Editorial – Choose wisely

Jeff Burgar

If clapping hands and hoots and cheers at last weeks all-candidates forum means anything, it’s going to be a close race in the High Prairie region between incumbent MLA Danielle Larivee and UCP candidate Pat Rehn.

Going one further, Rehn had the edge. Not unexpectedly, since Rehn is pretty well not a local fellow, his talking was thin on local issues. His biggest cheers came when he said the UCP will ditch the Notley plan to buy rail cars to ship Alberta crude.

To paraphrase Rehn’s comments on shipping rail by crude: “Dangerous. Reckless. It will take away needed rail space from farmers because you know, there is only one track. All it takes is one car to go into Lesser Slave Lake and there goes your entire tourism industry. There is only one safe way to ship oil and that’s by pipeline.”

Conclude yourself if the Secure Energy trans-loader east of High Prairie will be permanently shut down if UCP is elected. Or if every truckload of crude, perhaps heading to Tervita, going through High Prairie, will be taken off the roads. All because a Jason Kenney UCP government will snap their fingers and presto, new pipelines will be everywhere, instantly.

Alberta politicians have been arguing for years. Energy East, Keystone XL, Northern Gateway, Trans Mountain, and even Mackenzie Valley and Churchill pipeline routes to the Arctic. Kenney is going to make a pipeline, any pipeline, appear magically.

Yes sir! Right now! And the crowd went wild!

Really! Yes, we are a very gullible bunch!

But hey, if this is what revs our motors and floats our boats, we are all for it.

Candidate Vincent Rain for the Alberta Party is a credible candidate. As he said, he spoke from the heart about how all peoples need to work together.

Candidate Suzette Powder for the Independence Party is also credible. As some said after the forum, “Her message [about Western Canada or Alberta independence] is just a bit too early perhaps. But it’s coming.” She was well-spoken and sincere.

Incumbent Danielle Larivee obviously has a far better handle on Lesser Slave Lake than any of the so-called parachute candidates. She spoke on her track record and work in the High Prairie region, which included the new Northern Lakes college campus, obstetrics and dialysis.

Rehn has all eggs in the basket of pipelines. Larivee says pipelines are the priority, but crude by rail and production cuts also count. Rain and Powder also like the energy industry.

When it came time for audience questions, there were few attempts to hold any candidate’s feet to any fires. There were limited responses and ideas over tourism, agriculture, schools, forestry and government services.

Larivee has many shortcomings locally. Even so, as a resident in the constituency, she has by far the best handle on needs. That alone makes her the best candidate.

It isn’t to say other candidates can’t learn on the job. Whether they will learn, take hints from a few supposed to be in the know locals, or spend most days passing on decisions from higher up, is a question to be fairly asked of any candidate.

Also, unlikely to be answered for a while yet.

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