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Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche MLA hopefuls visit community

Gogo drops puck Friday, Jean at the Bold Center Saturday.

It was a busy weekend for politics and playtime at the Lac La Biche Bold Center. Both candidates looking at the vacant MLA seat for the region were at the recreation facility in recent days as part of their meet-and-greet tours.

Fort McMurray lawyer Brian Jean, a past political representative for the region, and Joshua Gogo, a Fort McMurray-based businessperson, have formally announced their intentions for the position. Gogo and Jean are seeking the vacant MLA position left when former provincial representative Laila Goodridge left to become the area's federal Member of Parliament. 

Gogo, along with Alberta's Justice Minister Kaycee Madu and Lac La Biche County Mayor Paul Reutov were at Bold Center on Friday night to applaud the home-team Portage College Voyageurs at their Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference season-opener against the NAIT Ooks.

Reutov is also the owner of Bold Developments, the sponsoring company behind the Bold Center's name.

Gogo and Madu were also part of an invite-only supporters' event at the Fat Unicorn bar and restaurant earlier in the day. Reutov is also the owner of that establishment. The event was said to have been scheduled before Reutov was elected as Lac La Biche County mayor.

Jean was at the Bold Center Saturday as part of his pre-byelection campaign trail.

Brian Jean in Lac La Biche

Jean enjoys his regular visits to the Lac La Biche area. He was the region's federal Member of Parliament from 2004-2014 before joining provincial politics as the elected leader of Alberta's Wildrose Party. He left provincial politics in 2018 following a failed bid to seek the leadership of the newly formed UCP party, a merger of the Wildrose and Conservatives.  Jean is hoping to return to the provincial MLA post — and the larger community — after a three-year absence. 

The life-long northeastern Albertan says his coming visits will be informal — but with an urgent message; he wants to be the MLA — and then the provincial government's leader.

"I'll be in Lac La Biche, into Plamondon, the Bold Center ... just hanging around," Jean told the Lac La Biche POST newsroom on Friday afternoon, explaining that his drive to return to politics is based on the poor track record of Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, and concerns that an NDP government could return to power as the popularity of the UCP government continues to decline.

"If something is not done, it's obvious to everyone in Alberta that (NDP leader) Rachel Notley will win," he said.

Jean pulls no punches when it comes to his desire to replace Kenney. He says the Alberta Premier is the cause of the province's difficult times. Jean says his tough stance against Kenney will not cause the party's conservative base to fracture further — it will solidify and enhance it.

"It's not about political games — If anyone thinks I'm destabilizing the party ... removing him will actually stabilize the party," he said,  explaining the current 'Kenney-first' formula  doesn't help Albertans.

"We currently have a government with a minister of one," he said.

While candidates are already circling the vacant MLA post,  Premier Kenney has yet to announce an official date for the by-election or officially accept any UCP candidates to the race.

A reporter from the Lac La Biche POST newsroom was at the Gogo meet-and-greet event at the Fat Unicorn. Check for that story and updates.

Rob McKinley

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