The leadership race for the Wildrose Party is coming to a close and Drew Barnes, MLA for Cypress-Medicine Hat, said he believes he is in a good position leading up to the final votes being tallied next weekend.
According to a news release, Barnes did have a majority of support in a recent internal poll, but it included a small sample size of only 134 respondents. More than 20,000 party members are eligible to vote.
Barnes said the race has been enjoyable and he has been receiving a lot of positive feedback from Wildrose members.
Discussing what he thinks attributes to his success so far Barnes said, “The focus on the grassroots and the ability to listen to what members are saying. My history of showing good financial stewardship and members are telling me they can trust me because when the floor crossings happened, I absolutely refused to be involved in any way.”
Barnes said he was “absolutely shocked” when former party leader Danielle Smith crossed the floor to the PC Party last December along with eight other Wildrose MLAs. He said he was also asked to cross and he not only refused, but tried to talk his comrades out of the decision.
“I knew it was most important to honour the 442,000 that voted for us last election,” he said. “Honour our 23,000 members and volunteers and honour the system.”
He said he is dedicated to the Wildrose Party because he believes in the their policies and platforms of more efficient government, less bureaucracy and keeping taxes as low as possible.
“Those are things I believe in totally,” he said.
To enter the leadership race there were requirements of getting 250 signatures on the candidate’s nomination papers and raising a $20,000 deposit. Barnes estimates he got around 800 signatures in the first two weeks and raised about $90,000 in that time, which are both indicators of the support he’s been receiving.
If Barnes wins the leadership race he said he’ll be campaigning on areas like property rights, functional health care and restoring public faith in democracy.
“My platforms will be grassroots focused and they will talk about the things that are important. They will talk about financial responsibility. We have the most expensive per capita government in all of Canada right now,” he said.
“Our PC government spends the most, so a focus in the campaign will be more value for the taxpayer. We’ll be talking about utility rates, we’ll be talking about health care that works. We’ll be talking about property rights and we’ll be talking about restoring trust to democracy.”
Barnes also said if he’s elected, the Wildrose Party will be ready in case Premier Jim Prentice decides to call an election earlier than the fixed-election date. He’s confident the party will have good candidates that can present good choices for Albertans and will raise the necessary funds to run a good campaign.
“Shame on Prentice. When they wanted to stay in power three years ago they said they would only call an election every four years,” Barnes said. “Now that they see a different way so they can stay in power, they have come up with an illegal way to break an election law. Shame on Prentice for even discussing breaking this law.”
People interested can still vote for the Wildrose leadership until March 28 when the new leader will be announced at an event held in Calgary, Alta.