Wildrose opposition leader Brian Jean made Sylvan Lake one of the first stops on his month-long tour of Alberta last week, and traversed both water and land in his attempt to obtain every possible perspective of the town.
Piloting his own jet boat during an outing on the lake last Thursday, Jean pointed out that the perspective of Sylvan Lake from the water is much different than that from land. He assured that, during his tour, he wants to take in as many different perspectives of the province as possible.
“I want to listen to Albertans and find out what their priorities are, and be clear in relation to what they want us to fight for in the future,” he said.
Jobs and the economy have made up most of the concerns he said he’s heard so far. He said he’s also well aware of Sylvan Lake’s need for an urgent care facility, and for enhanced health care access in areas throughout the entire province.
“Health is our primary concern with the entire province — it’s 46 per cent of our budget, and it’s not being managed efficiently,” he said. “There is a real need here for emergency care and a good facility that will serve the needs of the people.”
Following a boat trip around the lake in the afternoon, Jean was joined by Innisfail-Sylvan Lake MLA and fellow Wildroser Don MacIntyre for ice cream at the Big Moo, before the pair hosted a potluck meet-and-greet at Centennial Park in the evening.
The two form a working relationship Jean said he’s enjoying being part of.
“(MacIntyre) is a very hard worker, and I think the people of his riding can be very proud of the work he’s done so far,” he said. “My expectation is in the future it’s only going to get better.”
On recent suggestions that the right in Alberta should be reunited, Jean said, “I did not get chosen by the membership to throw a lifeline to the PC Party.”
On last week’s call of a September byelection in the Calgary-Foothills riding, he expressed disappointment.
“I think that the premier has an obligation to the people of Alberta to pick the best time based on what’s best for Albertans, and not to interfere in a federal election, and I think that we see the same thing being done with the budget,” he said. “They’re waiting until the federal election is done, because they don’t want Albertans and the rest of Canadians to see exactly what they’re going to do with this fiscal and social experiment in Alberta.”
During his outing on the lake, Jean also reflected on everything from his newly increased profile within the province (“I go down the street now and I feel like a movie star”), to his love of the outdoors (“This is where I feel the most at home”), and provided a less-than-subtle endorsement of Stephen Harper in his bid for re-election as Prime Minister.
“I’m going to vote for Stephen Harper, and I will work hard in this election to help him,” he said. “I don’t know of anybody that works harder than the Prime Minister.”