Battle River-Crowfoot federal candidates square off in forum

Voters head to the polls on Sept. 20

Canada votes.

Battle River-Crowfoot federal candidates detailed aspects of their platforms during a forum on Monday that was live-streamed via the Stettler Library’s Facebook page.

Topics ranged from health care, the climate, and housing affordability to government accountability and debt management.

Damien Kurek, running for the Conservative Party of Canada, said people are desperate for national leadership, and that the country is essentially divided.

“We (also) have a stagnant economy. Oil and gas has been forgotten – pushed to the bottom. Agriculture is ignored. Many people have lost their jobs, and the current government doesn’t spend too much time monitoring fiscal activity,” he said.

“At a time when our region, our province and our country faces such challenges, we can be hopeful again. We can move our country in the right direction again,” he said, adding that the Conservatives would recover lost jobs due to the pandemic, and they would also restore a sense of accountability to government.

The Conservatives also offer an emphasis on bolstering resources for mental health and balancing the budget over the next decade, he said.

Jeff Golka, who is representing the Maverick Party for Battle River-Crowfoot, said that what’s missing in the political talk is an emphasis on the Alberta Advantage. “The Maverick Party represents a new direction for Alberta,” he said, adding that his party emphasizes a framework to help the province’s energy sector to flourish.

“It’s a party that stands for our rights and freedoms without apology or exceptions. It’s about sending a message to Ottawa that we are not second-class citizens in our own country.”

Golka also pointed out that Alberta isn’t getting close to a fair share of funding compared to some other provinces thanks to a faulty equalization formula. “It hasn’t worked for generations and it’s time to change it,” he said, adding there is simply too much interference from Ottawa in Alberta’s economy.

“It’s time for fairness in the confederation and constitutional changes – soon,” he said. “I’m very concerned for the future,” he said, adding that vaccine passports are intrusive and divisive as well. “As an MP, I will fight for your freedoms.”

John Irwin of the Veterans Coalition Party of Canada said it’s about bringing blue collar common sense and a can-do attitude back to government.

He’s also concerned about over-taxing on pensions, and a lack of appropriate funding for those on pensions overall – particularly senior citizens.

“Canada’s old age security plan would be modernized to reflect the current cost of living,” he said of his party’s perspective.

The party is also in favour of reducing MPs’ overall pay.

“That’s the thing – moving forward together,” he said, adding that his party truly respects the Truth and Reconciliation process as well. “Embracing and enjoying each other’s history, understanding each other’s culture with respect, dignity and pride.”

He also wants to abolish the carbon tax which he said is basically a cash-grab. He also said that constituents always come first.

Daniel Brisbin, who is running for the Green Party of Canada, said that people – especially younger people – are ready for a change.

He’s concerned about wages, affordability and election reform so that Canadians are more fairly represented.

“One of our six pillars is also called participatory democracy,” he said. “This is exactly what it sounds like – listening to the people of the riding and doing what they say. As much as I have big dreams and ideas, I also understand that (residents of the region) have great ideas too, and I’ve heard a lot of them – things I had never even thought about before.

“We’ve got to change something, and let’s start with this riding.”

NDP candidate Tonya Ratushniak said it’s frightening to see the disparity between the haves and the have-nots. “And it seems to be growing all of the time.

“Childcare is also so incredibly important to actually get our economy moving and to lift people out of poverty and to allow for better education and for better jobs. The smartest investment we can make in the future is in our children.”

She added that some of her key priorities are affordable housing, funding for mental health, security for seniors, universal medical care and more supports for the vulnerable.

Dennis Trepanier, who is running for the People’s Party of Canada (PPC), said he wants to emphasize the priorities of family, business and prosperity. “The government is (supposed) to remove barriers so that you can prosper and run your businesses – and so that you can be free and happy in this dominion that we call Canada,” he said, adding that his party would promptly deal with equalization issues and stop the bleeding from Alberta.

“We would repeal the carbon tax, lower your income tax and lower your business tax,” he said, adding that the party would also eliminate corporate subsidies and encourage research and development.

He added that freedom is a top priority.

“The other freedom that I have, and I mentioned it earlier, is that I have the freedom to represent Battle-River Crowfoot as far as my conscience goes and as far as my principles go, and I will do that.”