The United Conservative Party is holding a caucus retreat and sold-out fundraiser this weekend in Lethbridge, a city represented by two NDP MLAs including Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, an outspoken critic of the official opposition.
UCP MLAs and newly nominated candidates will join party leader Jason Kenney at several events.
The party is planning a door-knocking blitz throughout Lethbridge on Saturday. Candidates will receive training in preparation for next year’s election. MLAs are also meeting with community groups and preparing for the fall legislature session, which starts Oct. 29.
Three hundred people are expected to attend a $150-a-plate fundraiser Friday evening with Kenney and the UCP caucus.
Proceeds will go to the UCP constituency associations in Lethbridge East and Lethbridge West.
“We are just months away from the next provincial election,” Kenney said in a news release Thursday.
“The United Conservatives will work hard to earn the support of Lethbridge residents for our plan to reignite Alberta’s economy, scrap the carbon tax, and stand up for our resources. That hard work begins this weekend.”
Both Lethbridge seats were held by Progressive Conservatives going into the 2015 election.
Former Liberal turned PC MLA Bridget Pastoor didn’t run in 2015. Lethbridge East voters chose NDP candidate Maria Fitzpatrick to be their MLA.
NDP candidate Phillips unseated incumbent PC MLA Greg Weadick in Lethbridge West.
The Progressive Conservatives merged with the Wildrose in 2017 to form the UCP.
In her role as environment minister, Phillips has frequently criticized the UCP for not viewing human activity as the cause of climate change, and for lacking a plan to mitigate its effects. Her views have made her a target on social media, particularly for people who identify themselves as Kenney supporters.
Phillips is unfazed by the conservative influx into her home turf. She challenged Kenney to join her at a school opening in her constituency Friday and talk to parents about how badly the school was needed.
She also challenged the UCP leader to meet with climate scientists at the University of Lethbridge, also in her riding. She says she could even introduce Kenney to some downtown business owners who pay their employees a living wage.
The NDP contends Kenney will decrease funding of public services if he wins power next year.
Phillips says her constituents don’t want that. She notes there are many young families in Lethbridge West and many people work in public services like health care and post-secondary education.
“I’m really looking forward to Jason Kenney talking to people in Lethbridge to hear about how his proposed cuts to health care and education, that in his own team’s words, will hurt people,” she said.
Phillips says both she and Fitzpatrick will be doing their own canvassing this weekend and attending community events.
“Unlike conservatives, I don’t believe anyone is entitled to govern Alberta,” she said. “We all have to work very hard and talk to voters and put in the time on the ground to do that.”
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Sherwood Park is a large hamlet in Alberta, Canada within Strathcona County that is recognized as an urban service area. It is located adjacent to the City of Edmonton’s eastern boundary, generally south of Highway 16 (Yellowhead Trail), west of Highway 21 and north of Highway 630 (Wye Road). Other portions of Sherwood Park extend beyond Yellowhead Trail and Wye Road, while Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) separates Refinery Row to the west from the balance of the hamlet to the east.
Sherwood Park was established in 1955 on farmland of the Smeltzer family, east of Edmonton. With a population of 70,618 in 2016, Sherwood Park has enough people to be Alberta’s seventh largest city, but technically retains the status of a hamlet. The Government of Alberta recognizes the Sherwood Park Urban Service Area as equivalent to a city.
Sherwood Park, originally named Campbelltown, was founded by John Hook Campbell and John Mitchell in 1953 when the Municipal District of Strathcona No. 83 approved their proposed development of a bedroom community east of Edmonton. The first homes within the community were marketed to the public in 1955. Canada Post intervened on the name of Campbelltown due to the existence of several other communities in Canada within the same name, so the community’s name was changed to Sherwood Park in 1956.
The Sherwood Park Urban Service Area is located in the Edmonton Capital Region along the western edge of central Strathcona County adjacent to the City of Edmonton. The majority of the community is bound by Highway 16 (Yellowhead Highway) to the north, Highway 21 to the east, Highway 630 (Wye Road) to the south, and Anthony Henday Drive (Highway 216) to the west. The Refinery Row portion of Sherwood Park is located across Anthony Henday Drive to the west, between Sherwood Park Freeway and Highway 16. Numerous developments fronting the south side of Wye Road, including Wye Gardens, Wye Crossing, Salisbury Village and the Estates of Sherwood Park, are also within the community. Lands north of Highway 16 and south of Township Road 534/Oldman Creek between Range Road 232 (Sherwood Drive) to the west and Highway 21 to the east are also within the Sherwood Park urban service area.