Hello Chestermere! First of all I would like to give a shout out to a few organizations and people who just go out of their way to make our city better. I see them everywhere, and I know the amount of love and energy they put into our wonderful city. I would like to thank both the Rotary Club and the Lions Club. Not only do these associations have volunteers at every event, they donate dollars they have raised to Christmas with Dignity, to the skate park, and many other worthwhile initiatives both here and around the world. Rotary is well known for disaster relief and the Lions have brought the gift of sight to hundreds of thousands of people. Please check into becoming a member of one or both of these incredible associations or others that are active in our community. These small but mighty volunteer organizations have such a powerful impact on our communities, and I am honoured to work with them. I would like to thank City Council, Danielle Fermin, and all the amazing volunteers from City Hall and Chestermere who worked with such passion for Christmas with Dignity. Thank you to Tim Hortons for your presence (and coffee!!). You are always there at these events, and you and your team are such a gift to our city. Thank you. Christmas with Dignity was, as usual, not only a huge success, but it put us all into the Christmas Spirit, brought us all together, filled out hearts with warmth, and reminds us of how truly blessed we are. I was honoured to meet some of you for the first time, and thankful to get your feedback about what you believe will make our city even more vibrant and wonderful. Thank you for taking the time to chat as I can appreciate how busy everyone is this time of year. A special shoutout to the fantastic Chestermere High School Jazz Band and Musical Director Lael Johnston, and a huge hug and a ho ho ho! to Santa Claus (Don) and Mrs. Claus (Joanne), and special helper Jen Peddlesden. Our children and families are so lucky to have such beautiful spirits come and bring Christmas into our lives. You are truly wonderful. Finally, to Karen Mckee. Happy Birthday my dear friend, and more importantly thank you for your unending energy and the love that you put into our city. I would also like to the thank the Whitecappers for inviting me to their Christmas Dinner and sharing their friendship, conversation and great food.
Ok…so now we chat about Alberta, and Canada…take a deep breath. What do we know so far? Well let’s take a look at the week in review. In Grand Prairie, with a population of 63 thousand and change, 1500 people and a convoy of over 600 trucks showed up for a rally this past Sunday (including trucks from right here in the constituency of Chestermere-Strathmore) to show support for the incredible energy industry that is a big part of funding our schools, our hospitals, our roads and our social services. The question, “can they hear us?”, is more valid today than ever. Our country depends on Alberta, and we are an afterthought to the man that we are supposed to believe will lead us, our Prime Minister. Well, I’m not buying it, and we as a province are showing that we are not going to sit quietly as the Prime Minister offers us a chance to have more EI, or handouts! Albertans want to work, plain and simple. We want to be able to take care of our own, and we deserve the respect of our federal government. All Canadians do! Thank you to UCP Leader Jason Kenney who is leading the charge, and thank you to groups like the Oilfield Dads, Rally4Resouces, Canada Action, and Suits and Boots for their tireless advocacy of our natural resources and the hard-working Albertans who develop them. It is time to get rid of “no more pipelines” Bill C-69, and we need to be heard! We owe it to our future generations! I would like to speak about equalization as well. What is it and how does it work? It is a federal transfer given to provinces to help fund social services and programs. I am sure you have heard the terms “have and have not” provinces. The idea is that provinces give to provinces that are less prosperous to create a more equal ground, and “have” provinces are expected to pay. Quebec gets the lion’s share of equalization. You may be interested to know Quebec is running a big budget surplus. Alberta, with over 100,000 jobs lost, gets nothing from equalization and in fact Albertans have paid over $200 billion more than we have received from the Federal Government in the last 15 years. Trudeau has kept the formula the way it is until 2024 and even though Alberta is suffering Alberta receives nothing and Quebec will receive an extra $1.3 billion this year bringing the total to just over 13 billion. The formula needs to be fixed and we have been saying this to Alberta’s Finance Minister for over 3 years. He laughed at our questions about Alberta and our contribution to equalization payments, and said it was not a priority. I would have to disagree. Just to give you some context, the Finance Ministers of Canada and the provinces all met in June, and Minister Ceci did not defend our province. He did not stand up for Albertans in this discussion, and simply blamed previous governments for their past decisions. Alberta is generous, and we have been more than blessed here! We are happy to share our wealth when times are tough for other provinces. Now our people are suffering and Trudeau continues to not only bleed us dry, but handcuff us to the point that we can not even produce the very wealth that he distributes and takes credit for to provinces that will determine the outcome of the next election. Did you know that “have not” provinces can choose what to spend equalization payments on, and can choose not to grow their economies (think gas resources in Quebec for example). Quebec Premier Legault does not like our “dirty energy” but finds our money quite acceptable. This is patently unfair. Alberta has disproportionately carried the weight of Confederation on its shoulders, and yet even with that the Federal Government attacks us every chance they get. This baffles me. The average Canadian, no matter what province they live in, simply wants Canada to prosper so they can have a good life for themselves and their children. Alberta is a key part of that prosperity and it is time for us to state our case forcefully.
There are many ways we can handle this issue, and one of those ways is to work with other provinces. Jason Kenney has been meeting with many of the Premiers across our country to rally forces for many things, and that includes looking at the equalization formula. Let’s all work together to make sure we have a chance to make change. We can make this happen, and we can do that by working together as a province, as a people and for the betterment of ourselves and for Canada. We are proud Canadians, so let’s show the rest of the country how it’s done!
As you know a Provincial Election is expected this spring. I am honoured and humbled by the trust you have placed in me as your representative in Chestermere-Rocky View and I will be running for the UCP in the coming election in the new riding of Chestermere – Strathmore. You know where I stand on the issues and your support is vital to elect a Government that truly stands up for Albertans both here in Canada and abroad. I have lived, raised a family, run a business and volunteered in this Constituency for over 40 years and I share your vision for a better Alberta. Like you, I know the key to unlocking Alberta’s potential is giving people the freedom to do what they do best. Election campaigns depend on volunteers so if you can spare some time please contact VoteLeela@gmail.com or text 587-429-6465.
In closing, I am sure all of you have friends and neighbours that have fallen on hard times. You may be in that position yourself. When times get tough, Albertans stand up and help each other. Our Food Banks and other charitable organizations are facing unprecedented demand. Please help in any way you can. Remember, what you do for yourself dies with you, but what you do for others lives forever in their hearts. I wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and all the joys of family and friends this holiday season. Here’s hoping for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!