By Stephen Dafoe
Barrhead – Ken Kowalski ended speculation Sunday afternoon he may not run in the next provincial election. The Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly told members of his constituency association and the media he would seek the nomination for the Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock PC Association for the next election, whenever that election may be.
“This is a decision that has been with me in my mind for a long period of time,” Kowalski told members of his association Sunday in Barrhead, adding he had indicated at the constituency association’s meeting earlier in the year that the prime consideration in the decision would be his wife Kristina’s health. Mrs. Kowalski had been diagnosed with a serious illness; however, her latest doctor visitations in early August indicate her illness is under control. “It’s very, very positive, and as each day goes by, she gets stronger, she gets more energetic and she has more enthusiasm than the day before. This is very, very good and very, very positive.”
With Mrs. Kowalski’s health improving, The MLA said he was faced with asking himself when it was an appropriate time to leave politics and when was it not an appropriate time to leave. Kowalski said he has discussed with many constituents the subject of retirement, particularly over the past four or five months. Many have told him he would know when it was time. Kowalski said his health is good, he still has energy and enthusiasm for the job as well as a commitment to continue on. For the veteran politician, the real question was did he want to do it again, a question he was able to answer in the affirmative. “I’d like you to know with no conditions and no equivocations that I intend on being the candidate for the contest to become the candidate for the PC Association of Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock in the next election, whenever that election will be,” Kowalski told party members. “I’m determined about this, and I appreciate all the advice I’ve received from people along the way with respect to this.”
The MLA said he really was unable to answer the question as to whether he wanted to retire and that a large part of him was not ready to call it a day. His wife’s improved health, his own desire to continue on, and some 500 signatures on a nomination form wanting him to run again prompted his final decision. “I love being an MLA, and I want to continue being an MLA in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta. So let’s go,” Kowalski said, adding he was not motivated by fear of the PCs losing his seat in the next election. “I’ve done this nine times. I’ve had leaders of other parties run against me. I’ve had all kinds of people run against me. I’ve never given consideration to who may be running against me. I’ve always focused on what I must do and what we have to do to give our message in a very positive way. I’ve never criticized anyone else unless they’ve attacked me personally. Then I will go, but for the most part that hasn’t happened. If there was a political consideration, well this is probably as good a time as any if I look at the polls.”
Taking things a little slower
Kowalski said if nominated by the association and re-elected to the legislature he would work as hard for his constituency as he has in the past, but he might trim the speed down a bit. “Something will happen though to the body that basically says you cannot go at Mach 12 with your hair burning all the time,” he said. “I’ve got to let you know, I’m going to put out the fire in the hair, and it may be Mach 10 instead of Mach 12, but the determination and everything else will be there. I just might not fly as fast as I did before.” Kowalski explained part of that slowing down would be to better coordinate some of his visits as MLA, perhaps giving him 10 hours days instead of 11.
Although planning to take things a notch slower, the MLA said it was premature to say if this would be his final term or not, given he had not yet received the constituency association’s nomination let alone won his seat in a future election.
Does not anticipate fall election
The Alberta Legislature is set to return Oct. 24, roughly three weeks after the PCs select their new leader. Kowalski said during that three weeks the new leader will either select their cabinet in preparation for the return to the Legislature or call an election. “I personally do not believe that’s going to be the scenario,” Kowalski said of the prospects of a fall election. “I personally do not believe that that’s going to happen as quickly as that.”
The PCs have risen significantly in recent polls. When Premiere Stelmach announced in January he would be stepping down, the party was polling 34 to 36 per cent. Recent polls show the PCs at roughly 54 per cent.