The Wildrose Alliance wrapped up its annual general meeting in Red Deer this weekend, setting the policy direction of the party and delivering a warning to the government of the party's plans to continue to make gains next election.
“We accomplished everything that we set out to do,” said Chuck Farrer, Wildrose Alliance constituency association president for Bonnyville-Cold Lake. “In 30 years of politics it's the best one I've ever been to.”
Six members attended from the Bonnyville-Cold Lake constituency association, including town councilor Gene Sobolewski. He said the party has made substantial gains in the last year.
“I think it's an absolutely new direction and a refreshing direction,” Sobolewski said. “It's the most democracy I've seen in a long time.”
Wildrose Alliance members voted on 44 policy resolutions. The party will continue to support increasing the amount of private health care options. It will also support the development of an Alberta constitution within the framework of the Canadian constitution.
“I think it's paramount important that the electorate and the people of Alberta or any other government have confidence in their government, and I think a constitution that will guide you is a tool to use with it,” Farrer said.
“I think it's going to help Alberta by setting down a set of guidelines,” Sobolewski said.
The party did not pass a policy that would support owning firearms as a form of property rights.
The meeting confirmed that the party is established in all 83 constituencies in Alberta. Candidate nominations will start in fall, something Sobolewski said he is considering. The Bonnyville-Cold Lake constituency association has around 250 members and, according to Farrer, is continuing to grow.
The convention endorsed Danielle Smith, with 97.7 per cent in favour of her leadership. Around 1000 people turned out to hear her keynote address on Friday.
“People are standing up and saying, ‘We've had enough. We've had enough of incompetent leadership and political elitists telling us what's good for us. We've had enough of socialists and liberals masquerading as conservatives,'” Smith said.
“They also say they've had enough of this government's claim that there is no way to fix health care except by spending more money, no way to save the environment other than by taking away property rights, or no way to balance the books except by punishing our energy industry.”
As to education, Smith said teachers need more control over tailoring studies to the needs of individual students. “We can't be pushing kids through schools like vehicles on an assembly line,” she said, adding that the government today is spending more but doing less in regards to educational policy.
“Why? Because change takes more than excuses and cabinet shuffles. First and foremost, it takes a government with the courage to lead.”
As to fiscal policy, Smith said money ups and downs in the province stem from spending problems, not primarily revenue issues.
“We need to set legislative limits for spending, and rules for deficit and debt financing. Government needs to understand the same principles that apply to balancing the family budget apply to balancing government budgets. We can't spend money we haven't got.”
Smith will continue her party building campaign in Bonnyville, Cold Lake, and Glendon on Sept. 14 and 15.
With files from Mark Weber