Image from Kari Whan’s Facebook.
Although a date has not been set, a provincial election will be happening this spring. In the newly expanded constituency of Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul, there are three candidates: sitting UCP MLA for Two Hills-Lac la Biche-St. Paul David Hanson, Alberta Party nominee and former Mayor of St. Paul, Glenn Andersen, and NDP candidate, Cold Lake Elemntary School teacher Kari Whan.
Lakeland Connect sat down with Whan to discuss some issues ahead of the campaign.
It was a few weeks ago I started looking around online and saw that there’s going to be an NDP candidate for this riding. First of all, what’s your background?
“I was born in raised in Alberta. I’m a schoolteacher, I’ve been in this area for 16 years and I’m really excited to be running in this election.
It seems like politics is dominating everywhere you look – why get involved in politics now?
“I think it’s really important right now that this government gets to continue their hard work. I want to step in and get involved and advocate for the people in our communities.
As you’re well aware this area is staunchly conservative, or at least has that perception, so how you convince voters to give the NDP an honest look?
“I think that Rachel Notley has been fighting hard for us for the last few years. The work she has done has been really good for Albertans in general. We know that she’s fighting hard for us, fighting for things that matter to us, like the pipeline, like oil, education, and healthcare. I think those things speak for themselves. She’s doing a lot of hard work and I want to continue to help in this area, advocate for those things so our communities can continue to thrive.
David Hanson will be the UCP candidate and Glenn Andersen will be the Alberta Party candidate, that’s going to be the race in this upcoming election. Scott Cyr was the MLA for Bonnyville-Cold Lake in your riding, with Hanson and Cyr both in the house, in what areas as conservative MLA’s do you think they were lacking? And that an NDP candidate would able to improve upon?
“I think that the UCP coming into power, they said there would be cuts. Dave Hanson said himself there would be cuts and that those cuts would hurt. Albertans aren’t looking to be hurt, they’re looking to prosper and keep thriving and the NDP government has cut the deficit, they’ve been fighting for a pipeline. Rachel Notley has created thousands and thousands of jobs, she’d built new schools and those are things that we wouldn’t see with the UCP coming into power. They’re looking at austerity measures, cutting programs, and giving tax breaks to the one per cent. That isn’t the majority of Albertans and those aren’t the people that really need the help. The rest of us are looking for a leader like Rachel Notley who’s going to help us all thrive.
To play the devil’s advocate to that, there’s a lot of focus on budgets, whether it provincial or federal, it could be well-said to say ‘we can’t be spending that much,’ that’s why they might look to a Conservative candidate. For someone who’s more budget-conscious, how do you appeal to them?
“That’s easy. As of today, the news is that $1.9B has been cut from the deficit since 2018, since the budget of 2018. So we’re doing a great job of dealing with our deficit and our budget. We have the best balance sheet of all the provinces. So I don’t think those are concerns. We have to invest in education, we have to invest in health care, we’ve had crumbling infrastructure, our communities can’t thrive with schools that are crumbling and those sorts of things. But at the same time, we are dealing with a deficit and I think we’re dealing with quite quickly.
Rachel Notley is going to speak to the Senate Committee about potential recommendations about Bill C-69. Bill C-69 has been a hot topic around here…how do you see the bill??
“I think there needs to be some changes to the Bill. Definitely, in order for the pipeline to go through for Albertans and Canadians. That’s what we need to look at. This is going to affect all of Canada in a good way. I’m so happy that the Premier is going to speak to the Senate Committee about this. She’s serious about the pipeline and has been working really, really hard for it. She’s going to continue fighting.
There will be some people who say…that the NDP have made Alberta not the best place to invest over the last few years or to continue that same sort of oilfield development. While on the one hand you can Rachel Notley she’s speaking on Bill C-69, she’s saying she’s really advocating for a pipeline, but some people still suspect that deep down that Notley and the NDP are not interested in getting that done.
“It’s simply not true. She’s invested a lot of time and effort in getting this pipeline built. She’s taken on other efforts to raise the value of our oil and to get fair value for it. She talks about that all the time that we need to get fair value for our oil. We’re shipping by rail, she’s also looking at diversification. As many jobs as possible – that’s what she’s looking at getting us.
What areas do you think are lacking that an NDP candidate would be able to help in this area?
“I think that oil is big. That is huge and creating jobs. I think that’s what the NDP has been doing, but they’ve been doing that by creating new schools. I happen to work in a new school that was built by this government and it was badly, badly, needed and those things were being ignored by previous governments. Health care? Really important as well. We do not want to go to privatization. We want our universal health care to continue.
What’s the one thing people should remember when they go the polls this election?
“They need to think about who’s fighting for them. They need to think about who has their best interests in mind. If we’re not one of those one percent then who has our best interests in mind. Those fighting for the things our families need. Good healthcare, quality education, jobs. Keep that in mind and the choice becomes very clear.