Alberta Party leader looks to convince Highwood voters
Politics: Greg Clark touts party's values
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Aug 06, 2014 01:33 pm
The foothills area is traditionally conservative territory, but that isn’t stopping the leader of the Alberta party from trying to attract voters in the Highwood constituency.
Alberta Party leader Greg Clark said Alberta politics has historically been dominated by an adversarial fight between parties and ideas. This needs to change, he said.
“Our perspective is politics in Alberta has become disconnected from where we are as a community,” said Clark. “I think if we look at the way people from all over Highwood, from Okotoks, High River and further away from that, came out and pitched in and helped their neighbours last year and continue to do that, that’s who we are as a community.”
Clark was in High River on July 31 to meet residents and see progress on flood recovery, as well as introducing himself and the party to people in the area.
He said the party is in the process of creating a Highwood constituency in advance of the 2016 provincial election.
Prior to being party leader, Clark worked in business and was a partner in a consulting firm. He sold his share in the company to lead the party full time.
The party has been around since the late 1990s, and has taken a progressive, centrist position in recent years.
The party gained its first MLA in 2011 when former Liberal MLA Dave Taylor joined the Alberta Party. However, he did not seek re-election and the party doesn’t currently have any seats in the legislature.
The party ran 38 candidates in the 2012 provincial election and received 1.3 per cent of the popular vote.
Clark said the Alberta Party hopes to have local candidates in all 87 constituencies in the next provincial election. He said anyone looking to run for the party must live in the constituency and he committed to never fielding a parachute candidate — someone one who lives in one constituency area outside who runs in a different constituency instead of a local candidate.
“I find it really disingenuous to see people from downtown Edmonton or downtown Calgary dropped into a community just to have a name on the ballot,” he said.
Clark touted the Alberta Party’s six “core values” – prosperity, fiscal responsibility, social responsibility, environmental sustainability, democracy and quality of life.
“Each of those are equally important and I think those are values that resonate with Albertans,” he said. “All of our policies fit in with those values.”
Clark said the province needs better management of its finances to be efficient, while also looking after those who need a little help.
“We have an obligation to look out for our neighbours, that’s the role of government to look after things that we as individuals can’t do,” he said.
Clark said the party would balance the provincial budget and save more energy resource revenues for the future.
“We need to pay as we go, Alberta relies too much on resource revenue to fund day-to-day operations,” he said.
The party supports eliminating the current 10 per cent flat tax and would bring back a progressive tax structure, based on income.
“Alberta can still be the lowest taxed jurisdiction in Canada by far, but people who make a lot more money than others should pay more in income tax,” said Clark. “I think that’s only fair.”
Changing the provincial tax regime can also help stabilize the province’s revenues, said Clark.
That said, Clark added he wants to be clear that he doesn’t support a provincial sales tax.
According to Clark, rural communities are vital parts of the province and it’s important to help them be successful. He suggested a number of steps to do this, such as ensuring they have access to high-speed Internet and quality health care.
Clark said municipalities need to have autonomy to make their own decisions.
“What I see a lot of from our government and municipal affairs is a lot of top down control, people telling you how things are,” he said.
Ultimately, Clark said Alberta is seeing a generational shift away in politics.
“I think we’re seeing the old traditional parties crumble and fade away, and I put both the PCs and the Liberals in that category,” he said. “And, I think you’re seeing new parties rise up in their place. I think you’re seeing new parties that think a little differently about politics.