WATCH ABOVE: Former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith went up against Okotoks councilor Carrie Fischer for the Highwood riding PC nomination and lost. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, it’s was a race that many said was too close to call.
CALGARY – Highwood MLA and former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith battled for her seat in the legislature Saturday and lost.
The winning candidate for the Highwood PC nomination is Carrie Fischer, an Okotoks councillor.
Saturday marked the PC nomination vote for that riding.
There were 972 ballots that were cast.
Fischer thanked her family, friends and campaign following the results.
“You put your trust in me and I will not take that lightly. I will work hard for Highwood and hard to represent each and every constituent in the election that comes forward. I look forward to meeting with the PC caucus,” Fischer said.
Smith then stepped up to the podium to congratulate Fischer.
“I look forward to seeing Carrie be successful. I think it’s really important when we’re facing such challenging fiscal times, for conservatives to unite under Jim Prentice’s leadership. I think that this is going to be a very key and important election. I look forwsrd to supporting Carrie in her efforts to win this riding.”
When asked about whether or not it was a mistake crossing the floor to join the PC’s, Danielle Smith said no.
“I think that Jim Prentice is exactly the kind of leading we need right now. I think it’s important that conservatives unify under his leadership,” Smith said.
Smith then released the following statement on her Facebook page;
“Dear friends –
It is with mixed emotions that I write this.
I have been honoured to serve as the MLA for Highwood, and I pledge to continue working hard on behalf of our constituents right up until my term has ended.
But as you will know, I won’t be representing the Progressive Conservative party in the next provincial election I accept that with some heaviness but also with a small sense of satisfaction.
I want to congratulate Carrie Fischer on her nomination, and I wish her the best of luck. She is a strong Okotoks councillor, and she will be a strong MLA.
I also want to thank my team and my supporters for all of their hard work. Politics is a team sport, and no one does it on their own.
I have some satisfaction, because I set out in politics to bring better government to Alberta. I wanted to see a conservative Premier with conservative principles.
Our province now has that, and I truly believe that is what is best for Alberta’s future. I am comfortable with this outcome.
Besides all of you who supported me, I want to thank my family – my husband, my parents, my stepson – for standing with me every step of my six years in public life.
It has been a wonderful experience and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
Our province is opportunity, and there is great opportunity everywhere.
I am and always will be a committed and grateful Albertan.
Thank you again for everything.
Global National parliamentary correspondent Vassy Kapelos contacted Danielle Smith for further comment and received this response;
Fischer cast her ballot on Saturday morning. She hopes attitudes will change when it comes to Alberta politics.
“There is some cynicism going on and that’s unfortunate to see. I’d like to see some of that to start to come around and people to regain faith in their elected officials,” Fischer said.
Earlier in the day, Fischer talked about the ongoing issues in High River after the flood.
“With the DRP (Disaster Recovery Program) in High River, there’s a lot of family still really struggling there. And we need a strong local representative who is going to be meeting with them and talk with them and make sure that their needs are heard at a provincial level,” Fischer said. “There are quite a few gaps with the DRP, there’s a lot of family that haven’t been able to get the recovery dollars that they need to move on with their lives. A lot of them feel they have to fight or that their file goes to appeal and I just want to move on,” she said.
Fischer said she’s been working with the MP and local advocacy people in High River, on ways to streamline the process to make sure people are able to get their funds and move forward.
Fischer also addressed the budget that came out on Thursday.
“I think it was an okay budget. There are some things I would like to see differently but I think for right now it’s a good budget and will look in the next year to streamline and find efficiency that we need, to make the next budget even better.”
Watch Below: Danielle Smith faces tough battle in Highwood
Smith cast her ballot Saturday afternoon at the High River Highwood Memorial Centre. Smith says contested nominations are always great.
“They are reinvigorating, not only for the candidates but also for the membership. I think we have a wonderful contest. We had a great debate and exchange of ideas last week. I’m looking forward to the results,” Smith said.
Smith says she has seen a lot of support, so she’s encouraged.
“I think people have seen over the past three years the kind of work that I have put in to promoting this riding. The work that I did during the flood. The work I’ve done on trying to get the disaster recovery program claims complete,” Smith said. “I think people are voting on the basis of who is going to be the best representative for the riding and I have the experience as well as the understanding of how the legislature works to make that happen.”
Danielle Smith also addressed the tax increases and struggling energy sector.
“We are in new world, with $50 oil, we have the lowest level of resource revenues that we’ve seen since 1998. I think that the balanced approach that the premier and finance minister took, a combination of revenue increases and cuts to spending, as well as dipping into the contingency fund, will get us where we need to be within three years. We will be back into the black and will be putting more money into the heritage savings trust fund. It’s the future we can all look forward to and I support it,” Smith said.