The chat at A&W was a little more intense than usual on Friday, Aug. 7 when Drumheller-Stettler MLA Rick Strankman was joined by Alberta Wildrose leader Brian Jean, the head of the official opposition.
According to Jean, who is currently touring various constituencies in central Alberta, coffee meetings with residents are important because it’s the people who live in the province who have “hired” him.
“We want to hear about your concerns, what’s working or not working for you,” he said, indicating that unless the party gets out and about to chat with residents, there can be a disconnect.
That disconnect can be disastrous, as the Progressive Conservative party learned earlier this year, when it’s nearly 44-year-long dynasty was toppled by the NDP.
“Albertans are willing to give (Rachel) Notley a chance,” Jean said of the new premier. “At a certain point, though, they’re going to start looking for results.”
He said the fact the province won’t likely be able to pass a budget until the end of October or early November is a strike against Notley’s crew, people who are largely made of inexperienced MLAs.
“You can see the inexperience,” he said. “They’re all trying to learn.”
However, Jean’s willing to give the NDP credit for the efforts they’ve made, saying that while he’s disappointed by the budget issue, he doesn’t think it’s malicious or sneaky, just inexperience.
He was also willing to admit that had the tables been turned, he would also be in a new job.
While the Wildrose are willing to work with the NDP for the betterment of Albertans, Jean said they party will also be working hard to hold the ruling government accountable. So while that means forgiving newbie sins, serious problems will be in the Wildrose spotlight.
As to the federal election, Jean said he didn’t want to make predictions.
“I’ve heard people in this province talk about voting NDP,” he said. “I don’t understand that. You just have to look at the provinces where the NDP ruled to see what happens under NDP leadership.”
While he used Ontario and Bob Rae as an example, he was willing to concede that Rae inherited a tough political situation from the outgoing Liberals, and reacted too late to solve the troubles without causing a lot of pain. In Rae’s case, the NDP was powered by public rejection of the previous party, and voted in several new, rookie MPPs, the Ontario-equivalent of MLAs.
“And that’s what can happen to Alberta, if we’re not careful,” he said.