Four candidates are vying for the leadership of the United Conservative Party (UCP), which will hold a vote online and by phone from Oct. 26 to 28. Anyone wishing to vote must buy a membership by Sept. 29.
As a non-partisan organization, the Alberta Teachers’ Association encourages its members to engage in the political affairs of the province through individual partisan and non-partisan activities. To that end, we encourage members to participate in all of the political opportunities that are available to them, and we seek to keep them informed about all candidates and parties for political office.
The four UCP leadership candidates were invited to submit a biography and statement of educational beliefs for publication in the ATA News.
Jeff Callaway’s campaign did not respond.
In March 2015, Brian Jean was elected leader of Wildrose. Despite critics and pundits predicting the end of the Wildrose, Brian led the party back from the brink to form the official opposition and win 22 seats. On July 22, he helped lead Wild-rose to a historic unity vote to form the new United Conservative Party.
Raised in Fort McMurray, Brian is a hunter and a trapper. He’s an entrepreneur who has built businesses from the ground up and built them to last.
He knows what it’s like to sign a paycheque. He’s been a college instructor and a community leader in Fort McMurray. And he’s even a lawyer, but he asks that you don’t hold that against him.
Brian is the current MLA for Fort McMurray–Conklin and proudly served as the MP for Fort McMurray and northern Alberta for more than 10 years, from 2004 to 2014.
He is here for Albertans and he is here for you.
Statement of educational beliefs
Education is perhaps the highest calling of any government. Investing in children’s learning is a vital element of their future happiness and the flourishing of society. If government gets education right, everything else becomes easier in the long run.
Obviously teachers are at the core of a good education, and Alberta is fortunate to have so many excellent and dedicated teachers. I believe in empowering teachers in the classroom to use the methods of instruction that work for them and their students rather than the minister’s office telling them how teaching should be done. I think the government should play a role with educators in establishing a core curriculum, and in implementing measures like diploma exams to ensure accountability, but not in micromanaging the classroom.
My education platform, which you can find at brianjean.ca, also calls for added supports in the classroom for teachers to serve the increasingly complex needs of their students. More teaching assistants was virtually the only spending promise I made in the 2015 election, and I still believe it is an investment worth making. Inclusion for children with special learning needs or language barriers is important, but without the proper supports, teachers cannot be expected to help all children reach their full potential.
I also believe that parental choice has been a benefit to Alberta’s system, and have no inclination to make any significant changes to the funding model we currently have.
Doug Schweitzer is a father, husband and restructuring lawyer with Dentons. He is a third-generation Albertan who has experienced the best and worst of our province, and has a vision for a new Alberta. As a restructuring lawyer, Doug has seen firsthand how Alberta companies are struggling. While low commodity prices deserve much of the blame, NDP policies are making a bad situation worse. Alberta is no longer competitive and too many Albertans are out of work.
The United Conservative Party of Alberta represents an opportunity for conservatives to reflect on who we are, what we want for this province and how we can get there. Doug believes Alberta can, and should, be the most exciting place to live, work and grow in Canada. But for that to happen Albertans need new jobs, investors need new reasons to be confident in our province, and we need to ensure all Albertans have the opportunity to find success.
Doug is a new voice, with a new vision, for a modern Alberta.
Statement of educational beliefs
First and foremost I believe we must invest in and ensure we are putting our kids first. Far too often we get caught up in the politics of policy and forget to think about the kids. I believe we have a duty to do what is best for our children and their futures.
Focusing on STEM as part of our children’s curriculum is vital. We know STEM occupations are growing quickly, and to ensure the next generation of Albertans is prepared for the jobs of the future, I believe further investment in and focus on these disciplines is necessary. Coding can and should be a second language for all our kids, and if we start early I know they will hit the ground running and be world leaders in these fields.
GSAs and parental choice are two other areas I am passionate about. On GSAs I have been clear from day one: access to these groups is so important for our LGBTQ youth, and I stand firm in my belief that we cannot out kids to their parents. Additionally, I believe in parental choice in our education system — parents know their kids best, they know their needs and desires, and they should have the right to choose what type of school is best for them.
Again, putting kids first is my main agenda when it comes to education. It may not be easy or popular to make certain decisions as they relate to curriculum or other issues in our education system, but sometimes you have to make the tough decisions to do what’s right — for the betterment of our kids, their future and our province.
Jason Kenney’s campaign did not respond.