McIver puts rural Alberta on his agenda
Okotoks: PC leader hopeful stops in the Foothills during campaign
Wednesday, Jul 30, 2014 10:53 am
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The vote will occur on September 6 via online e-vote, by phone, or at in-person polling stations in Calgary and Edmonton. A second vote will take place on September 20th if no majority is reached the first time around.
Progressive Conservative leader hopeful Ric McIver stopped in the Foothills last week to tell area residents he will keep Alberta’s rural interests in mind as he works towards becoming the province’s next premier.
The former Calgary city councilor and provincial infrastructure minister met with politicians and residents from the MD of Foothills and Okotoks at a meet and greet at Sirocco Golf Club on July 22. McIver took questions from the crowd, many of which centered on how he planned to repair the PC’s tarnished image.
McIver said the respect of Albertan’s has to be earned and he’d like to see the MLA’s take the frontlines.
“The reasons Albertans have left the PC party is because they don’t feel listened to,” he said. “We need to push MLA’s to do the listening. The bureaucrats don’t have motivation to listen and elected officials do because they have to ask permission to keep their jobs every four years. It’s about respect and you have to let them know they’ve been listened to.”
With a less than impressive financial track record that ultimately led to the resignation of former premier Alison Redord, McIver said it’s time for the party to shape up.
“The complaints about our government have been around personal expenditures, and what people call entitlement,” McIver said. “I will take a hard line on that, I won't accept excuses. It's not that hard to do, all we have to do is remember that we don’t have any of our own money. The money belongs to people who work hard for it.”
McIver is promising to have a balanced budget in three years and said he plans to run the province’s budget the way the average Albertan runs their own household budget.
“If you bring home your pay cheque and after you’ve paid the rent, groceries and utilities, you still have money left over, you have a balanced budget,” he said. “The Canadian Taxpayer Federations says if you have a mortgage you don’t have a balanced budget and I don’t agree with that.”
But that’s not to say that McIver won’t be making big investments. As part of his rural platform, McIver has committed to putting $10 million into new towers in rural communities without broadband service as well as providing grants up to $2.5 million to municipalities under $10,000 to invest in broadband initiatives as a way of connecting the agricultural business sector to the rest of the province.
He’s also focused on improving market access for agriculture, with a particular focus on improving rail lines to the coasts.
“The cities cannot possibly survive without the rural areas and the rural areas can not possibly get the price they need for their products unless there's a place to administer it,” McIver said. “Agriculture products can’t get to the coast unless they mostly get there on a railcar so we need to keep pushing the federal government to do that and they have done a good job recently to get things moving but we can’t let up on that.”
McIver has also announced his justice policy, which includes an inmate work program, GPS monitoring of high-risk offenders and the elimination of speed-on-green cameras.
“I think it's a really good idea to encourage people to step on the brake when they come up to a red light,” he said. “I think it's very bad idea to encourage people to step on the brake when they come up to a green light. I don't think that adds to safety. If they're doing that they're looking down at their speedometer while they hit the brakes…when they should be looking ahead to see if there's a pedestrian a vehicle or a cyclist.”
McIver still has another month to connect with residents across the province and convince members that he’s the right choice before the vote on September 6. One thing that’s different this time around is the PC’s have moved away from the controversial preferential voting system that saw previous leaders like Alison Redford and Ed Stelmach win.
“I think it's healthy for our party that if we go to a second ballot, people will be voting for the leader they want instead of against the person that might win that they don't want,” McIver said. “It just seems way healthier to vote in the positive than the negative, so I like the change we made.”
While many Albertans saying Jim Prentice is the front-runner for the job, McIver isn’t counting himself out.
“It's tied,” McIver said. “Zero-zero because no one has voted yet.”