PC, Liberal candidates question Wildrose's numbers

Highwood: Full house at candidates forum

By: Bruce Campbell

  |  Posted: Wednesday, Apr 18, 2012 08:03 am

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Opponents of the Wildrose Party leader questioned how the party’s financial figures are going to add up during a forum in High River Tuesday night.

“The Wildrose is going to be cutting $2-billion off the budget and not once have they been able to say where those cuts are coming from,” said Progressive Conservative candidate John Barlow. “(They are going to give) $2-billion to the heritage trust fund, $300 a year in Dani-bucks or whatever you call them… These are great ideas, but just tell me once how you are going to pay for it and where these cuts are going to come from?”

They were approximately 450 people in a packed Heritage Inn Hall at the forum on Monday,

Liberal candidate Keegan Gibson also shared Barlow’s concerns.

“Reading the Wildrose platform I see tax cuts, I see savings, I see they are going to strengthen health care and education,” said Highwood Liberal candidate Keegan Gibson. “How are you going to balance the budget and keep all these promises? I just don’t see how they are going to add up.”

Smith said the Wildrose numbers do add up and added their campaign promises will be smaller than what the PCs and Liberals have promised.

“Our platform is the lowest cost platform of any of the political parties,” Smith said. “Our promises come to just over $300 million.”

She said she is disappointed she hasn’t heard from the PCs where its $3.2 billion in promises are going to come from, adding she hopes they will tell voters during this final week of the election.

The candidates were asked what their priorities were in the Highwood.

Barlow said his top priority is establishing long-term care in the Highwood.

“We need a senior long-term care facility,” Barlow said. “We (PCs) have committed to a 1,000 long-term care beds and rooms over the next four years. I am hoping one of those top priorities will be here in Highwood…

“Our long-term care facilities in the second-floor of the High River Hospital have been there since it was built. No one wants to live in a hospital.”

He said by moving long-term care patients from the hospital it would open up space for other types of care at the facility.

He also hopes to work with both the Foothills School Division and Christ the Redeemer Catholic Schools in bringing post-secondary satellite schools to the foothills.

Smith said bringing a commuter rail to the Highwood would be one of their highest priorities.

However, she said the party’s funding plan for municipalities will allow them to set their own priorities.

“That is the only way to ensure that every community can get their critical needs met is by empowering them with the dollars they need,” Smith said.

When she said Calgary Mayor Nenshi supported the Wildrose funding proposal it was met with several jeers from the PC supporters.

“However, I think the most important issue that we are going to address is how does our region fit into the Calgary Regional partnership and the Calgary Metropolitan plan,” Smith said. “If we can have a partnership that every single partner feels like they are an equal, that their autonomy isn’t being affected — especially the MD of Foothills — that would be very good from a regional planning point of view.”

Barlow, who has been to several political forums from municipal, provincial and federal elections in his 18 years as a journalist in the area, was overwhelmed by the amount of people at the forum.

The packed crowd also surprised long-time High River resident Marion McKeage.

“This is like trying to see Garth Brooks,” she said.

The forum is the last one among the Highwood candidates before Albertans go to the polls on April 23.


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