There are currently two declared candidates in the nomination race to be the first representative for the United Conservative Party (UCP) in the riding of Lacombe-Ponoka.
The Ponoka News conducted interviews with both candidates last week, with both being asked the same questions. Below are the answers from Rita Reich, a farmer from the Ponoka area.
What prompted you to run for the nomination?
I’ve been on the federal Conservative board, was on the Wildrose board until 2016 and when Jason (Kenney) came to Alberta, it really renewed my hope that we could move forward and actually take our province back. I think that we have a tough job ahead of us and we need people in there with the courage to do it.
What are the issues you will target to win the nomination?
Basically, I believe we need people in there with boldness. We need to be able to have people who stand up to the left. We are not extremists. We are actually grassroots, we are true Conservatives and we want to get our economy going again and bring back the Alberta advantage. I think I will be a good force with that.
What do you believe are the issues affecting voters in this constituency?
I think it’s a lot of the same as in any other — it’s the economy, that drives everything. We have to get the economy back on track and that means getting rid of red tape, getting rid of regulations that are strangling businesses and eroding investor confidence in Alberta. If we can get investors back here and rid of the red tape then more people will be wanting to start up businesses, which helps the economy in every facet because we have more taxpayers dollars into the coffers.
How would you work to address those issues during the next election or an MLA, should you win the nomination?
I have deep routes in this community, my daughter is also farming so a third generation is now farming. I’ve lived here my whole life and I am committed to representing my friends and neighbours as a true Conservative. I will be available to listen to everyone’s concerns and work for my constituents.
What are your thoughts on the latest decision regarding the Trans Mountain pipeline?
I’m really disappointed in it. I am not in favour of government owning a private business that should be owned by a private business. I think that’s best left to the private sector. I don’t think the government will do it any better and that still doesn’t address the problem or the reason it was halted — the opposition of the B.C. government and the protesters, and that problem hasn’t been solved yet.
Do you feel repealing the carbon tax will help and why?
I don’t believe the carbon tax is doing anything that they are saying. It’s just basically another tax. The NDP government is putting it straight into their general revenue. (Premier Rachel Notley) had originally said she was giving it back to the taxpayers, which she isn’t doing at all, and it’s doing nothing to change anybody’s behaviour. She’d have to put it up 200 per cent in order to bankrupt us all I guess. So, I don’t think there is any point to the carbon tax and I stand firmly behind Jason Kenney repealing it.
If the carbon tax is repealed, what would you propose to replace that revenue?
I don’t think we need to replace it, it has been proven that lowering taxes actually increases tax revenue because there’s people that will go into business. The only thing is we have to fight the federal government on this tax. So, I don’t believe we need anything to replace it, I think that we need to just get rid of the tax and basically go from there.
What is your proposed solution to the present rural crime issues?
I think the ecomony has affected rural crime, so putting more people back to work will definitely decrease the crime rate. The other thing is, we have this catch and release system, so we need to have judges in there that are willing to prosecute these criminals and make that they aren’t back on the streets in no time at all.
What makes you stand out from the other candidate?
I think that I have very strong beliefs and that I will stand up against the left and the media because I think we need to stick to our principles in being true Conservatives.
Why do you think you are the candidate for the job?
I think that we need somebody in there with boldness, that can stand up to making sure that we get our economy back on track and bring back the Alberta advantage. That means we need balanced budgets, we need less red tape and that’s what I’m fighting for.
As of press time, there had been no date specified for when a candidate would be chosen.