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Friday , 5 August 2022

Brian Jean visits Bonnyville as UCP membership deadline looms

Residents get intimate time with the man who could be the next premier. 

As Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul MLA David Hanson puts it, it’s an opportunity for residents to vote in a Premier from northeast Alberta.

UCP leadership hopeful and MLA for Fort McMuray-Lac La Biche Brian Jean was at The Players Lounge in Bonnyville for a few hours on Wednesday evening to meet and greet with residents and face questions they would have about his bid to be the next Premier.

There are seven candidates in the race with Jean, Danielle Smith, and Travis Toews as the polling frontrunners at the moment.

In an interview with Lakeland Connect, Jean was asked about his campaign slogan “Autonomy for Albertans,” some of his policy suggestions, health care, and the World Economic Forum.

“What’s important is that what happened behind us stays behind us, and what goes forward, stays in front of us, and it’s better days for Albertans. We want to focus on uniting the UCP. And getting people focused on the direction of taking on the NDP in just 12 months or so,” said Jean. 

Jean is being endorsed by MLA Hanson, who have close ties together as Hanson was a Wildrose MLA when Jean was party leader.

“I look at what’s best for our region. We have a very unique opportunity to have a premier from northeastern Alberta, who understands our area, who understands rural Alberta, and understands what we go through on a daily basis, understands the oil and gas industry,” said Hanson.

“To me, I think every person in the northeast part of the province should buy a membership and vote for a premier from up here. It would be an awesome opportunity.”

Elk Point will be having Jean at the Allied Arts Theatre in Elk Point from noon until 5:00pm.

Autonomy for Albertans 

“Autonomy for Albertans means, first of all, that it is for Albertans, not for Alberta. That’s the first distinction. It matters because I’m talking about autonomy for Albertans as far as my body, my choice, that means no more lock downs, it means, legislative responsibility afterwards, for future leaders that are bound to certain things, so they’re discouraged from doing lockdowns in the future,” said Jean. 

“Autonomy for our healthcare, autonomy for our communities, which means whether you’re a Christian or a Sikh or Muslim or an unbeliever, you have autonomy, or the opportunity to do what you want to do, which ultimately means your values, your priorities, what you consider as important for your family. The same as autonomy and education, more choice in education, more opportunities for people to have autonomy of decision making, and more autonomy for Albertans within Canada, it also means we stay in Canada, but we fight every step of the way what’s going on in Ottawa and make sure that we hold both Quebec and Ottawa to task.”

Re-opening Constitution 

“Equalization is merely a tool to open up the constitution, so we can talk about all the other things we need to talk about. How come in the original contract, we were able to send goods and services across other provinces, but we can’t now. We need to open up the constitution to have ramifications for those provinces try to block us on that, we need to make sure we have an elected Senate, or at least Senator representation in Ottawa from Alberta, with the ability to block legislation that is going to be biased towards one province or another, like the tanker ban on the west coast, we need to immediately appeal that decision to the Supreme Court of Canada, ask for a reference on that and deal with it,” said Jean. 

“How do we do all that? Well, under Section 46 of the Constitution, you can serve notice of what happened in the referendum, which is a clear vote by a clear majority of the population in a clear question, and that’s what the Supreme Court of Canada has to have in any case such as this, and that’s exactly what took place. We had that referendum, now we have that mandate to give notice under Section 46, legal notice that we want to open up the Constitution.”

Relief from distribution fees, gas prices

Jean is looking at taking budget surpluses to lower costs that Albertans are seeing on their power bills.

“I know firsthand how expensive it is to have electricity. I do live in rural Alberta and so I can tell you the the distribution and transmission charges are usually 50 per cent of the bill, sometimes more. We need to try to alleviate that cost on Albertans. And how I propose to do it is taking the surpluses, putting them in the bank collecting about six or seven per cent interest per year, taking that money, which would work out to about $1.8 billion on about $30 billion in surplus, which we can accomplish in about two to three years, and that money would go to alleviate Albertans in about a third of the cost,” he said. 

Jean would also look to cap the profits fuel providers can make during these times of high inflation.

“I really think what we need to do is do what other provinces have done, have legislation in place that if we have to, we can immediately stop that gouging and force  gas stations to go down to something that is more reasonable. And then when they get down there, leave it on for a little while and take it away. So that it can be a competitive market.

People are deciding whether or not to put food on the table or to go take their kids to school or go to work. That’s not reasonable. People are really suffering right now. And the best thing we can do is lower gas prices, diesel prices, because that’ll lower the cost of food, it’ll lower cost of groceries, appliances, everything in Alberta will get less expensive because of fuel prices.” 

Health care 

“It’s shocking and unacceptable. I lost my son to health care only a few years ago, it seems like yesterday, people never get over that kind of loss as a result of negligence in the health care system. There are people suffering, we need to fix it. 

“With the series of things happened with shutdowns and mandatory vaccinations, and all of those discussions, people felt the divisiveness between communities and you can’t build a good healthcare system on the basis of something like that, there has to be the opportunity, I think, for autonomy within the healthcare system. That doesn’t mean privatization, it just means more options and more places and empowering the people. 

There is no reason why we can’t utilize our facilities much, much more than we are. We should aim for 100 per cent utilization even though it’s impossible. The truth is, we should aim for there because that’s the only way we’re going to get rid of the backlog and be encouraged to to move forward our healthcare system into something that’s actually going to work on.

“People that know me recognize that healthcare drives me to want to be the premier because I think nothing’s more important right now and making sure we have people happy and healthy and take care of our seniors.” 

World Economic Forum

Jean was accused of promoting conspiracy theories when he said on Twitter to reject the Great Reset, was not a globalist, and has never gone to the World Economic Forum.

He was asked how he responds to the claim he was appealing to the far right.

“I was asked a lot of questions on social media about it. And people kept asking me if I was part of the WEF, or I went to the meetings, etc. And I wanted to clarify comments that people were putting on that were false. 

“If you go on the internet, you can find the WEF and it’s not a conspiracy theory when they actually talk about their relationship with cabinet ministers and how they see the world unfolding. That is not a conspiracy theory. That is how they see the world unfolding. So I reject that, I reject that entirely. I think the idea of personal property and individual ownership of businesses and assets is the best kind of economy. That’s what makes people happy. That’s what makes people healthy. And that’s what makes people wealthy.” 

Deadline to buy UCP membership August 12

While the next Premier won’t be selected until October 6, the deadline to buy a UCP membership — which allows you to vote in the leadership race — is August 12.

Former cabinet ministers Rebecca Schulz, Rajan Sawhney, Leela Aheer and MLA Todd Loewen round the full roster of candidates.

Candidate Travis Toews will be in Vermilion on Monday night to talk with residents.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.