Editorial – What UCP candidate is best for the north?

Richard Froese

The race to elect a new Alberta premier and leader of the United Conservative Party winds down to the final weeks.
Who will be the best person to lead the party and the government into a prosperous future for the province?
People in rural and northern regions are looking for a premier to address various issues that have hurt their communities for far too long.
Former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith showed that she is a champion of rural regions when she spoke to about 60 people at a townhall meeting Aug. 4 in High Prairie.
She heard all about the chronic concerns of poor healthcare service from local residents.
Smith is determined to fix the healthcare system that has hurt rural and remote regions since Alberta Health Services was established in 2008.
If elected premier and UCP leader, she says she would return local health authorities.
Smith says she wants to restructure the governance of health care to give decisions to local healthcare boards or councils to make decisions in the best interest of the community.
They would also be able to recruit physicians and other health professionals to work in hospitals to provide services close to home for patients and residents.
AHS has a chronic record of focusing on hospitals in major centres and ignoring rural and remote regions.
Although she lives in High River, Smith has a passion for the north.
She also shared her vision to create a northern economic corridor which would also include enhanced broadband service.
“If you want rural communities to grow, you have to have the right infrastructure,” Smith says.
“We would be able to build highways, pipelines and broadband, bring clean water to First Nations and become the economic hub of western Canada.”
She says it would build communities and attract newcomers, families and workers to fill job positions and cause huge growth.
Smith is the first visiting candidate to share her platform and respond to issues in the region.
As people talked about Smith after the meeting, many wondered what candidate will be the next to tour the local region.
To deal with healthcare and economic issues, it seems that Smith may be just what the doctor ordered.
A column in the Edmonton Sun in early August states she has a comfortable lead in a recent poll by her team.
Grande Prairie – Wapiti MLA and former finance minister Travis Toews is touted as Smith’s strongest challenger.
Representing the Falher-McLennan region, Central Peace – Notley MLA Todd Loewen announced his platform in the June 8 and June 15 edition of the South Peace News.
The doors to local communities are open to Toews, Loewen and the other candidates Brian Jean, Leela Aheer, Rebecca Schulz and Rajan Sawhney.
Candidates will no doubt be busy on the campaign before UCP members vote Oct. 6.

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