Mount Royal University students noticed a gap in representation at the Calgary-Elbow candidate forum on March 28, but Alberta Party incumbent Greg Clark said this is typical of the United Conservative Party.
“It’s back to the old PC arrogance that lost them the election in 2015. Albertans see through it, and I think we deserve better than that.”
Mount Royal students watching the debate were also disappointed.
Karn Singh, president of the Policy Studies Student Society, said the UCP candidate’s absence felt like a slap in the face to members of the riding.
“I think it said a lot about the party, that in election season, they want to hide from residents.”
Several MRU students told the Calgary Journal they felt the UCP didn’t think the student vote was important enough for Schweitzer to take part. Some students added the UCP no-show would affect their vote even though they didn’t live in the Calgary-Elbow riding.
Also missing was Alberta Liberal candidate Robin Mackintosh who was unable to attend as he was getting his nomination finalized just prior to the event. Joshua Codd, the Liberal candidate for Calgary-Currie, volunteered to stand in for Mackintosh.
Codd said he is disappointed that voters weren’t able to hear from the UCP’s Schweitzer.
“I wish he was here because I think everybody should be able to hear every side of the spectrum.”
Two issues dominate discussion
Attendees registered their questions by writing them down, with many wanting to know candidates’ position on climate change.
Clark, Codd, and Janet Eremenko, the NDP candidate, all agreed that climate change is real and is made worse by humans, but had differing views about the carbon tax.
Eremenko reminded constituents that 60 per cent of Albertans receive rebates, with Clark adding that amount should be trimmed to about 25 per cent, with the remaining money spent on things like innovation funding to better support the transition to clean energy.
Codd agreed with Clark that the NDP’s carbon tax is not right for Albertans, but supports a higher rebate, not a lower one.
“The Alberta Liberals would introduce a revenue-neutral carbon tax, which means that every dollar you give in a carbon tax would be rebated back to you,” said Codd.
This, he said, is fair to Albertans while not putting different institutions through economic hardship.
Candidates also voiced concerns about finding stable funding for the education system in Alberta.
Codd said the Alberta Liberals want to reconfigure the tax system so citizens making less than $57,000 a year would not pay income tax. This, he said, would mean a 10 per cent raise for people in that bracket, including students.
Investing in education, said Eremenko, is a good way to stimulate the economy and invest in Alberta’s future.
Clark said he is concerned with the slow pace of change the NDP government is setting and voiced his concern over education if the UCP were to form government.
“Very concerned that if Jason Kenney wins this election we’re going to see a massive jump in tuition. If the UCP candidate were here, perhaps he’d be able to answer that question” said Clark, calling the absence, “Shameful.”
“If you’re not going to show up to debates, what are you going to be like as an MLA?”
- By Chelsey Mutter