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MLA Roger Reid to again put forward name for Livingstone-Macleod

Friday, 14 October 2022. Posted in Shootin' the Breeze

MLA Roger Reid to again put forward name for Livingstone-Macleod

MLA Roger Reid to again put forward name for Livingstone-Macleod
By Sean Oliver
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

There’s rarely a dull moment in politics, but often the news on the political stage seems to happen somewhere else. Last spring, however, provincial news hit close to home when former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith announced she was looking to re-enter politics by seeking the United Conservative Party nomination for Livingstone-Macleod.

At the time, current MLA Roger Reid said he intended to seek re-election in 2023 and welcomed the chance for a robust nomination process. What the 2023 provincial election would bring for Reid became increasingly unclear as Smith entered — and eventually won — the UCP leadership race.

“I’ve just been sitting for a couple months waiting to see what the options were,” Reid says.

Fortunately, the first caucus meeting Smith held on Oct. 7 offered immediate clarity: the premier-designate will run in a byelection in Brooks-Medicine Hat after the current MLA, Michaela-Frey, announced she was resigning.

Although Smith lives in High River, under the Elections Act candidates are not required to reside in the riding they represent. Despite the riding of Calgary-Elbow currently being vacant, Smith has indicated she wishes to represent a rural riding to let all of rural Alberta know their views will have a voice in the top office of the legislature.

The arrangement, says Reid, has simplified what re-election will look like for him.

“I’m happy that’s become clear for me, and I'm looking forward to continuing to serve, and hopefully we get an opportunity to do that for another four years,” he adds. “The realities are the premier has a lot of things on their plate, so those concerns get dealt with in a different way than in a normal situation.”

The news comes just as Reid was in the midst of his Coffee With Your MLA tour, which saw him travelling throughout the constituency to talk with constituents, over coffee in local cafes, about what’s important to them.

So far, the MLA has averaged two communities a week, visiting High River, Claresholm, Fort Macleod, the Hut in Pincher Creek and Cherry on Top Bakery and Koffie Shop in Crowsnest Pass, with Longview and Nanton scheduled for this week. 

“I’m working to be as present as I can be in a large riding,” Reid says. “Establishing a rhythm is one of my goals.”

Coffee With Your MLA visits had been cancelled the past two years due to the Covid pandemic, so being back out visiting with constituents in-person is a welcome change, he adds.

“It’s been a fantastic summer being out and about again — it was tough doing this job over Zoom,” he says. “The advantage of these coffee visits is the ability to have casual conversations with people and hear what is on their mind and on their hearts. You can host town halls, but not everyone might be comfortable getting up and speaking in that setting.”

Two major issues consistently brought up by constituents in every community, Reid continues, are affordability with recent inflation and health care in rural Alberta.

Although the government has been offering electrical and natural gas rebates and has stopped collecting provincial taxes on fuel, Reid says further discussions need to occur on how to address the transmission and distribution charges on energy bills.

“We can all do things to reduce our consumption, but those distribution and transmission charges — there’s nothing consumers can do about them,” he says.

Helping alleviate those charges in a responsible way through the recent windfall and extra revenue in the provincial budget, he adds, are things the government will consider. 

As for ensuring sustainable, reliable and responsive health care in every community is a problem that would take time to fix.

“We have some systematic issues that have existed for a long time that need to be addressed,” says Reid. 

Some potential strategies the MLA wants to pursue are measures to help more rural students attend medical school, such as opening additional seats at the University of Alberta and University of Calgary and finding ways to fund students who face financial barriers. 

Current conversations about enabling Alberta students who train internationally in places like the United States, Australia and Ireland return home to practise, Reid continues, is another potential strategy.

“I’m really optimistic with the work Mr. Copping [the minister of health] has been able to do with that,” he says.

The next session of the legislature will reconvene Oct. 31.