Current MLA Colin Piquette will seek the NDP nomination for the new Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock constituency, hoping to keep his Legislature seat after the provincial election expected in 2019.
Speaking to the Advocate Dec. 29, the current Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA said it has been a huge honour to represent his constituents in the legislature since 2015.
“I am grateful for having had the opportunity to represent the interests of my constituents during the current term,” he said. “Assuming I get the nomination, I hope the people of the new constituency will put their confidence in me for the next four years.”
The 49 year old was first elected to the legislature for the Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater constituency in 2015. Piquette defeated then-Tory cabinet minister Jeff Johnston by almost 1,800 votes as part of an NDP wave that ended almost 44 years of Progressive Conservative rule.
Piquette said he plans to register as a candidate for the nomination with Elections Alberta at the earliest possible opportunity.
He also said with the boundary changes, he knows that there will be a tough battle ahead of him during the upcoming election.
“I think we have a chance, but it will take lots of hard work,” Piquette said. “But Westlock was represented by a Liberal about 25-30 years ago, and Athabasca was considered a strong Tory bastion before I was elected. But being a small-c conservative seat does not automatically mean it will go UCP. I find the majority of constituents will vote for change when it benefits the community, not just for the sake of change.”
He added the campaign will offer a stark choice between two completely different visions from the NDP and the UCP.
“Do we want to move forward with the expansion and diversification of our resources with more value added to them, or do we continue to rely on a couple of commodities to keep our economies afloat,” Piquette said. “The NDP continues to diversify the economy to make it more resilient, while the UCP wants to turn back the clock. Our party hopes to ensure children have access to education and an opportunity to move on to post-secondary learning, as well as improve public health care and continue with innovative ideas like the $25-a-day daycare program.”
He added the vision of the Rachel Notley NDP contrasts considerably with those of UCP leader Jason Kenney.
“He keeps talking about the ‘summer of repeals,’” he said. “He’s already shown what he’s all about in how he approaches issues, and frankly, he’s been all over the map. He talks about rolling back safety regulations and consumer protections and massive cuts while under the same breath, he claims he agrees with some of what our party is already doing, and will only look at certain aspects of change. Mr. Kenney continues to contradict himself, and never provides numbers for his promises. Other opposition parties have presented alternative budgets, but the UCP has never done that once.”
Glenn van Dijken, the current MLA for Barrhead-Westlock-Morinville, was nominated to run for the United Conservative Party (UCP) in the new constituency July 14. But so far, Piquette said he has not heard of any other party putting forward a candidate as of yet.
“I would assume the Alberta Party will put somebody forward, as they did say they intend to run a full slate of 87 candidates,” he said. “Other than that, I would say this will likely be a battle between the NDP and the UCP. But if 2015 showed us anything, it’s that lots can happen in an election campaign, and it’s one reason why nobody should take any outcome for granted.”
Piquette said he hopes when the majority of the constituency, as well as the province, sees what the parties have to offer, they choose the vision offered by the NDP.
“In the end, it’s all about getting out and talking to the people,” he said. “That is especially important now that the boundaries have been redrawn, and why we can never assume anything. But one thing is for sure, no party owns any constituency anymore.”