By Rob South
Canadian Alliance supporters in Calgary West can expect another exciting race after this weekend’s national leadership convention is over. After spending seven years as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for the provincial riding of Calgary Currie, Jocelyn Burgener has decided to challenge incumbent MP Rob Anders for the riding’s CA nomination.
"I had always committed to two terms when I first sought the nomination in 1993," said Burgener on her decision not to seek provincial re-election. "I feel part of politics is the turnover, you have got to have people who continually build up the community, represent it and move on."
Experience in government is a key issue for Burgener, who believes her seven years with the governing Progressive Conservatives will be very valuable to the CA.
"What did she do in government?" countered Anders. "She was never a cabinet member and the only major bill she introduced was voted down by her own party."
Anders recent actions to reject some Student Career Placement funding in the riding is a source of contention between the two candidates.
"I just did not agree that you pull the rug out from underneath students looking for employment in an area where they have their specialty," said Burgener. "I think his discussions should have been with Human Resources Development Canada, not with the community of Calgary West in the way that it went over."
"That is a somewhat philosophically inconsistent response," retorted Anders. "If you want people to have lower taxes then you have to take actions to do that."
Both candidates have achievements they are proud of from their terms in office. Burgener cites the passing of the Protection against Family Violence Act and strong representation of her diverse constituency. Highlights of Anders’ term include the establishment of the Canadian Justice Foundation, taking a strong stand with HRDC and his fight for senate reform, and raising awareness of human rights issues such as Tibetan independence.
The candidates also differ on who they support for the CA leadership race.
"Experience is going to be very critical," said Burgener, citing support for Stockwell Day. "There are not a lot of members of the current opposition who have served in government."
Reform Party founder Preston Manning gets the nod from Anders.
"I signed up myself and two of my friends [to Reform] in 1991 when he spoke at the University of Calgary."
Anders believes the nomination race is good for the party.
"It’s a great opportunity to recruit new people."
The CA nomination vote for Calgary West takes place on August 26.