Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean visits Pincher Creek

Livingstone - Macleod MLA Pat Stier and Wildrose Leader Brian Jean
Chris Davis - Wildrose leader Brian Jean spoke to a small crowd of 20 or so people in Pincher Creek on July 5, at the conclusion of a tour through Livingstone-Macleod to promote conservative unity and to boost his brand as potential leader of the United Conservative Party of Alberta. He took a few swipes at Alberta's NDP government along the way. Other stops earlier in the day included Nanton, Claresholm, and Fort Macleod.

MLA Pat Stier introduces Brian Jean

Introduced by Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier, Jean got straight to it with an audience mostly composed of die-hard Wildrose believers. Alberta's the best place in the world," he said before discussing briefly his Fort McMurray background, adding "Truly our best days are in front of us."

"I believe we can take this province back," he said.

"It's not just about the next election," said Jean, adding that he thought the Wildrose could win the next election "but it can't just be about the next election." 

Jean said oil, natural gas, tourism, agriculture, forestry, manufacturing, geothermal and hydro project opportunities are just a few of Alberta's opportunities.

"Wildrose right now is the beating heart of the conservative movement in Alberta."

"How do we make sure one leader, one executive and one group of members controls the PC brand, the Wildrose brand, and the Conservative brand in Alberta?"

"We need a Premier and a government that will come in here, and manage our resources properly."

"It means making practical, common sense decisions, in the best interest of the people you serve."

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean

Jean explained the different foundations underpinning the Progressive Conservative and Wildrose parties. The Progressive Conservative Party of Alberta is an Unincorporated Association and "Their board of directors controls everything they do." The Wildrose Party was incorporated under the Societies Act. "It means that the members are in charge, and it takes 75% of our membership to change anything. To change any major constitutional decision, such as unity." The Wildrose needs 75% of the membership to vote and to agree on unity to proceed with it as a political party. "The PC party doesn't need to do that." Jean said the PC party will have their first referendum ever, and their goal is 50% plus 1 vote to decide on unity. He explained that if unity goes through, the plan at this time is for the newly formed party is to be ruled under the Societies Act so the individual membership has more control than in the PC's model.

Jean said he was opposed to the debt that has accumulated in the name of the province of Alberta.

"That debt means we can not fund our schools, can not fund our health care, and frankly wont be able to pay for infrastructure like roads and bridges."

"We don't need to change our education system to every new fad that teachers want to implement. We frankly need to do the opposite. We need to get back to basics in math, and writing. Making sure our kids have the education that makes them competitive with the world."

"I watched for four months as my son died in the heath care system here. And I will tell you that what I learned from that, is our system's not working."

He said Alberta ranks 28th out of 30 for health outcomes according to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) statistics, "...and we are the second most expensive." He added Saskatchewan and BC have less drastic wait times. "It's not health care spending, it's health care management."

Jean said he was a proponent of fiscal conservatism, personal freedoms, religious liberty, democracy, "...and a belief and confidence that Alberta is the best place in the world, not just to work, but to play, to live, and to raise a family."

He was very critical of the equalization program across Canada. including the unemployment insurance program. "At least we should be treated fairly, and that's what I want to see." Day care subsidies and secondary schooling costs not being dealt with equivocally nation-wide was another concern. "That's why I promise that in one year of being elected as premier, I will have a referendum that forces Ottawa to re-negotiate equalization."

Health care, education, and citizen safety are also cited as concerns for Jean. "That's why I am here today. Because I watched my son die, and I don't want that to happen to any of you. It truly is a situation where it could, and you shouldn't let it happen to you."

"It's not just equalization we have to re-negotiate, there is no question we have to do that. We also have to look for opportunities for Alberta to be treated the same as other provinces."

Speaking of a recent trip to New York and Washington, Jean said many of the potential investors and investment firms with a worldwide impact are very leery of the current NDP government in Alberta. "They looked at me and said, 'Change your government.' They knew our Premier by name, and called them socialists."

Jean is not a fan of Canadian Liberal Prime Minister Justin Trudeau "Personally, I believe that there's nobody more unqualified for that job than him in Ottawa, right now."

At the end of his speech Jean told the audience that Wildrose memberships had to be purchased by the end of day July 8 to vote in the unity vote on July 22. A leadership vote is expected October 28 if unity is approved by both parties.

A question and answer period followed, much of which is included in the accompanying video.

In an interview after the meet and greet that followed his speech, Jean said "Right now, I am focused on Unity. I am not focused on leadership. I am just trying to get the message out there to people."

"I believe in democracy, so it's going to be up to the local constituency associations to appoint their member to represent them as the candidate in the next election, and hopefully, as the MLA."

"I think it is very important to make sure that we always have democracy at the forefront. So members are always the deciders on policy, and any constitutional changes."  He further explained, "I think the members of both parties, if they truly are conservatives, will come together and will support the single consolidated voice moving forward."

 "These parties moving forward into one united voice obviously it removes some of the competitive element where people will vote, and split their vote, between two different parties."

"I think it's true that most Albertans have clearly indicated that they are unhappy with the Progressive Conservative Party." He said he sees this as a way of moving forward with a stronger united party incorporating Wildrose ideals. "Frankly I think 44 years of any government sort of runs long and I think that people finally had enough reasons not to vote for PC's last time."

Jean said unity was different from what occurred when former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith led a total of 9 Wildrose members across the floor to the PCs in December of 2014, leaving 5 behind still carrying the Wildrose torch. "Whereas last time, it was self serving politicians that crossed the floor and did things on their own, for themselves. This time, it's a little bit different."

He thinks this change in attitude is about listening to the people is a huge change from the floor crossing. "I do think they will accept it this time, and they will be very satisfied, and very happy."

"Buy a membership and get involved in policy. Because policy is decided by our membership."

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