Original Published on Aug 11, 2022 at 10:25
By Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Two UCP leader hopefuls shared the stage on Friday evening at the Holiday Inn in Grande Prairie.
Todd Loewen and Danielle Smith held a joint rally while both running independently for the UCP leadership.
Loewen says the two candidates are similar in that “they both want to see change and do more change than keep the status quo of people happy.”
Health care, Alberta’s relationship with Ottawa, and inflation were among the issues discussed at the rally.
Smith says the freedom convoy supporters and those of the vaccine choice movement have been mischaracterized. She also shared her mistrust of Alberta Health Services.
“I simply don’t trust a single word AHS tells me anymore,” said Smith.
“After visiting here and seeing how much unused capacity there is in all of the facilities that we have built, and they’re telling us that there isn’t a single thing that they could do about it.”
Loewen also shared his distrust of AHS.
He says among the people he has spoken to, the issues at AHS do not come from front-line staff but delays, costs, and bureaucracy. He also noted his similar frustrations with the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA).
“We need to blow up AHS,” said Loewen to a cheering crowd. He later clarified that he wants to renovate the AHS structure from the “ground up” to better serve Albertans.
Smith says the solution to bring doctors to the north is fixed by allowing doctors to have private practices with access to the hospitals.
She said the founders of the province and country ensured there were powers entrusted to the provincial government; she believes the province should put the federal government on notice.
Smith said she believes that Ottawa has had too much involvement with provincial affairs, and it is time for the province to stand up to them.
Loewen wants to create an Alberta Constitution to “stand up to the feds” as well as an Alberta pension plan.
His proposed constitution would have property rights, he says, “which our federal Constitution doesn’t have and that will protect us from a lot of things.”
Loewen says the new constitution will communicate the province’s intent to federal leaders.
“One thing it will do is send a message to Ottawa, and we will have a basis to go on for all of our meetings with Ottawa.”
Loewen said it’s important the province “needs to simply say no to the federal government.
“We can start on this road that sends that message to Ottawa starts cutting the cord between us in Ottawa so that they know that we’re serious, that puts us in a position of strength instead of weakness,” said Loewen.
Smith said she believes Alberta will be the second biggest economy in the country in the next few years and that our population will double by 2050.
“We are clearly going to have to renegotiate the terms under which we deal with the rest of Canada,” said Smith. “We have to stop being a junior player (and) we have to start acting like a senior partner.”
The Friday night event saw approximately 300 people in attendance, said organizers.
The UCP membership will vote for their next leader and Alberta’s next premier on Oct. 6.
Beaverlodge local Travis Toews is also in the running for the UCP leadership, along with Leela Aheer, Jon Horsman, Brian Jean, Bill Rock, Rajan Sawhney, Rebecca Schulz, and Raj Sherman.