Starke to challenge for leadership

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October 4, 2016 12:00 AM

'M IN! MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster, Richard Starke, announced he'll be running for Alberta Progressive Conservative Party leadership at a press conference last week.

Richard Starke, MLA for Vermilion-Lloydminster, announced his intentions to run for leadership of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party on Thursday, a move that if elected, could see him gunning for the top spot of premier in the 2019 provincial election.
“So what is driving me to take this step? The Alberta I once knew was a place—always a place—of unlimited opportunity; it was Canada’s economic engine and it was a place where people dreamed big and they set out ambitious goals,” Starke told reporters, during a press conference at the Hampton Inn.
“Since May of last year, all of that has changed; we’ve watched as Rachel Notley and the NDP government have reshaped our province in their own vision, it’s a process that’s resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of jobs that has affected hundreds of thousands of Albertans.”
Starke, who was elected MLA for a second term the same time Notley rose to power, said he’s crisscrossed the province and heard many Albertans tell him “loud and clear” they want their Alberta back.
He added the people he’s spoken to told him they’re proud of what the province has accomplished as a responsible energy producer, and don’t buy it when the NDP says Alberta should be embarrassed of its environmental record, because citizens know responsible energy development and environmental protection aren’t mutually exclusive.
Farmers and ranchers were also among the demographics the leadership hopeful touched on, saying the ones he talked with felt misrepresented when the current government accuses of not caring about safety within operations.
Alberta farmers and ranchers are proud of their legacies, he said, and how the fruits of their labours produce delicious and wholesome food sought after the world over.
Another issue that’s prompted Starke’s attempt to take the provincial reigns involve the NDP’s approach to business, and how the government may be driving jobs to other provinces.
“With the NDP now raising taxes and raising costs, they created economic uncertainty that is closing businesses and chasing investment and innovation out of Alberta; right here in Lloydminster we literally see jobs being moved across the border to a province with a business friendly government,” Starke said.
“The NDP have effectively exported the Alberta advantage to Saskatchewan—our friends, our neighbours, our loved ones are losing their jobs, their losing their homes, and are losing their hope.”
The MLA said he has a few qualities that might give him an edge against the other PC leadership contenders, like the fact he’s a current sitting member of the Legislature, which is an important one because the party wants a leader that can be active in government prior to the next election, to ask difficult questions and hold the current regime to account.
Starke also has experience in business, with nearly three decades as owner of a veterinary clinic, growing his practice from just three vets and two employees to eight vets and more than 25 staff on his payroll.
He said having practical experience outside the political realm gives him a leg up because he understands the challenge of being in a business environment and creating jobs.
“I know about the struggles and the challenges of building business and I know what it takes to build that trust and that faith in order to expand your sphere of operations, so I think those are two things are important (and) I think that fact that I’ve served in government, as well as in opposition, is a big advantage,” he said.
“It means I understand the challenges on both sides of the Legislature, and quite frankly, it means right now I’m watching this current government with the struggles their facing and the way they’re approaching things, and we’re learning every single day—we’re learning about mistakes that we shouldn’t make.”
Starke’s ultimate goal is to lead a newly elected and refocused PC party into the 2019 election, and he said he believes that party will present a vision for Alberta that’ll reestablish the trust of Albertans, inspiring citizens with a vision of hope, optimism and opportunity for them and their children.
The PC Association of Alberta leadership election happens in Calgary on March 18, 2017, and other politicos vying for the leadership spot as of press time are Donna Kennedy–Glans, Byron Nelson, and Jason Kenney.

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