By Emily Jaycox For the Independent
Drumheller-Stettler MLA incumbent Rick Strankman is running as an independent candidate in the April 16 provincial election.
Strankman left the United Conservative Party (UCP) on Jan. 15, 2019 citing “hyper partisan politics.”
Strankman says he believes that more individual, independent voices in the Alberta legislature would improve the democratic ability of each constituency.
“The party system is too negatively influenced,” said Strankman.
“It takes away from the local direct democracy and approval of the people.”
Strankman has six years of legislature experience.
He was first elected as a Wildrose candidate under Danielle Smith.
When some of his colleagues crossed the floor, he did not, as he felt he should stay in the party he was elected under, he says.
He became a UCP when 90 per cent of members decided to merge.
Now Strankman says he wants to “put (his) name in front of the people and let them decide.”
Before the election was called, Strankman was close to putting a private member’s bill forward to repeal the carbon tax.
In his proposed model there would still be regulations for specific gas emitters.
“The economic situation in the riding is dire,” said Strankman.
The solution is to support all forms of economic development including agricultural diversification and stabilizing oil and gas, he says.
Rural crime is also “at a crescendo.”
The police need more support, but there also needs to be harsher penalties in the courts, he says.
Strankman says the whole healthcare system needs a “forensic audit” to determine where there are inefficiencies and costs can be decreased.
He proposes upper management, including MLA’s, take a pay cut to reduce costs, as 43 per cent of the current provincial budget is allotted for healthcare.
“Bill 6 needs to be repealed,” says Strankman, adding that aspects of the occupational health and safety regulations should be kept.
Strankman says regulations on agriculture should not be “onerous, overreaching or unobtainable by the majority of farming operations.
“I would like to see this election be a referendum on equalization,” ‘he said, adding why wait for 2021 as the UCP have announced?
Private member bills can get passed, and as a private member, Strankman says, “You don’t have to be an adversary of the government if the government is doing the right thing.”
Strankman uses the metaphor of a tugboat assisting large ships into the right place in a harbour.
“There’s some needed freedom there.”