No public caucus support liberating: Lukaszuk
PC leadership candidate Thomas Lukaszuk stops to chat in St. Albert
Friday, Jul 18, 2014 04:45 pm
Thomas Lukaszuk says running for the Progressive Conservative party leadership without any public support from his fellow caucus members is freeing.
“It’s a liberating experience in a way because I get to paint on a blank canvas and present my vision of the province without being encumbered in any way,” Lukaszuk said in an interview Tuesday shortly after he met with seniors in St. Albert.
Lukaszuk, the MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs and a St. Albert resident, said he’s gotten some private support from his caucus colleagues.
“I’m getting a lot of support actually even from those who have declared to be supporting someone else. It’s interesting dynamics but that’s not unusual,” Lukaszuk said. Most of the PC caucus has publicly endorsed Jim Prentice’s campaign.
The visit to local seniors happened on the same day Lukaszuk released the social policy portion of his platform, which calls for better access for child care spaces, senior care, improving mental health supports and other access and quality issues.
The social policies are part of what Lukaszuk finds Albertans want to talk to him about while he’s on the campaign trail: quality of life, everyday issues.
“I wouldn’t call them nigglies, cause they’re big issues, but they’re everyday issues. And that is one area that I think we need to pull up our socks,” Lukaszuk said.
Lukaszuk thinks a focus on social services and quality of life issues is needed to retain Alberta’s growing population.
“If we want to build a province that’s not a work camp … we need to start focusing moreso on the issues of everyday quality of life. That’s what Albertans demand and that’s a wise investment into the province,” he said.
Albertans expect whoever wins to spend some time finding new markets for oil and gas, Lukaszuk said.
“It’s a given that we need to find new markets for our commodities,” he said, adding he’d like to find new markets for other products, like Alberta’s raw agriculture exports and food processing products.
When it comes to economic development, Lukaszuk is looking to diversify industry. He said we do need to nurture the resource industries but need to be environmentally aware as well.
The presumed front runner in the race is former federal cabinet minister Prentice, but Lukaszuk dismissed the notion of a front-runner.
“There is no such thing as a presumed front runner. The fact is this is all about selling memberships,” he said. “This is a real race and at the end of the day Albertans will make a decision who they find has the best experience, is most in tune with Albertans, who has the most provincial experience and intuitively understands the issue, who doesn’t have to study everything and be briefed on everything.”
He said any presumption of a winner is an affront to the process.