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Separatist candidates run in St. Albert and Sturgeon ridings

A provincial separatist party is running three candidates in the St. Albert area.
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Dave Bjorkman, left, interim leader of the Alberta Independence Party and Virginia Bruneau, AIP candidate in Decore, speak on the front steps at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton on March 20

A provincial separatist party is running three candidates in the St. Albert area.

The Alberta Independence Party, which officially gained party status last week, is running Sheldon Gron in St. Albert, Mike Van Velzen in Morinville-St. Albert and Gordon McMillan in Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland riding.

The party, which originally formed in the early 2000s and was recently revived by current interim leader Dave Bjorkman, is running a province-wide campaign to have Alberta separate from the rest of Canada following a referendum. The party would also end equalization payments.

Bjorkman’s party is running 56 candidates in the upcoming election and said it is time the province separates.

“It’s always been the right time for Alberta to separate. It absolutely has to be done now,” Bjorkman said.

“We’ve taken too much abuse from Ottawa.”

Along with separation, the party wants to establish a provincial police force and kill the carbon tax. If elected, the party would take four years to transfer federal powers back to the province.

The party also has a dedicated First Nations director Virginia Bruneau, who said the party will help give First Nations their fair share of benefits from the economy that the country has been denying them.

“We have to stand up for our First Nations people (so) that they have an equal and fair say about the economy in Canada and around the world," Bruneau said.

Bjorkman, who was previously a welder by trade, said he is ready to debate the leaders of other provincial parties to show his ideas can stand up to scrutiny.

Gron, an oilfield worker who lives in Stony Plain, said he joined the party because he was feeling increasingly frustrated with Alberta's political scene.

“I just got tired of kind of waiting for somebody to step up and try to do something, and figured I might as well be that person,” Gron said.

The first-time candidate said Ottawa currently holds all the cards when it comes to Alberta and separating is “the only option.”

“There is no other route right now. We are backed into a situation ... that there is no coming back from,” he said.

“We can’t come back from our current situation because Ottawa’s interests don’t lie with Alberta.”

Morinville-St. Albert's Van Velzen said he has never run for office before but felt like he needed to jump in the race.

The boilermaker welder, who now works in the fashion industry, said there are other parties he could join that might be more mainstream but he liked the grassroots approach of the Independence Party.

“This is for the people, by the people,” the former Gibbons resident said.

“(This party) allows Albertans to have their power back and be able to have a more free lifestyle and more financial stability.”

Van Velzen lived in Gibbons for seven years and now resides in Lily Lake in Lac Ste. Anne County.

In the riding of Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland, McMillan said he decided to run because he is not happy with the way things are going in Alberta.

“I think people deserve a better option and we are that,” McMillan said.

The self-employed truck driver said the province's two main parties seem too similar to him.

McMillan wants elected officials to work for the people and not the party.

The Lac Ste. Anne-Parkland candidate said the biggest issue facing the riding is creating jobs and keeping the money in the province.

Jennifer Henderson

About the Author: Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson is the editor of the St. Albert Gazette and has been with Great West Media since 2015
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