By Mariam Ibrahim, Edmonton Journal July 25, 2014
Photograph by: Gavin Young , Calgary Herald
As the Progressive Conservative leadership race heats up, the Journal brings you a weekly roundup of the major developments ahead of the first ballot, set for Sept. 6.
AN UNWELCOME ENDORSEMENT
After leadership hopeful Ric McIver landed himself in hot water last month for attending the Calgary March for Jesus — organized by the Calgary Street Church, known for anti-gay views — McIver distanced himself from the organization and apologized for “not doing his homework.”
The move didn’t stop the church’s controversial leader, Art Pawlowski, from offering McIver an official endorsement this week.
Pawlowski called the Calgary MLA a “good friend” who will stand up for “traditional Alberta values.”
McIver said on Twitter the endorsement wasn’t welcome and a spokeswoman said Pawlowski would have no part in the campaign.
SOUNDING OFF ON NEW SCHOOLS
Leadership contender and former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice continues to draw criticism from his rivals over a pledge he made to build an additional 40 to 50 schools on top of the Alberta government’s existing unfulfilled promise to build 50 and renovate 70 more. Both Thomas Lukaszuk and Ric McIver have said Prentice has no way of knowing what the right number of schools could be, but Prentice said this week the numbers aren’t “pulled out of the air.”
The former CIBC executive said he has a plan to have schools paid for within 15 years but wouldn’t commit to “arbitrary timelines” for their completion. Rival Thomas Lukaszuk said he would work to build as many schools as necessary as quickly as possible, but, like McIver, wouldn’t commit to a number. Lukaszuk questioned why a candidate would promise more schools if construction has yet to begin on the first 50 promised, calling empty school sites “fields of shattered dreams.”
CANDIDATES TACKLE FARM SAFETY
Alberta’s farm workers continue to be excluded under a handful of provincial labour laws, including occupational health and safety rules, but don’t expect that to change in the near future. Former premier Alison Redford promised three years ago to bring farm workers under the rules that govern other workers in the province, but since her resignation in March the pledge remains unfulfilled.
Critics have called on the three Tory leadership hopefuls to pick up Redford’s promise, but so far none has indicated a willingness to take on the task. Calgary MLA Ric McIver called the issue complex, saying he wouldn’t introduce any changes, while Edmonton MLA Thomas Lukaszuk said the province should work toward enhancing safety but not mandating new standards for farm workers. Jim Prentice said the answer is more education, but added the answer isn’t sweeping more workers under the jurisdiction of the Workers’ Compensation Board. According to the province, 447 farm workers died on the job between 1985 and 2010.