, but I want that child to get fed so they can learn.”

Grebenstein said her party would make sure more ordinary Albertans benefit from the province’s wealth.

“We know that with the right priorities we can make Alberta’s prosperity work for everyone,” she said.

With the repeated criticism of her party, Kubinec pointed to their record and Alberta’s prosperity.

“We did not get to be one of the best places in the world by being poorly governed for the last 40 years,” she said.

In response to a question over the proposed twinning of Highway 2, all of the candidates agreed the project should be a priority, but said it needs to be balanced against the needs of the entire province.

Penny said she would support the communities’ needs, but also cautioned a four-lane highway on Legal’s doorstep could mean businesses being pulled out of the community. She added her party respects property rights and has to be concerned about what that could mean to Albertans.

“If we twin the highway we know that we put more farmland under concrete,” she said.

In an interesting turn each candidate got to submit their own questions, which they and their fellow panelists got to answer.

Kubinec posed her question on education, asking the other candidates what they would do about to maintain the choice while ensuring there are consistent standards. She said Alberta’s educational system is excellent.

“People come from all over the world to learn the secrets of Alberta’s system,” she said.

Byfield got a laugh for his response, when he pointed out he believed the choice in Alberta’s system was excellent.

“At the risk of giving Maureen a heart attack I am going to say that her government has done a good job providing parental choice,” he said.

Grant, a homeschooler herself, said the system already had the appropriate oversights and the choice provided to parents should be protected.

“Parent should have the right to decide on the education for their child,” she said. “It is up to the parents to decide how to educate their children.”

Byfield’s question focused on property rights.

Penny said there are projects that require a government to have access to private land, but they have to be those truly in the public interest and with fair compensation for landowners.

“I do believe that there are times when the government needs access to our land when something is for the public benefit,” she said.

Grant agreed.

“There should be fair compensation and there should be a tangible reason why the government needs that land,” she said.

Grebenstein said the province needed to protect property owners as well as the environment.

Kubinec pointed to recent changes in the legislation and pointed out the Wildrose had supported those changes. She accused the Wildrose of not being up front about the issue, adding the government was protecting property rights while also planning for the future.

Election day is April 23.


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