By Jamie Rieger
Cypress/Medicine Hat MLA Drew Barnes is in the midst of vying for the Wildrose Party leadership and plans to stick to grassroots politics if elected.
Barnes, who is competing against Linda Osinchuk and Brian Jean for the leadership chair told the Commentator last week that the disadvantage of having a short political race is going to be in trying to regain trust lost when colleagues left the Wildrose Party to the PCs while getting his message out there and build on its membership.
“First of all, we need to return to the grassroots politics and listen to our members and all of Albertans. We will continue to work hard in all 87 constituencies in Alberta,” said Barnes. “We will listen, we will act, and we will lead. I am committed to grassroots engagement, trust, and fiscal responsibility,” he said.
Wildrose Party president, Jeff Callaway said all three candidates bring political experience to the race.
“We have a formeer mayor, a sitting MLA, and a former MP on the ballot with each hailing from a different corner of the province,” said Callaway. “The calibre of candidates we have attracted for this race is a good indicator of the strength of the Wildrose.”
Wildrose Party members will begin to vote for their leader on March 16, with the final day of voting and the announcement of the new leader taking place on March 28.
Last week, Barnes presented a speech at Edmonton’s Member Assembly. Below is the speech in its entirety:
“ I am very grateful to represent the good people of Cypress-Medicine Hat.
Recent events in the Wildrose party have led me to offer my time and abilities as leader. I believe that being Wildrose leader will give me an even greater opportunity to promote the different and unique regions of our province.
The vote for a new leader will be conducted by phone. In order to be eligible to vote, you must be a member of the Wildrose Party by March 14th, 2015, at the latest.
The early and unconditional support given to me by residents living in my riding made it clear to me that the best way to represent the people of Cypress-Medicine Hat is to remain an effective Wildrose member of the Legislative Assembly. I was given my mandate by voters as a member of the Wildrose Party and all that it stands for – a commitment to financial responsibility, free votes, and grass roots democracy.
I was also reminded by voters that the Progressive Conservative government run by Jim Prentice has not changed draconian property rights laws; has not fixed sole source contracting and severance issues throughout the public service; but has threatened to break their own election law.
I firmly believe Jim Prentice is destroying business confidence in Alberta by threatening to tax everything that moves: sales tax, sugar, gas, health care, income, liquor taxes and even extra user fees. This tax and spend approach will not attract investment and business to Alberta!
Nor is it the conservative way.
I also recognize that good economic policy encourages good social policies. The people of Cypress-Medicine Hat often speak to me about their values and the importance of their families and local businesses. Giving people economic opportunities allows them to care for themselves as well as to help others. Jim Prentice and the PC government are threatening our ability to create a more prosperous Alberta.
Speaking with Albertans and listening to their desire for more efficient government, less bureaucracy, health care that works, real property rights, affordable utilities and democratic accountability has hardened my resolve. I also know that many of you have offered innovative and workable solutions to these issues. Your ideas have equipped me with the policies and the drive necessary to make these changes a reality.
I hope that you will support me in my bid to win the leadership of the Wildrose Party. No matter the outcome, I will continue to work hard here in Cypress-Medicine Hat and across Alberta and to advance solutions and to hold the PC Party to account.”