Friday, April 20, 2012

Lively elections forums in Rocky and Caroline

Capacity audience at the Rocky Legion Hall
Moderator Jerry Pratt

Story and photos by Helge Nome

The provincial election
in Alberta on April 23, 2012 may turn into a watershed event, or perhaps, a cliffhanger.

The two main protagonists in the Rocky Constituency, sitting MLA Ty Lund and Joe Anglin from the Wildrose Party threw light on the issues facing the electorate as they faced off under the guidance of moderator Jerry Pratt from the Rocky and District Chamber of Commerce. The presence of Doreen Broska between the two, at the Rocky forum, may have had a moderating influence.

Coming into the debate, Ty Lund has many years of experience as an MLA for the Rocky constituency as a Progressive Conservative Party representative, having served as minister in several portfolios under Premier Ralph Klein. Doreen Broska is a long time resident of the area, having a farm background and served on the Rocky Mountain House Town Council. She has a "natural affinity" for the New Democratic Party and feels comfortable with their policies. Joe Anglin has built up a reputation for himself in recent years as a community activist opposed to legislation enacted by the Alberta government, giving unprecedented powers to the cabinet of the day, over Alberta residents.

In both forums, questions from the floor ranged across many issues with "open mic" and written questions at the Rocky forum and a rather more "tame" format adopted in Caroline with written questions only. The open microphone session did facilitate a personal attack on Anglin from an individual who questioned his credentials as an immigrant from the United States. This attack was not appreciated by the audience and, if anything, boosted Anglin's standing in the room.

Ty Lund's strategy at the forums predictably consisted in speaking to the financial stability of the province and responding to attacks from Joe Anglin, particularly in regards to the controversial legislation affecting Alberta residents' property rights. He said that he refused to vote for enacting Bill 36 into law creating the Land Stewardship Act that tends to bypass the court system and allow cabinet arbitrary powers over its electors.

All three candidates agreed on the need to upgrade raw bitumen in Alberta, rather than shipping it out of province, creating jobs elsewhere and Lund said that an upgrader and a refinery is currently being built in Alberta with bitumen being supplied by the Alberta government which is taking some of its royalties on mining in the form of raw product.

Doreen Broska felt that there are reason for concerns over doctors being intimidated in the health care system as she has sensed an unwillingness by doctors to go that extra mile for their patients. Lund noted that both of the universities in Calgary and Edmonton are now sending 3rd and 4th year students to rural areas where they are exposed to local lifestyles and in Sundre one such student is now a medical doctor in the area. Anglin said that the Wildrose Party has a proposal to refund tuition fees to medical graduates that choose to practice in rural Alberta.

If audience response is an indicator of election outcome, the Rocky constituency will likely be a cliff hanger with both main candidates having high public profiles in Alberta. But then it also used to be an "anchor ground" for the Social Credit government that ruled Alberta from the depths of the Great Depression in 1935 to the prosperity of 1971.

For action photos of proceedings, go to Alberta West Photos here

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