Business and community leaders say their introduction to local provincial candidates at a business lunch this week left something to be desired.
Candidates for the St. Albert and Morinville-St. Albert ridings gave their first pitch to members of the business community during the St. Albert and District Chamber of Commerce's lunch Wednesday.
Ken Macrae, a business owner, accountant and former chair for the chamber, said he appreciated the forum but it didn't provide him with enough informaiton to decide who he wants to vote for.
“I wasn’t that all impressed, but I don’t know if I was expecting all that much,” Macrae said.
“At the end of the day, they just kind of attacked each other and there wasn’t a lot to take away from it.”
The lunch featured St. Albert NDP candidate and incumbent MLA Marie Renaud, UCP candidate Jeff Wedman and Alberta Advantage Party candidate Don Petruka, as well as Morinville-St. Albert NDP candidate Shawna Gawreluck, UCP candidate Dale Nally and Alberta Party candidate Neil Korotash. Each had five minutes to introduce themselves.
Lisa Piche, manager at FYidoctors in St. Albert, said she wanted to hear more about the candidates' platforms and less about what the candidates didn’t like about the other parties.
“I felt like a lot of people were just focusing too much energy on what was negative about what the other (parties) were doing,” Piche said.
She will also be looking for more information from the candidates before she is ready to cast her vote this spring.
“I don't necessarily think I have enough information to make a decision,” she said.
John Farlinger, who owned Farlie Travel for 35 years, watched the candidates square off and said one thing business owners are concerned about right now is the increase to minimum wage. He added it is unlikely any party will address that if elected.
“I don't think that any party will have the nerve to rescind the minimum wage, but that's hurt a lot of businesses,” Farlinger said.
Aside from the minimum wage increase, Farlinger said businesses are concerned with how the carbon tax and overall increase in taxes have increased the costs of doing business. Farlinger said businesses would like to see their tax rates reduced.
Each candidate's comments reflected those of their party, he added, and the candidates toed their party lines when speaking to the crowd.
Overall, Farlinger said he found the speeches valuable.
“It was good to go and listen to them and hear what they had to say and what kind of people they were and so on,” he said.
Jennifer McCurdy, president and CEO of the chamber, said it is important for residents and business leaders to get to know candidates before the election.
“It's really important for our businesses and our residents to have an opportunity to meet the candidates,” McCurdy said, adding once the writ is dropped there is a very short period of time to interact with them.
When the chamber invited the candidates to speak, it asked them to focus on four topics, which were put together by the Alberta Chambers of Commerce.
Those topics included strengthening business competitiveness, growing provincial trade, builiding healthy communities and improving government accountability.
St. Albert Green Party candidate Cameron Jefferies and Morinville-St. Albert Green Party candidate Cass Romyn were not in attendance, nor was St. Albert Liberal Party candidate Kevin MacLean.