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Wildrose Party leader opens summer tour in central Alberta

Wildrose Alliance Party leader Danielle Smith’s decision to open her 22-day, 4,400-km summer tour in central Alberta is a sign of the area’s importance in the coming election, the party’s local candidate said.

Wildrose Alliance Party leader Danielle Smith’s decision to open her 22-day, 4,400-km summer tour in central Alberta is a sign of the area’s importance in the coming election, the party’s local candidate said.

“I think having Danielle come start her tour in Innisfail-Sylvan lake is instrumental for our riding,” Kerry Towle, the party’s Innisfail-Sylvan Lake candidate, said following Smith’s tour of the RCMP Police Dog Training Centre on July 20. “She’s put a lot of thought and care into our riding … I think that’s pure dedication.”

Smith’s day began in Red Deer with appearances at a pancake breakfast, the Westerner Days parade and a tour kick-off rally before she travelled to Innisfail, where she took in the public demonstration at the training centre. The day also included stops at Spruce View’s Medicine River Wildlife Centre, Red Deer’s Big Bend Market before concluding with a town hall meeting in Sylvan Lake.

Central Alberta importance is increasing as it continues to become “an essential economic driver” for the rest of the province, Smith said following her tour of the facility.

“It’s going to become increasingly important,” she said, saying the Red Deer area is drawing people in from Edmonton and Calgary for business meetings and conferences. “I think we’ll continue to see that grow. From what I’ve seen of the projections Red Deer is going to show no signs of slowing down. It shows every sign of becoming an increasingly important destination for business, (and for) people to live and raise their families.”

The party is quickly preparing for an election, whenever it may be called, Smith said. Candidates have already been named in Innisfail-Sylvan Lake and Lacombe-Ponoka, with an announcement expected shortly regarding their candidate in Rocky Mountain House, and another by fall in at least one of the Red Deer ridings. Smith said the party would run a candidate in all 87 provincial ridings.

Smith said the election would not be personal, noting that many MLAs have served their communities well. As the governing Progressive Conservative Party prepares to elect a new leader this fall, Smith said she believes the party’s renewal efforts will prove to be unsuccessful.

“I think overall people are going to be judging the government on its record. After 40 years in power this is a government that is just running out of steam. People see it every day. They see it in the way they behave; in the way they’re treating some of their own workers – particularly in the health field. They’re seeing it in the way they’ve stopped listening to the public,” she said. “I think the time of the PC dynasty is coming to an end.”

Wildrose will give voters a party that will listen and respond to everyday Albertans, Smith said.

“I think voters will respond to that,” she said. “I think they’re tired of a government that thinks the job of an elected MLA is to be a trained seal responding to what comes out of the premier’s office.”

The party’s platform is also being released in stages, with 11 of the party’s 15 position papers already released on the Wildrose website.

Whoever is elected to replace Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach in September must keep Stelmach’s commitment to hold an election by March 2012, Smith said, suggesting an election held later than that would be a sign the party does not have confidence to go to the voters for a new mandate.

“We don’t think that a new PC leader has any mandate to go forward until they’ve gone to the people to get that mandate,” she said. “I know they could go as far as the spring of 2013. If they do that I think they’re afraid of the voters.”

"I think (voters are) tired of a government that thinks the job of an elected MLA is to be a trained seal responding to what comes out of the premier's office."
Danielle Smith,
Wildrose Alliance Party leader