In 2008, Pitt was working as an events planner for a business in Grand Prairie when the Premier, Ed Stelmach, introduced a royalty review that would introduce higher royalties on the Albertan oil and gas industry. The royalty review coincided with a fall in oil prices during the world recession in the same year.
Oil and gas companies as well as smaller businesses complained that these royalties hurt their profits, and they threatened to move out of the province or shut down. This caused a huge loss of jobs in Alberta.
Paul Wolff, a businessman from Airdrie, saw the effects of the royalty review as it caused three of his friends’ businesses to declare bankruptcy. Wolff said that he had to lay off 81 people after the royalty review was put in place. Many more lost their jobs within businesses that Wolff worked closely with.
“Other businessmen that we work with have also minimized employees, turned to machines, sold assets to reduce debt, and lessened the effort to grow the company due to the instability of the economy,” said Wolff.
Pitt’s income dropped to the point where she could not adequately provide for her family.
“[The economic consequences of the royalty review] directly affected the ability of my family to put food on the table,” said Pitt. “That’s when I really went, ‘hold on, this is really unacceptable, what can I do?”
In 2009, Pitt moved back to Airdrie and became one of the founding members of the Wild Rose Constituency Association. This allowed Pitt to get a greater insight into the workings of the political system. Pitt unsuccessfully ran in the municipal election in 2013.
“I came from a family that liked to talk politics, but I wasn’t really sure how it all worked,” said Pitt. “I learned a lot going through that process and it is not necessarily something I regret.”
Pitt threw her hat into the political arena again in 2015 when the Wild Rose party was without a candidate for the upcoming provincial election. She was elected as MLA for Airdrie in 2015.
When the Wild Rose and the Progressive Conservative parties united in 2017, Pitt was elected to be the main candidate for the new United Conservative Party and was re-elected in the 2019 provincial election.
Nancy Holland, the volunteer data collector from Pitt’s campaign, also experienced financial troubles in the aftermath of Stelmach’s royalty review. That is why she feels it is important for her to volunteer her time to Pitt because Pitt knows the struggles she went through.
Holland said the most important issues for Pitt is “Reducing the debt accumulated over the past 4 years. Reducing Red Tape. Representing the people of Airdrie.”
Pitt would consider running for higher positions in government if the opportunity presented itself, but for now, she believes that she is right where she needs to be.
“I put my name on the ballot because I was supposed to, it was my time and I’m exactly where I need to be,” said Pitt. “If I am exactly where I need to be in the future, it doesn’t matter what that position looks like.”
- By Martin Griesel