Frustrated by what he believes is a lack of rural representation in government, the now independent former UCP MPP Drew Barnes released a discussion paper that suggests forming a political party that would only have seats than in rural Alberta.
“Let’s face it, UCP was a great idea on paper that didn’t work in practice,” Barnes wrote.
“Under Jason Kenney, the party turned away from the rural values and policies that propelled the UCP to victory in 2019.”
Barnes was kicked out of caucus, along with Todd Loewen, in May for repeatedly denouncing government decisions. He now believes the best way forward for rural Albertans is a self-governing party running in the 41 ridings outside of Edmonton and Calgary, ensuring the party abandons its principles in a race for urban votes.
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“I was kicked out of caucus for simply voicing the views of my constituents,” Barnes told Global News.
“People everywhere in rural Alberta told me they felt like no one was protecting them, that their voices and ideas were not being heard.
Barnes envisions the party being in the same mold as the former federal Reform Party, or the Provincial Wildrose Party, a banner he was elected under in 2012 and 2015. He says the people he talks to don’t want to see another NDP government, but also does not feel comfortable with the UCP, so it wants to give them an alternative.
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Barnes knows the split-vote arguments will be made, but as it stands, he sees the NDP on the road to majority government unless something changes, and he thinks a rural presence in the legislature could prove to be a powerful force.
“If you don’t vote for what you want you will never get it, so let’s take the risk of voting for what we want.”
Barnes says the idea is still in the discussion stage.
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