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Why I am running to be your MLA

Brian Jean and Derek Fildebrandt campaigning in Strathmore: Credit Strathmore Standard

Brian Jean and Derek Fildebrandt campaigning in Strathmore: Credit Strathmore Standard

I am running to become the new Wildrose MLA for Strathmore-Brooks because Alberta deserves better than the government it has.

As the former Alberta Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, I traveled to nearly every corner of our great province last summer with the Alberta Debt Clock. In city after city and town after town, I met Albertans from all walks of life. I met with students, young families and grandparents. I met with successful business people and some people struggling to get by. The message I heard from them was, “In a place as wealthy as Alberta, why can’t we balance the budget? Why are we leaving our children a legacy of debt?”

When I was in Brooks with the Debt Clock, people were fired up about getting spending under control. Jason Hale took that opportunity to sign our Balanced Budget and Debt-Free Alberta Pledge. What really struck me was when a grandmother presented me with a donation to the campaign and said, “This is so that my grandkids grow up in a debt-free Alberta. Go fight to keep them honest.”

On the day that Danielle Smith and Jason Hale left to become Progressive Conservatives, I felt an incredible sense of betrayal. They were people that I had a deep respect for and in the flash of an eye, my vote and representation was taken away from me, along with the votes of 442,000 Albertans.

I also thought about that grandmother in Brooks. She lost her voice that day as well.

We all have very good reason to be cynical about politics right now, but the more I thought about what had happened, the more determined I became to do something about it. If we don’t vote, or if we vote PC, we let dirty deals like this become even more acceptable in the future.

I spoke with my wife Emma and shortly thereafter we decided that I needed to seek the Wildrose nomination in Strathmore – Brooks. Albertans need a voice for common sense, and I want to be that voice.

As the former Alberta Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, I’ve worked day and night to hold the government to account. I know the government’s finances inside-and-out, finding areas of wasteful spending to cut, and redirect spending to areas of higher priority.

Unfortunately the PCs – with most of Redford’s MLAs now backing Prentice – did not listen until it was too late. Instead, they kept spending. During the oil boom, Alberta had more revenue than any other province in Canada, but instead of controlling spending and saving some of that revenue, they did the opposite. They overspent billions of taxpayers’ dollars, wasted nearly the entire Sustainability Fund and have driven us into a debt that will soon reach $21 billion.

Now that the oil boom has come to an end, Prentice plans to raise taxes to make hard working Alberta families pay for their mistakes. That’s not right.

In Alberta, we take responsibility for our own actions. We don’t blame others, or oil.

Raising taxes on families, seniors and small businesses is just taking the easy way out.

Right now, we are paying $460,000 a day for outside “communications consultants” at Alberta Health Services. That’s $168 million a year for PR specialists that do nothing tangible for healthcare. Let’s take that $168 million and put some of it towards real health and long-term seniors care in Strathmore.

We are wasting $141 million a year on taxpayer subsidies to big businesses, and billions more in loan guarantees to big PC donors. In Alberta, businesses don’t need government handouts to succeed; they just need government to build important infrastructure and keep taxes low. The PC plan to raise taxes will hurt businesses and their employees, just when we are starting to feel the economic pinch.

The worst thing that we can do in an economic downturn is to raise taxes that will only kill jobs.

Jim Prentice might be willing to trim along the edges, but he won’t go after his friends and the patronage appointments scattered throughout the government, or lucrative contracts for his buddies.

The Wildrose believes that before we cut frontline services or raise taxes, we should cut wasteful spending; but the PC’s bread is buttered by the same folks who keep them in power and cut cheques. They aren’t going to bite the hand that feeds.

We need an MLA who can speak with force and independence, and stand up to the special interest groups who would rather families pick up the slack.

We need an MLA who can hold the government’s feet to the fire and get some accountability for the way our money is spent. We won’t get that by electing another PC here.

The Wildrose Party has a plan to balance the budget without raising taxes. We have a plan to ensure that our healthcare dollars are spent on real healthcare services and not on consultants. We have a plan to ensure that we are building important infrastructure without going even further into debt.

As a province, we are headed for challenging times. In making those tough decisions, I’m on your side.

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