Three of the four leadership candidates for the provincial Progressive Conservative party attended the local annual general meeting for the Olds-Didsbury-Three Hills riding on Thursday at the Olds Royal Canadian Legion.
Doug Horner, Doug Griffiths and Alison Redford all attended the meeting while Ted Morton, who also planned to come, sent his regrets.
The candidates gave the large audience brief speeches about why they believe they should be the next leader of the party.
Horner said while the party has taken some hits over its handling of various issues over the last while as the government, he said party energies should be re-directed toward talking about party tenets and not get caught up in what critics have to say.
“I want to re-unite the party around the principles we hold dear. It's time we start talking about the (principles) of our party,” he said.
Horner invoked former premier Peter Lougheed as a staunch party stalwart who always used principles to guide the party.
“We need to be leaders on the world stage. We have boundless opportunity in our oil and gas sector,” he said.
Horner said compassion and hard work built the province and said the resources Alberta has are exactly what is in demand, especially in agriculture and energy.
“We're blessed with what the world will want,” he said.
Horner said while human, natural and financial assets should be protected, others will judge the government on how it treats seniors and newcomers.
He said the role of government is to support good ideas.
“My vision for this province is to unleash the (power) of this province,” he said.
Rival Doug Griffiths said communities need to be supported, so they remain strong.
“The need for firing up our communities … is paramount. What we need is strong communities,” he said.
Griffiths said he wanted to talk about the future, not about the past. He said he sees five priority areas for the province: education, environment, transforming government, health care and re-invigorating the party. He said capturing the imagination of younger voters was a key part of his focus.
“Our future is bright and we're going to do great things,” he said.
Alison Redford said it's important for party members to remember that they are electing a leader for the next few years.
“It's a time that matters an awful lot to Alberta and a time that matters to party members,” she said, noting that because of the PCs much has been accomplished in the province, including the establishment of the universities.
Redford said the party needs to articulate a vision of health care and other issues that reflect people's priorities.
“We know what issues Albertans care about … and that's what we have to talk about as a government,” she said.
Government must be more responsive to the estimated one million new people that have come to Alberta over the last 10 years, Redford said.
“Our job as a party is to listen to the people … and then present those (ideas) to government,” she said.
Investing in research will be a key priority, as will be supporting the innovative entrepreneurs across the province who are developing ideas in both conventional and alternative energy.
Redford said she would also like to rely on home-grown labour to fill the gaps in the labour market and not have to rely on people that come to the province temporarily.
Redford said she is excited to be talking about her vision for the province in the run-up to the leadership vote.
“I think we're going to have an awful lot of opportunities to have conversations (in the future),” she said.