August 17th, 2018

Alberta Party leadership hopefuls spread message in Medicine Hat

By Gillian Slade on February 2, 2018.

The three candidates for leadership of the Alberta Party Ñ Kara Levis, Stephen Mandel and Rick Fraser Ñ make a stop in Medicine Hat Thursday evening to speak with a packed audience.--NEWS PHOTO GILLIAN SLADE 

Hatters packed a local venue Thursday evening to hear from the candidates for leadership of the Alberta Party.

Kara Levis is in favour of a introducing a provincial sales tax and believes Albertans would generally be supportive of that. She also mentioned non-residents and visitors not paying any income tax.

“They’re not contributing to our infrastructure … and that is a loss to our province,” said Levis, a Calgary lawyer with the Energy Law group at TransCanada.

Candidate Stephen Mandel does not agree.

“I would show the Alberta public that as a government we can manage their money and my money effectively, and spend it in an efficient way, still delivering all the services we need — that’s vital,” he said.

Any decision on a sales tax, if it got that far, would have to be made with a referendum — it would “not be morally right without one,” Mandel said.

Mandel was Edmonton’s mayor from 2004 to 2013, and won a byelection to be the Progressive Conservative MLA for Edmonton-Whitemud in 2014, briefly becoming minister of health.

“I think (the experience) it’s an advantage for the party. I think that dealing with large issues and larger budgets makes a big difference in understanding financial obligations,” said Mandel.

Having been is business for 35 years before entering municipal politics, Mandel believes he is in a position to help rekindle the Albertan advantage. Diversifying the economy and addressing health care would be on his agenda.

There have been lots of good ideas on ways to improve health care, and it is time to execute some of those, said Rick Fraser, who is in his second term as MLA for Calgary-South East. Before entering politics he spent 12 years as an advanced-care paramedic in Calgary.

He believes there are efficiencies to be found within Alberta Health Services.

“We also need to look at the organization … to find ways to lean it out from a management perspective,” said Fraser, who believes early retirements and attrition would accomplish this.

Fraser was elected MLA in 2012 under the Progressive Conservative party banner. He chose to sit as an independent after the Wildrose and PC parties merged to form the United Conservative Party.

Levis has not been elected to political office before but has lots of experience working on political campaigns. Her leadership campaign theme is about putting the province before politics.

The leadership race was triggered after former leader Greg Clark stepped down in November. He remains an MLA with the party and has said he will run in the next election.

To vote in the leadership election you need to be a member of the Alberta Party by Feb. 12. Online voting will start at noon on Feb. 25 and finish at noon on Feb. 27 using a preferential online ballot. The winner will be announced Feb. 27.

The next provincial election must be called by May 2019, about 15 months away.

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