By Morinvillenews.com staff
Red Deer – Approximately 800 Wildrose Alliance members gathered in Red Deer over the July 25 weekend for the party’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), an opportunity to vote on a number of proposed resolutions and to hear the party’s leader Danielle Smith speak about the future of the Wildrose Alliance.
Smith told party supporters that the Wildrose Alliance is polling first or second place in every poll and that with the addition of Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo MLA Guy Boutilier to the caucus, the party will return to the Alberta Legislature this fall with four members. Boutilier was ejected from the PC caucus last summer and is the latest former conservative MLA to join the Wildrose Alliance.
“We will be an official party,” Smith said, sarcastically adding the caveat that that will be the case unless Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA Ken Kowalski, Speaker of the Alberta Legislature, finds some way to change the rules to prevent it. “So far he’s interfered with us every step of the way. He prevented us from getting a fair distribution of questions in question period. He blocked us in trying to get fair caucus funding. He’s even nitpicked over whether my picture is allowed to be on our caucus website.”
The Wildrose leader was critical of Kowalski, stating that he needs to remember that his job is to serve the interests of all Albertans and to ensure that there is fair representation and debate in the Legislature. Recently, the party’s request for $233,000 in caucus allowance was turned down by the Committee on Members’ Services, a committee that Kowalski chairs.
However, Smith was quick to point out that it is her belief that Premiere Stelmach has given the Speaker permission to run rough shod over Alberta’s democracy.
“Ed Stelmach and the PCs do not respect democracy,” Smith told her audience. “That is why so many people are joining our party.”
Smith went on to say that she believes the PC party’s pettiness is an attempt to take her party’s focus off the issues important to Albertans: energy, environment, health care, education and balancing the province’s books.
The leader said Stelmach’s party has been sending thinly-veiled threats to town and country councils, as well as school boards, suggesting that provincial funding will not be delivered unless municipalities and boards support the government.
“Who among us expected to see a time when Albertans would be afraid of their own government,” Smith asked her party supporters. “It is wrong and it must stop and we’re going to see to it that it does stop.”
Smith said in her talks with Albertans, since being elected leader last fall, people are telling her they are fed up with political elites telling them what is good for them and fed up with having socialists and liberals masquerading as conservatives.
But some of the Wildrose Alliance’s more right-winged policies proposed for the AGM did not make the final cut, indicating a slight shift towards the centre on some Wildrose policies.
The party’s membership voted against resolutions to give Albertans unequivocal rights to own firearms, support for nuclear power in the province and striking out Section 3 of the Alberta human rights code, opting on the latter to change the act to unequivocally protect freedom of speech freedom of the press.
Resolutions that passed member scrutiny included examining the idea of a provincial police force, giving workers the option to opt out of unions and drafting a constitution for Alberta.
The AGM was Smith’s first since being elected leader of the party last fall. Party members who attended the AGM were largely satisfied with her less-than-year-long performance. A mandatory leadership review returned a 97.5 per cent approval rating for the leader.