Premier Jim Prentice makes a visit to the Central Vet Clinic Wednesday

Premier Jim Prentice makes a visit to the Central Vet Clinic Wednesday

Premier Prentice makes campaign stop in Ponoka

With the provincial election campaign period underway politicians are already making their stops in communities

With the provincial election campaign period underway politicians are already making their stops in communities.

Premier Jim Prentice was the first to stop in Ponoka and he took some time to answer some questions.

The first question to Prentice was whether he felt there would be backlash from voters after seeing Wildrose members such as former MLA Rod Fox cross over to the PC Party. Fox ultimately lost the PC nomination to Peter DeWit.

“I think the ballot question in this election is who has a realistic plan for the future of this province,” answered Prentice.

With a large deficit and a tough economic outlook, he suggests the question should be on who has long and short-term plans for the province. In reference to DeWit, the new PC candidate for Lacombe-Ponoka, Prentice said “He won the nomination contest fair and square.”

Following up on the nomination process, Prentice was asked about PC Party rules that have recently come under fire. One of those rules is not to release the voting results of the nomination election.

Prentice did not answer the question directly except to say the PC Party nominated 87 candidates across the province. “We’ve got a really fine team of men and women.”

“At the end of the day people will judge the parties by how realistic the plan is they put forward,” he added.

Prentice also touched on the goal of the budget.

“It’s important that we keep building infrastructure,” said Prentice.

There are four key goals in the budget, he added:

• Balancing the books despite a $7 billion deficit while still spending money for infrastructure. “We plan to rebalance over three years,” he said.

• Cutting waste and duplication of services.

• Protecting frontline jobs such as teachers and nurses; while some of those jobs are protected, the ones that will lose jobs are the ones not in unions.

• Keep building the public infrastructure. “We may have made a conscious choice over the next three years, in the face of oil prices, to building infrastructure,” the premier said.

Diversification of resources

During the budget announcement, the premier mentioned diversifying resources but that related to existing ones and not delving into renewable resources. When asked about it, Prentice said the province needed to work around its strengths.

“We need more agricultural processing, we need to open up new markets in the Asia-Pacific,” said Prentice.

He says building on the province’s core industries of energy, agriculture, tourism and forestry are the main areas to focus on.