A former M.D. of Bonnyville Reeve will seek the United Conservative Party nomination for the Bonnyville-Cold Lake-St. Paul riding.
Greg Sawchuk, who was Reeve from 2017-2021, announced last Thursday his intention to run for the MLA position for the riding after the next UCP party leader is determined in early October. Previously, sitting MLA David Hanson confirmed he would be running again.
Sawchuk held a small meet and greet at Journey North Cidery outside of Bonnyville to share about his background, while fielding questions from the couple dozen assembled.
“The event tonight was not a necessary thing. A lot of folks will normally just put their paperwork in and allow the process to take place. I think a big part of what I’m running on is getting back to the people, getting back to listening to them, engaging with all groups,” Sawchuk told Lakeland Connect.
Originally hailing from Ontario, Sawchuk moved to work in Alberta in 1984. He was at 4 Wing as a flight engineer, before he started farming, saying he wanted to stay in the area.
His ambition into politics brewed over time after sitting on local boards like the North East Gas Co-op.
As Reeve, Sawchuk said he dealt with the province on issues almost every week, but came away from the process feeling unheard.
“There are a few things that really encouraged me. Obviously my experience at the M.D., knowing our interaction with our existing MLA, knowing what was going on with the province and feeling as though we weren’t being listened to.
“Then you pile on that when, I saw one video where we actually saw our MLA being applauded by the NDP. Well, that didn’t really sit well. The final thing that came into play was when I heard that with the Jason Kenney review, that they might be considering if he was successful, that they were going to parachute a candidate in here. And I said, there’s no way.
“We’ve got far too many good conservatives here in the riding to ever let that happen. And I believe somebody has to live and work in the riding to be effective. I’ve got the network and I have a passion to serve the people.”
Although Sawchuk did lose the recent M.D. election to Barry Kalinski, Sawchuk touted lowering the mill rate for non-residential businesses and adopting a small business tax class, a first for rurals in Canada.
He also talked about his role in the ID 349 settlement, which saw the Air Weapons Range absorbed into the M.D., and Bonnyville, Cold Lake, and Glendon receiving linear property taxes from the area on a per capita basis. He believes he was a key reason a deal was struck.
“It’s very clear on that one to me, that the people who were in the room that devised the agreement, were the chief elected officials for Glendon, Cold Lake, Bonnyville, their CAOs and deputies. There was no MLA, and then we hashed it out as municipalities. And those were the marching orders that were given to me by the Minister. And all the credit goes to the cooperation of the others,” he said.
Sawchuk railed against local health care delivery and the lack of doctors and nurses in the area, saying there’s been a decline over successive governments.
He said he saw the effect first-hand of when the NDP were in government and doesn’t want to see that happen again.
While it is unclear at the moment, Sawchuk is hopeful there will be nomination forums to engage the public.
“I am hoping for one or more forums. Because then, I think it gives the members — because it’s only the members that can vote on this — a good opportunity to see who could be the representative.”