Liberal Leadership Candidate Profiles: Laurie Blakeman

By Amy Badry

Laurie Blakeman has been an MLA for Edmonton-Centre since 1997. She has a strong presence in the Alberta Liberal Party, serving as the official opposition house leader.

When asked what she thinks is the number one issue facing young Albertans, Blakeman said “I think the two words that pick it up are opportunity and quality of life.”

“If you are a young gay or lesbian couple, do you see Alberta as a place you feel comfortable in and want to connect with people and live your life or if you are a new immigrant, is this a place of opportunity and quality of life for you?”

She said it is not all the government’s responsibility to ensure opportunity and quality of life, but she thinks the government has to do a better job.

“If we want to keep the young people who come here and are trained here, we have to do a better job of making clear what opportunities are here for young people and in some cases, making opportunity.”

Blakeman said an entire paradigm shift is necessary in the way the government approaches funding and money in the government.

“I am really tired about the conversation always being about money. The money is always the bottom line. The way the government handles it, is they say, ‘here is the money you will get for education, do the best you can with it. Here is the money we have for healthcare, keep as many people healthy and alive as you can with it.”’

Instead she would like to see funding provided in order to achieve excellence.

“Set the bar to what you say is excellence in education and we will fund for that. You must have accountability, monitor and review it and hit those marks, but essentially a change in attitude from ‘this is how much money you get’ to ‘let’s fund for excellence.’”

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