MLA David Hanson, Lac la Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills, is running for UCP nomination in the new electoral boundary of Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul. Hanson was elected in 2015 as a member of the Wild Rose before they united with the Progessive Conservatives to form the United Conservative Party in 2017. He will run against Cold Lake Mayor, Craig Copeland, and Glenn Spiess.
“It’s always a challenge, but I welcome a challenge,” said MLA Hanson. “It’s politics so it’s never an easy road. It is interesting that we’re seeing the interest provided. Back in 2015, people were very reluctant to put their names forward. So it’s good to see people are interested. We’re gonna work hard and sell memberships. That’s what we do.”
Hanson has worked in Bonnyville for 25 years and his son is coming to work as a doctor in town in August.
“The area has been very good to me over the past 25 years I’ve worked here – both Bonnyville and Cold Lake areas. I spend a lot of time out here. I probably know more people in Bonnyville than my hometown of St. Paul.”
In Hanson’s eyes, the biggest issue the NDP government has not addressed during their time is the repair and modeling of Highway 28.
“I was quite disappointed that it didn’t show up in the 3 year plan again this year. It’s something we’ve been pushing for. It’s our main artery to Edmonton and we should have a safe road for people to travel on.”
In the Legislature, Hanson has been vocal about the mental health needs in St. Paul with more beds, and a third doctor in Elk Point.
“We’ve got the beds. The beds are there. It’s just a matter of opening up some of the beds. So we’re really working on that. And hopefully a men’s shelter in St. Paul to take some of the pressure off of the hospital.”
Hanson created a small stir a few weeks ago when on radio station Kool 101.3 he mentioned a senior’s lodge that was serving poor food. The insinuation was that he was talking about Bonny Lodge. Afterwards, he apologized to Town of Bonnyville, but did not mention the three lodges in the area he was referring to.
“We’re compiling a list as a party because we get calls from all over the province. And that was the issue that I brought up. Unfortunately, it was brought up on a local radio station here, and the insinuation was I was talking about Bonny Lodge. Nothing could be farther from the truth.”
During the UCP leadership race, Hanson supported former Wild Rose leader Brian Jean. Despite this, there is no lingering ill-will between him and Jason Kenney.
“I’m loyal to my party and I’m loyal to the leader. At the time it was Brian Jean so my support was behind him. Now my support is 100 per cent behind Jason Kenney.”
In May, the NDP passed Bill 9 which prohibits protestors from being within 50 metres of abortion clinics. The entire UCP caucus walked out during the vote. The NDP called it “shameful.”
“We’re quite used to the insults and the name calling from the other side. Mr. Kenney and the leadership team thought it was in the best interests to ignore it. The NDP – let’s face it – had the majority. If they wanted to pass it so bad they’ve could done it in one day. They have the votes. We were just not going to take the bait.”
Hanson says his three and a half years experience as MLA could give him an edge in the UCP nomination.
“Three and a half years in the house. People talk about experience in politics, but until you’re actually in the house and experiencing it day after day, and dealing with the questions and the issues that come up. And the constituency issues. It’s very wide area. You can’t just focus on one community in the constituency.”
“I represent my area very well. You can talk to anybody from Lac la Biche to Two Hills to Myrnam, Willingdon, Elk Point. I try to be out at everything. I’m at 4H events. I’m at parades. I’m at graduations. I actually get phone calls from people outside of my constituency looking for help because they know I’m a worker and I get things done.”