The Fort Saskatchewan and Lamont Regional Chamber of Commerce held a candidate forum for MLA candidates for Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville. 

All five candidates met on Wednesday (May 17) evening at the Dow Centennial Centre, with Ian McCormack serving as the moderator of the event. Hundreds of residents were in attendance.

The panel featured opening statements from each candidate before a Q&A session, which led to their closing arguments.

Topics brought up throughout the night included healthcare, Indigenous reconciliation, infrastructure, affordable housing, rural internet, education, taxes, and the idea of a provincial police force.

Here is a look at how each candidate handled themselves during their first forum together. 

Jackie Armstrong-Homeniuk - United Conservative Party

Armstrong-Homeniuk has been the MLA of Fort Saskatchewan-Vegreville since 2019 and currently serves as the parliamentary secretary for Ukrainian refugee settlement. 

Jackie spoke about strengthening the police force in Alberta, making sure that Albertans receive free healthcare and the project on Veterans Way in Fort Saskatchewan.

"It's very important that people understand the industrial heartland is the actual heartland of Alberta. Many people from across the province travel through [Fort Saskatchewan] on a daily basis and it's not fair that the city and you taxpayers have to pay for it all," said Armstrong-Homeniuk. "I will continue my advocacy for Veterans Way as I feel it is most important to the city."

Taneen Rudyk - New Democratic Party

Rudyk served four terms as a councillor for Vegreville before deciding to try for the position of MLA. She stepped down as president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to pursue her candidacy.

Rudyk stands against a provincial police force and supports building more schools.

"For far too long we haven't had representation for FortSaskatchewan-Vegreville in a way that's meaningful and productive," said Rudyk. "This is a city that's booming with opportunity and prospects, and yet as I'm walking around, there are a lot of people who are struggling, too."

Rudyk also stressed the importance of supporting the healthcare system in Alberta. 

"[The hospitals] need a properly staffed healthcare system and deserve an expansion of their infrastructure." 

Kathy Flett - Independent

Flett is an independent candidate who is using her spite for politics as fuel for her own political career. She believes in basing policy on public opinion. 

Flett spoke about the importance of keeping in touch with communities, and how vital infrastructure is to Fort Saskatchewan.

"If we don't keep up with [infrastructure], we're going to pay for it. That would be my mantra going into the legislature. I would make sure that everything is here so that you could grow safely and efficiently."

'Granny' Margaret Mackay - Solidarity Movement of Alberta

Mackay, who is known by the name 'Granny' among peers, is running for public office for the first time as a representative of the Solidarity Movement of Alberta.

"I'm showing Albertans that even a grandmother can step into the political world," said Mackay. "I'm a firm believer that one must lead by example, because if not you, then who?" 

Mackay answered many questions admitting her lack of knowledge on the subjects and stressed the importance of learning.

"We need to educate the children, start with the children, and as the children grow there won't be a grandma standing in the front here not knowing the answers to questions," said Mackay to laughter in the audience.

Kelly Zeleny - Advantage Party of Alberta

Zeleny is one of the founding members of the Advantage Party of Alberta, which was formed back in 2016. She is also a nurse, rancher, 4-H leader, and community volunteer.

Zeleny opened her statement with a monologue about her problems with the current government.

"I've been involved with many political parties and I can say they're different but they're all the same," said Zeleny. "I want to create a system where politicians are held accountable because they've been hired to do a job. If they don't do their job appropriately, they shouldn't be made a minister, they should lose their job."

"Continuing voting for the winning parties consistently failed us. It is a false hope that doing the same thing will result in a different outcome."

The provincial election is on May 29 between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. You can find more information on how to vote by visiting the Elections Alberta website.