R.F. Staples School principal and Dapp native Wayne Rufiange has joined what’s become a three-man race to represent the newly-formed Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock riding in the yet-to-be announced provincial election.
Following his failed bid in January to gain the Alberta Party nomination in the Morinville-St. Albert riding, Rufiange, who lives in St. Albert, received the Alberta Party’s OK to run in Athabasca-Barrhead-Westlock March 5.
Meanwhile, the fledgling Alberta Independence Party has put forward Rochester’s Buster Malcolm as its candidate, while United Conservative Party’s Glenn van Dijken, the incumbent Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock MLA, earned his nomination last July with 70 per cent of the vote.
Current Athabasca-Sturgeon-Redwater MLA Colin Piquette had been slated to run under the NDP banner, but withdrew from the race in February.
“I believe the new UCP party would take us back to what the old PCs did and that will not set us up for the future,” Rufiange said.
“I feel the Alberta Party gives us something better to vote for, as opposed to just simply voting against something, like in 2015. That’s not ... where we should be at.”
He said at this point, there is no middle ground in Alberta politics.
“If the NDP says one thing, the UCP says something different,” Rufiange said. “There is no credit to any intelligence on any side, and that’s a problem.
“If we want to make Alberta better, then let’s work on those good ideas instead of wasting energy just arguing that we should do something different.”
The Alberta Party currently has three MLAs in the Legislature and Rufiange recognizes he faces an uphill battle.
“Right now, there is no Alberta Party constituency association in the area,” he said. “I am literally starting off with absolutely nothing. It’s a daunting task, but I am fortunate enough that I can take time off work to go out and campaign.”
Malcolm said the party’s central plank is to separate the province from the rest of Canada and become an independent nation.
Malcolm, who filed his paperwork with Elections Alberta March 6, said he first became interested in politics in 2015 when Justin Trudeau’s Liberals took power in Ottawa.
“Work in general has diminished because of the policies of his government,” he said. “I myself have worked at the service rigs for more than 30 years, having worked my way up to consultant. For the past year, work has been sketchy for me, and that’s after already having bounced around different jobs for the previous four years due to the faltering economy.”
The 54-year-old originally hailed from Fort McMurray, and spent his formative years in Redwater. He first moved to the Athabasca region about 20 years ago, an area he still calls home today.
“It’s our hope that the Alberta Independence Party forms government,” Malcolm said. “Assuming that happens, the first thing an AIP government would do is hold a separation referendum, which if successful will put an end to equalization payments, the GST as well as the much-maligned carbon tax. That one continues to bleed into all aspects of Alberta life, including farmers, the oil patch, as well as even the hospitality industry.”
He added that overall, it will be a four-year transition period to divorce Alberta from the rest of Canada, assuming a yes vote succeeds.
“We would do a complete rebuild of the laws and constitution by Albertans alone,” Malcolm said. “That includes for currency and for Alberta’s potential military. Alberta would also assume its share of the federal debt upon separation, and will see all federal assets within the province be turned over to Alberta, following some negotiations of course.”
Even before they separate, he said an AIP government would bring in its own police force to replace the RCMP.
“It would be easier to start from scratch instead of just expanding the role of the Alberta Sheriffs,” Malcolm continued.
“As well, Alberta would not be the first province to have such a police force, as there is also the Ontario Provincial Police, the Sûreté du Québec as well as the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary.”
Malcolm said on top of that, Alberta would immediately have a $15-billion surplus upon leaving Confederation.
But, he added, the first step is to get the party officially registered.
“Currently, all AIP candidates must run as an independent candidate, as the party needs about 44 candidates to be registered with Elections Alberta to formally be recognized,” Malcolm said. “Since the beginning of March, 15 candidates have now filed their papers.”
He said in his case, each individual candidate needs 30 signatures from residents on their nomination papers in order to run.
“I got that in just two-and-a-half hours of door-knocking,” Malcolm said. “About 50 per cent of the doors I knocked on saw their residents sign my papers, so that shows that our party’s message is starting to resonate.”