ATHABASCA – A prominent member of the Take Back Alberta grassroots organization painted a bleak picture of Alberta’s future under the NDP during a small event hosted at the Athabasca Seniors Centre May 11.
Sylvestre, who runs a sporting goods store in Bonnyville, told the crowd of about 21 people that the NDP would take away their guns, jobs and many of their freedoms unless the UCP and Premier Danielle Smith are re-elected.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that if the NDP win this election, they’re going to take away our rights and freedoms,” said Sylvestre.
Unlike Take Back Alberta’s previous visits to Barrhead and Westlock on March 31 and April 1, Sylvestre was not joined by the group’s founder, David Parker, and instead delivered close to a 90-minute speech himself.
However, the script was still similar, as Sylvestre walked through his story, which he interlaced with fanciful claims about climate change, the United Nations, and vaccine policy.
Sylvestre told the audience how before the COVID-19 pandemic — which he referred to as “the darkness” — he was a man who didn’t care about politics but felt that something “just wasn’t right,” once the restrictions were enacted.
He talked about his journey from attending a 200-person meeting right after the lockdown was put in place, to starting Lakeland United, a community-focused group that aimed to pull the region together in the face of the pandemic restrictions.
In between those events, he touched on matters that clearly resonated with his audience. He talked about his son’s struggle with drug abuse, saying “Every time I see his wife’s name on my caller ID, my heartbeat speeds up.”
He then elaborated on the experiences of people in Bonnyville who he said had been vilified for not getting vaccinated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mostly commonly, he talked about fear, and about the dire state of the province as he saw it.
“When I was a boy, there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that if you worked hard, and made sacrifices, that you would be successful,” said Sylvestre, adding he finds himself believing that statement less and less each day.
Regarding Take Back Alberta’s involvement in the election, Sylvestre acknowledged that there’s not much work that needs to be done in rural Alberta, as the UCP will carry most if not all rural ridings unless something drastic and unforeseen happens.
The work that needs to happen is going to be in and around the cities of Calgary and Edmonton, with a bigger focus being on Calgary.
When an audience member asked, “How do we impact those ridings?” Sylvestre’s solution was simple: spread the word.
He said he believes that if supporters talk to a friend, and then that friend goes on and talks to someone else, it’ll make enough of a difference to sway some of the ridings that TBA is targeting.