With the deadline to vote in the Wildrose leadership race now just days away, residents of the Lakeland will be able to make an informed decision at the polls after candidates Linda Osinchuk and Drew Barnes made campaign stops in Bonnyville last week.
Hot on the heels of fellow candidate Brian Jean's visit on March 7, Osinchuk was in town on Wednesday and Barnes on Friday in an attempt to strengthen their bid for party leadership.
Speaking to the Nouvelle last week, local Wildrose candidate Scott Cyr said he was delighted that each of the three leadership contenders was able to make stops in Bonnyville.
“It's absolutely great that all Wildrose members within our constituency were able to have the opportunity to be able to meet our candidates,” Cyr said. “I think it's of the utmost importance that members are able to cast their vote in absolute confidence having been informed of each candidates platform.”
Stopping by the Seniors Drop-In Centre on Wednesday night, Osinchuk, who has a strong background in municipal politics stemming from her time as Mayor of Strathcona County, told locals it was time for the Wildrose to have a leader it can be proud of, while also discussing hot-button provincial issues such as the Alberta health care system and tax-dollar investment.
“Linda brings a very unique platform to the table – she's a very social person with a very strong background in municipal politics,” Cyr said. “She brings with her (a lot of good ideas) that could really help the Wildrose party.”
In town on Friday, Barnes told a group of roughly 20 residents that he was the right man to lead the Wildrose party into “the dawn of a new era.”
“A voice for accountability, a champion for grassroots, a leader we can trust – those are the key values of my leadership campaign,” Barnes told the Nouvelle following the hour-long meet and greet session. “In business and in life, things get done when you look people in the eye, listen to their concerns and then have the ability and understand to act and lead, I very much intend on following through with each of those statements.”
Having spent the past three years in the legislature representing the Cypruss – Medicine Hat constituency, Barnes believes he has the knowledge and experience necessary to move the Wildrose party forward into the future.
“First and foremost, I am a man who understands and 100 per cent buys into the core values of the Wildrose party,” Barnes said. “When the call came in mid-December to cross the floor, I absolutely refused to entertain it. Instead I backed the policies, platforms and members of the Wildrose party. I am somebody Wildrose members can trust to efficiently, effectively and honestly lead this party forward.”
Should he be successful in his bid to become leader, Barnes said he would look to cut out “corporate cronyism”, while maintaining his number one priority would be to unify the Wildrose party.
“Good leadership is about building the base of a team where everybody has an important role, I think we have some work to do (to rebuild this party),” Barnes said. “We need to work hard to develop constituencies whereby we are able to support good candidates like Scott Cyr. We need to be better at providing the choice for Albertans that is expected of us.”
Having attended each of the three leadership meet and greats, local resident Marie Ilchuk said she was confident the Wildrose party would be in good hands regardless of the outcome on March 28.
“What I have seen by listening to these candidates is that they each have a lot of experience and great deal of background in finance, business, politics and a wide variety of other things,” Ilchuk said. “These are well diversified candidates, which I think is important for someone looking to lead (a political party).”
She added, “Problem solving is a large part of politics and (will be a large part of what we expect from the next Wildrose leader) so with each candidate having the ability to call on (a wealth) of experience and knowledge, it can only be a good thing (for us Wildrose members).”
“I'm absolutely confident in the future of this party.”
The vote for Wildrose leadership started up on March 16 via telephone ballot and will run until this Saturday. For more information, visit www.wildrose.ca.