Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta's Opposition Wildrose Party Embraces Centrism, Activism in 2013

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta's Opposition Wildrose Party Embraces Centrism, Activism in 2013

Article excerpt

Wildrose party embraces activism in 2013

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EDMONTON - From Team Angry to Team Advocate, Alberta's opposition Wildrose party enters 2014 with scars from some painful soul searching in 2013, but also armed with a new centrist, activist platform.

"I think we've come a long way in two years," party Leader Danielle Smith said in a year-end interview.

"We've go two more years (before the 2016 election) to demonstrate our credibility not only as an opposition but also as a government in waiting, but I'm very pleased with the progress."

In 2013, Smith's 17-member caucus moved beyond its focus on balanced budgets and government ethics scandals to more community involvement and to highlighting problems with day-to-day government policy.

They publicized the plight of a three-year-old Aleena Sadownyk, keeping the issue on the front-pages until the government agreed to fund expensive but potentially life-saving enzyme replacement therapy for her.

This fall, the Wildrose fought for the family of Violet MacDonald, a senior who was ignored in a Calgary senior's care home to the point her bedsores poisoned her bloodstream and decayed her flesh, bringing on complications that ultimately led to her death.

Health Minister Fred Horne said he was appalled by the case and is now reviewing the contract for the care facility.

"I look at our role as the opposition as being an advocate," said Smith.

"If we feel that we can, by shining a light on a particular issue, solve a policy problem that can benefit hundreds if not thousands of people, then we think that we've really done our job."

The caucus has focused more on doing more, including setting up a foundation to fund various charitable causes. All the caucus members are looking to give back at the community level, participating in events like AIDS walks.

At Christmas, they decided to not give gifts to each other at the office party but instead donate them to a home for women fleeing domestic abuse.

There were changes at the party level, too. …

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