CHARLES TWEED/Ponoka News
The Ponoka Stampede brings cowboys and cowgirls from across the world to Alberta for one week of rodeo action and wherever there is a crowd there is sure to be a few politicians as well.
The Stampede parade featured mayors, councillors, reeves, MLAs, an MP and the leader of the Wildrose Alliance Party of Alberta, Danielle Smith.
“I couldn’t imagine that there would be so many people here,” said Smith at a barbeque she hosted after the parade. “People are from all over and it clearly is a big attraction for the area and it is fantastic to be here today.”
Smith extolled the virtues of the Stampede before zeroing in on her political targets.
“I think there are a lot of people who are beginning to look at their options in Alberta. It seems like the Wildrose flower is blooming as you go further and further north. I’ve met a lot of people today that fell like it’s time for a change,” explained Smith.
“They’re understanding that after 40 years in power the government runs out of steam, out of ideas and it needs new and fresh people to come in and address the issues of the day.”
Smith is delighted with the calibre of candidates the party has been able to wrangle to fly the banner of the Wildrose Alliance and believes the economy will be a major issue in the coming election.
“The fact that people are looking at Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan used to be a place that we could count on to attract young people and entrepreneurs and now people are looking back across the border and thinking maybe things are going better in Saskatchewan,” said Smith.
Alberta has long relied on the oil and gas sector to spur the economy and the opposition leader didn’t like what she saw in a recent study by the Fraser Institute.
‘We’re in the bottom half of jurisdictions in Canada as far as the best place to invest in energy. We’re ranked 51 out of a 136 jurisdictions. Namibia is seen as a more safe investment climate than Alberta. There are horror stories after horror stories about the red tape and regulation that this government continues to wrap small businesses up in our business sector,” said Smith.
The Wildrose Alliance party has four of the 83 seats in Alberta but has seen a wave of grassroots support over the past two years, something Smith plans to capitalize on.
“We used to have the Alberta advantage and this government has slowly but surely dismantled it and the big question that Albertans are going to have to answer in the next election is whether or not they can trust this current government that created all the problems to fix them or whether it’s time to bring in a new group.”