With the federal election fast approaching, Town & Country News spoke with the candidates in our Grande Prairie – Mackenzie riding (as of press time).
Conservative Party of Canada- Chris Warkentin
The CPC incumbent Chris Warkentin will seek re-election this September, which will be his sixth federal election.
He has served on several committees as an MP and was the Deputy House Leader in 2017.
Born in Grande Prairie and raised on a farm near Debolt, Warkentin studied business and marketing at the Grande Prairie Regional College.
“The paramount priority for our party, and for myself personally, is to rebuild the local, provincial, and the national economy,” said Warkentin.
“The only way to rebuild an individual's finances is to create jobs and to ensure that people have the high paying jobs and the well-paying jobs that will lead to growth and prosperity and opportunity for people throughout the Peace country and throughout the province, and country.”
“The government can only spend the money that it brings in, and the government shouldn't be bringing in additional funds by raising taxes at a time that Canadians can least afford to pay an increase in taxes.
“We need a government that will actually support the industry that will recognize its importance and will sell the merits of the industry and the product that we produce here in the province of Alberta, around the world because we do know that there is no other country that produces an energy in a way that protects the environment as well as we do, or protects the human rights of those people that work in the industry.”
Warkentin said the Conservative party would work with the U.S. to ensure that it comes to Canada for its oil and gas needs before OPEC or any other foreign oil.
“An election will provide people with that outlet, that opportunity, to make their voices heard to ensure that Justin Trudeau understands that he is taking the country on a bad track and it's time to, to bring Canada back to a place of a fiscal stability, a place where we see a Conservative government that will advance the interests of places like the Peace country.”
Maverick Party- Ambrose Ralph
Ambrose Ralph is running for the Maverick party, a party that hopes to bring more Western Canada representation to Ottawa.
Ralph, a Grande Prairie resident, is an army veteran and oil gas worker; this is his first time entering the political ring.
“I've been a political activist since December 27, 2018,” said Ralph.
He ran an oil and gas company with about 100 employees and was told by the vice-president that they would need to cut costs.
“In frustration, I sat down and never had any social media at the time, but I did have a LinkedIn account, so I wrote a short letter. I posted it to my LinkedIn account, and it went viral, so a few friends of mine convinced me to take that op-ed and put it in a video,” he said.
The video gained about a million views, he said. He then started a political activist platform called ‘Alberta to the point’ where he advocates for Alberta oil and gas, pipelines and how the west is being treated.
“We (Maverick party) believe that we have to at least try to get a fair deal within Confederation, we have to try to open up the constitution and get a fair deal for our western citizens.
“If that fair deal is not possible within our own country, then the writing is on the wall, and Western Canada has to leave Canada,” said Ralph.
“I don't mean that we're giving up on Canada,” he explains, “Canada would have given up on us.
“We are preserving those values that we hold so dear about Canada, right here in Alberta.
“So we're not necessarily going to leave Canada; we're going to preserve what is left of Canada.”
Ralph said he doesn’t think that one or even a group of Maverick MPs going to Ottawa will change the world.
If elected, Ralph says, “it will be the first time in the history of Canada that an MP that supports a possible road to sovereignty hasn't been elected in Canada outside the province of Quebec.”
Ralph isn’t concerned with splitting the Conservative vote in his riding.
“If there was a possibility of a vote split in this area, I would not run.
“If there was a possibility that a Liberal would win this riding, I would not run.”
Peoples Party of Canada- Shawn McLean
Sexsmith area resident Shawn McLean is running for the Peoples Party of Canada.
McLean works as an instrumentation technician with a pipeline company, and this is his first foray into politics.
“This isn't really an ambition for me,” said McLean but, “when the option presented itself that there is actually a true Conservative option out there, I jumped at the opportunity to be a part of it.
“I have pretty strong beliefs on how ineffective politicians have actually been and the game that they seem to play.”
“The People's Party of Canada is pretty much about individual freedom, personal responsibility, respect and fairness, and that's really what it comes down to.
“We want to have a government that takes care of the country by letting the provinces take care of themselves, and somebody that actually listened to what Canadians want.”
McLean explained that the highest priority items for him are “getting pipelines in place, fixing the equalization issues, so it's actually fair for us, giving people choices, making the government smaller and getting the powers back to the provinces so that the provinces can take care of its people.”
If elected, the benefits to the South Peace would be “about actually having an active MP going to Ottawa and making the points with the backing of a federal party that can actually represent what it is that people want,” explained McLean.
As far as vote-splitting in the riding, McLean is not concerned.
“There's no way the Liberals are going to get in power again.”
“This is about basically holding our existing government and our existing opposition accountable by saying you know what, our people are fed up, and we're actually going to vote on our principles instead of our fears.”
Jesse Boily, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Town & Country News