Blaine Calkins, Conservative Party of Canada (incumbent)
Current occupation: Member of Parliament for Red Deer – Lacombe
What are the three most pressing issues facing central Alberta residents, and how will you address them?
Bringing jobs and opportunity back to Central Alberta has to be the top focus. The past few years have been extremely difficult for Canadians, but especially so for those entrepreneurs with small businesses. Provincial public health measures have forced them to make impossible decisions, and they need our help to recover. We need to help rebuild the main streets across Canada, so that the “For Lease” signs can be replaced with “Help Wanted” ones. Conservatives are going to provide incentives to drive investment into small businesses in our communities, instead of into Wall Street or Bay Street. We are going to help encourage the hiring of new employees, even as we wind down the emergency support programs when it is the right time to do so. We’re also going to use tax tools to encourage Canadians to check out a new restaurant, or even an old favourite, as well as visiting some of the wonderful sights that Canada has to offer to help kick-start our tourism and hospitality sector.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic our communities have faced high unemployment. The Trudeau Liberal’s ideological attack on Alberta’s energy sector destroyed thousands of jobs in the oil and gas sector, and cost many more indirect jobs in industries and services that rely on the oil patch. Conservatives understand that we need an economic recovery in every region in the country, and in every sector. Conservatives are going to prioritize getting pipelines built, and create the regulatory certainty that businesses need to invest in projects in Canada once more by repealing the C-69, the No More Pipelines Bill and C-48 the West Coast Tanker Ban. We are going to work with First Nations and other indigenous groups to ensure that they are able to be partners in the prosperity that this vital sector brings.
Crime continues to be a major issue across Red Deer – Lacombe, much of it is fueled by organized crime. Conservatives are going to get tough on organized crime and those who use firearms for criminal activity. We are also seeing criminals increasingly go out to the countryside to target rural Canadians, where they know the police response time will be longer. In the last Parliament I introduced legislation that would, amongst other things, create an aggravating factor at sentencing for criminals who target rural Canadians due to their remoteness from emergency medical or police services. I am very happy that this policy has been adopted by the Conservative Party as a portion of its national platform.
A few more things …
Where were you born/raised? Where do you live now?
I was raised on a farm just outside of Lacombe. Now I live in Lacombe with my wife and three kids.
You have served in office before. What have you learned? Why are you running now?
The most important thing I have learned by running and serving as an elected official is the importance of compassion for the issues facing Central Albertans and treating constituents the way I want to be treated if roles were reversed. It is important to work hard, be authentic and know that regardless of the question before you, you can never go wrong if you’re sticking up for the people you represent. You are sometimes called upon to make difficult decisions, and sometimes there isn’t an obvious right or wrong answer, or the reactions you get from talking to residents are really mixed. When this happens, I have learned that when you really drill down to the brass tacks of the issue, one choice is going to be a net positive, or a greater net positive than the others. Not everyone is going to agree with every decision, but as long as you have done the work, thought about it carefully, spoken with the people you represent and ultimately do what you think is best you can stand behind your decision with confidence.
Why do you make a good representative for your constituents in the legislature?
It has been an honour to serve Central Albertans for the past 16 years. I was born and raised here, I know the issues that people care about inside and out, because they’re the issues that I and my family care about too. Throughout my time as a Member of Parliament I have developed the skills and the know how to deliver for our communities, and I remain as passionate about serving my neighbours today as I was when I was first elected.
Tell us a surprising or interesting fact or story about yourself.
In normal times, the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus holds an annual “Day at the Range” event, where parliamentarians and their staff can spend part of a day at an Ottawa gun range trying out various firearms in a safe atmosphere. I grew up on a farm and hunting, so firearms have always been part of a way of life in my family. So I was very pleased when I found out there was a competitive element to this event. I have the pleasure of being the undefeated and reigning champion at the trap shooting contest for Parliamentarians.
Notable past achievements/titles/jobs.
I chaired the legislative committee that was responsible for getting rid of the Wheat Board, and I chaired Sub-Committee of Finance for the Jobs, Growth and Prosperity Act, which in part enabled the Harper government to approve pipeline projects. I also Chaired the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics when it was looking into Trudeau’s illegal vacation.