If all the other Progressive Conservative Party associations were like that of Barrhead-Morinville-Westlock, Albertans would have no reason to doubt the party’s ability to govern them, according to one candidate in the PC leadership race.
Doug Horner, MLA for Spruce Grove-Sturgeon-St. Albert, was a guest speaker at the association’s annual general meeting on Feb. 25 in Barrhead.
“Every association across the province of Alberta should be like this one,” Horner said. “You are engaged, and you are communicating with your MLA and transferring our message to government. If we do that, Albertans will give us their trust to govern again, and we’ll make better decisions.”
Horner said there are too many headlines in the news about the party’s leadership, what the PCs are doing wrong, and not about what it is doing right, or what Alberta can be about in the future.
“That’s one of the reasons I decided to throw my hat in the ring, because I think this province has tremendous potential to be leaders in health care, energy and environment.”
He said his goal is to unite the party around its core values and principles. Unfortunately, the party has not always followed that path, he said.
“If we always base our decisions on those values and principles, we make very good decisions. However, for the past little while, we’ve been basing them on dogma, ideology and dollars. It’s time we went back to those values and principles.”
He told members at the AGM that he is very proud of the PC’s leadership and the party. But, the reason he became involved in politics is because he felt the system was broken. Barrhead-Westlock-Morinville MLA Ken Kowalski is a longtime family friend to Horner and his father. It was Kowalski’s guidance that brought him to the political arena.
“He told me if I thought it needed fixing, then I should run,” Horner said. “I think it needs to be fixed, and that’s why I’m here.”
Politics runs deeper in the blood of Horner’s family than his father serving as MLA prior to Kowalski. Horner said family research revealed his grandfather was a senator in Saskatchewan, he has had relatives from Quebec who were involved in politics 180 years ago, and two of his uncles were members of Parliament.
“It’s a genetic defect,” Horner joked. “My dad was very passionate about Alberta and its people. I grew up in small-town Barrhead, where my father instilled in my brother and all of us the desire to serve.”
Every generation of the Horner family has worn this country’s uniform, he said, himself included.
“Someone from the past four generations has served in some form of political capacity, because that is a value of the family. I’m proud to be able to carry it forward in a country that is as blessed as Canada and a province that can lead the nation and world in so many areas.”
Horner has many fond memories of his days growing up in Barrhead. Among them is his high school graduation day. He was named the emcee, and said he was nervous to the point of paranoid, and he forgot everything he had written down.
“It’s one of those memories you want to try to block, but I learned a lesson from that, and it was to try and be a little bit more prepared when you go up to a microphone to speak,” he said.
“There was a real sense of community in this town. Walking around the streets as a young lad, we didn’t have to worry about anything.
“You knew your neighbours, and they knew you.”
Horner was raised on a farm south of town, and it was that lifestyle that he said laid the foundation for his work ethic today.
“I am very proud to be an Albertan, and proud to say I was born and raised in Barrhead. I’m very proud of my father’s history and his commitment to service, not only as a country doctor, but also as a member of our legislative assembly and a member of Parliament.”
Kowalski said all leadership candidates have a grueling 35 weeks ahead of them, and they deserve a great deal of credit for putting themselves in this position.
“All of the candidates have put a lot of personal commitment into this,” Kowalski said. “It’s not an ego game, it’s a torturous 35-week campaign, and I really take my hat off to these people. We need a generation change, and this is the time for that change.”