New premier facing a challenge

Former Alberta MLA, Len Webber, following his nomination by the federal Conservative Party for Calgary Confederation, vacated the Foothills riding in late September. The riding is being closely watched as Alberta Premier Jim Prentice, vies for the seat in the legislature.

The candidates running for the Calgary Foothills seat are:

• PC – Jim Prentice – Twitter
• Wildrose – Kathy Macdonald – Twitter
• NDP – Jennifer Burgess – Twitter
• Alberta Party – Michelle Glavine – Twitter
• Green Party – Polly Knowlton Cockett – Twitter
• Alberta Liberal Party – Robert Prcic – Twitter
• Independent – Dave Woody Phillips

Candidates’ platforms are all generally the same with a few variations between parties. Care for seniors, updating Calgary schools, healthcare and maintaining Calgary infrastructure are what the candidates are talking about.

(SEE ALSO: Calgary-West, Calgary-Elbow)

Calgary Journal Note: For the Q&A portions of this article—with each of the Q&A’s being conducted through email— the candidates were charged with answering the questions asked of them using a maximum of 100 words.

The Calgary Journal byelection team made multiple attempts to encourage Jim Prentice and Kathy MacDonald to take part in in the Q&A portion of this article but were refused.

Candidates Snapshots

Jennifer Burgess, NDPPhoto taken from Twitter.
Jennifer Burgess is new to Alberta politics. She does have extensive experience in the technical communications community. She is currently a technical communicator and strategist for CH2M Hill. She is involved within her community as a member of the Beltline Communities association, a volunteer with the Women’s Centre, and a founding member of the Calgary Take Back the Night committee.

Platform Tidbit: Burgess is interested in protecting and strengthening quality public education at the K-12 level and at the post-secondary level as well. For more information on Burgess, visit http://albertandp.ca/jenniferburgess

1. What do you think is most at stake in this byelection from your party’s perspective?

The New Democrat Party has been working very hard to build the caucus, build membership and spread our ideas. We are definitely building momentum and that is what is most at stake in these byelections. It’s fair to say that our support in Calgary is still growing and I would hate for the results of the byelections to turn voters off of considering the NDP as a viable choice for 2016.

2. What is the biggest misconception that the public has about your party?

I don’t think people realize how strong our support is. Recent polling shows the NDP is leading in Edmonton. We have four MLAs serving constituencies in the capital city. Our membership has doubled this year. We just had a huge leadership rally, where over 500 members gathered to celebrate our new leader, Rachel Notley. Edmonton has really accepted the New Democrats as the alternative and we have our sights set on growing that support in Calgary next.

3. What is your approach to establishing trust with your electorate?

I get to know the constituents. You can’t build trust by making empty promises or speaking to voters through press conferences. You have to get out there and knock on doors and talk to people. Most importantly, you have to listen to people. I’ve been spending all the time I can talking to voters about what they care about and how they want to be represented. Even if it’s just a few minutes, that one-on-one connection goes a long way.

Photo courtesy of Michelle Glavine.Michelle Glavine, Alberta Party
Glavine is an active member in her community and was a public school teacher for 17 years. She is the Calgary president for the Alberta Teachers’ Association.

Glavine is currently working on her masters in educational leadership, and already holds two Bachelor degrees – education and sociology. Glavine is a regular community and school volunteer and is an active community member.

Platform Tidbit: She will work towards creating a strong environmental policy and will give support to any initiatives that encourage water conservation. For more info on Glavine, visit http://michelle4yycfoothills.com/

1. What do you think is most at stake in this byelection from your party’s perspective?

The Alberta Party is about “new energy,” not defining ourselves simply through old “left” or “right” politics, but making decisions based on solid evidence and grounded in shared values of Albertans. People feel disengaged with government and politics, and that is what is at stake here — the Alberta Party is trying to bring governance back to the people, to engage citizens actively, to give them an influence. Without this option for constituents, we will continue to get more of the same. It’s time to build great communities through sustainable fiscal and social responsibility, and truly community connected governance. What is at stake in this byelection is allowing a way for Albertans to find their voice.

2. What is the biggest misconception that the public has about your party?

The biggest misconception? Well, I am bringing the message of the Alberta Party, and the new energy and ideas to the people, along with the other three candidates running in these byelections. Mostly, I’d like to see the citizens become more familiar with the vision of the Alberta Party, because we stand for the prosperity of all Albertans. The Alberta Party is gaining recognition and support, with every opportunity to interact with citizens of our communities, that recognition and support increases.

3. What is your approach to establishing trust with your electorate?

My approach to establishing trust with my electorate is being open, honest, connected and accountable. I am very much a part of the community that I am running in. I believe that government should be transparent with its decisions and policy-making; after all, it’s public dollars that the government is spending. Communication and understanding the community is key to being able to establish trust. I believe in engagement in democracy, government should stop doing business behind closed doors. Engage in open consultation, listen to constituents and provide easily accessible information.

Polly Knowlton Cockett, Green PartyPhoto taken from Twitter.
2014 has been a good year for Cockett to date. After earning her PhD in Environmental Education at the University of Calgary, this Calgary Board of Education teacher and U of C sessional instructor recently earned the 2014 Alberta Emerald Award for Environmental Excellence. In addition, Cockett is an active member of many different community organizations.

Platform Tidbit: She and her party would push for school programs that would be geared towards improving civility and eliminating violence and bullying. For more information on Cockett, visit http://greenpartyofalberta.ca/2013/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/20140930polly.pdf

1. What do you think is most at stake in this byelection from your party’s perspective?

The Green Party of Alberta was reconstituted in fall 2012 after a hiatus of a few years. These byelections give us a chance to rebuild our public profile and by running two candidates in the byelections, shows voters we are back and to be taken seriously. Our two byelection campaigns also give party members and supporters an opportunity to hone some of their campaigning skills — such as organizing volunteers to door-knock and distribute leaflets — which will put us in a better position for the general election which is expected in 2016.

2. What is the biggest misconception that the public has about your party?

Green parties at the international, national and provincial levels are political parties committed to bringing green values such as sustainability, respect for diversity and participatory democracy to the legislative and executive branches of government through running candidates in elections. We are sometimes confused with activist groups such as Greenpeace that have quite different agendas. Another misconception is that Greens are concerned only with environmental issues. Greens are deeply concerned about social justice, about preserving the strength of democracy in Alberta — and in Canada — and also about the pursuit of peaceful solutions to problems that plague humanity.

3. What is your approach to establishing trust with the electorate?

Greens, with deep concern about the health of our democracy, are committed to dealing with the electorate in a respectful, listening and truthful manner. Our political process illustrates that only through adhering to such high standards will the public get over their often-cynical views about politics. Green policies challenge the status quo; we ask, for example, that the rate of production from the oilsands not be allowed to increase and that significantly tighter environmental controls be imposed on those operations. If the public trusts that Greens are motivated by public interest, then people will support such tough changes and vote Green.

Photo taken from Wildrose website.Kathy MacDonald, Wildrose

Kathy McDonald, a 40-year resident of Calgary, was a member of the Calgary Police Service for 25 years. During her time with CPS, she specialized in developing legislation that dealt with cybercrime in developing countries. In 2009, the Governor General of Canada named her a Member of the Order of Merit of the Police Forces.

Platform Tidbit: Will look to create effective communication with all stakeholders regarding local infrastructure decisions. To learn more about MacDonald, visit http://www.kathymacdonald.ca/kathy_macdonald

Robert Prcic, LiberalPhoto courtesy of Robert Prcic campaign team.
Prcic is making his second attempt to earn the right to represent Calgarians at the Alberta Legislature. He ran in the Calgary-Northwest riding in the 2012 provincial election. In addition to political experience, Prcic is the owner of GTR Auto. He volunteers in the community as a basketball coach, in addition to other endeavors.

Platform Tidbit: Prcic will look to get every Albertan a family doctor and wellness team. To learn more about Prcic, visit http://www.robprcic.ca/
1. What do you think is most at stake in this byelection from your party’s perspective?

I believe the thing that is most at stake in this byelection is the trust Albertans have been giving to the current government. The PC’s have ruined this trust relationship by not showing up to public debates and providing poor excuses as to why they have been absent from their duties as an official agent of the government.

2. What is the biggest misconception the public has about your party?

Liberals in general have been seen negatively in Alberta since Pierre Trudeau’s era and the implementation of the National Energy Policy. It was a mistake and everyone is allowed to make mistakes. Look at all the good we have done for Canada — for instance the Canadian Charter. Liberals have always been there for Canadians. We have always served with great respect and appreciation to everyone no matter what orientation. We listen to all issues, big and small, and have always been accountable. Liberal MLA’s serving in Alberta have always stood by their word and have never failed their constituencies.

3. What is your approach in establishing trust with the electorate?

My approach in establishing trust with voters is going door-to-door and showing them that this hard working, young and energetic business owner is here to stay and will be accountable, accessible and reliable for the residences of the Calgary Foothills constituency.

Photo taken from Facebook.Jim Prentice, PC
Prentice — after winning the PC leadership race on Sept.6 — was sworn in as Alberta’s 16th premier on Sept. 15, 2014. Before being voted as Alberta’s leader, he served six years in Parliament as the MP for Calgary-Centre North. While in parliament he served as Minister of Industry, Minister of the Environment and Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

Platform Tidbit: He will aim to maximize the value of the province’s natural resource sector. For more information on Prentice, visit http://www.jimprentice.ca/

Dave Woody Phillips, Independent
Numerous attempts have been made to engage with this candidate about his platform but the Calgary Journal byelection team has not been able to reach Mr. Phillips. There is no website or social media information for this individual that expresses the policies and initiatives he stands for.

Editors’ note: Thumbnail photo courtesy of Daryl Mitchell on Creative Commons

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