“An MLA is the epitome of being an activist,” says Darrell Dunn who is in the running for the Vermilion-Lloydminster-Wainwright riding under the Alberta Party banner.
The 15-year Lloydminster-resident says MLAs can do a great deal for their constituents if they know the political process.
The list of issues on the prairies range from healthcare to how municipalities are going to pay the RCMP bill.
He takes aim at what he calls the big tent parties saying he supports the person who will best represent him.
“One of the problems we have in our political system is the big tent parties and the way they are structured,” says Dunn.
In discussing his choice of the Alberta Party, he says,”The beauty of democracy is you should be able to support whomever you choose.”
“The Alberta Party as an organization is very much centrist. As a political scientist, if I had to label it, I would say it’s moderately progressive and it’s moderately fiscally conservative. Its orientation tends to be what is the best outcome of any given legislation.”
He continues their MLAs can vote according to their conscience.
Dunn is currently the corporate secretary of the party and led careers in law enforcement and agriculture, along with studies in history and economics.
His checklist of issues reads the policing contract bill in which he says, “That contract was made without any involvement of the people who have to pay the bills.”
“Now you’ve got councils, counties and rural areas that have to take care of this bill and some of them just simply did not plan for it. That’s an issue – the relationship between Edmonton and the constituency is a big issue.”
His next pressure point is healthcare and education. He says there is capital funding to build new schools, but the other cuts to education are hurting the classroom.
“In terms of capital building – yes they are. But in terms of the teachers and the supporting infrastructure to work with the kids in those buildings – that’s not there.”
Statistics Canada data from 2019-20 indicates for that period, Alberta was at the bottom of all provinces for per-pupil school board operating dollars. In March, the government’s budget proposed nearly $9 million in funding with a 10 per cent boost for students with unique needs.
On the health file, Dunn is active in promoting issues affecting seniors care and advocating on issues like upgrades at seniors facilities.
With regard to funding for rural versus urban and with the conversation on Lloydminster’s events centre Dunn notes that the Border City is “one of the most active when it comes to fundraising” however he says Edmonton and Calgary enjoy all the attention both politically and with regard to funding and “the Feds and Saskatchewan have stepped up for Lloydminster Place and I see that Calgary got over $300 million out of Edmonton for their hockey arena. So, I’m just going to let that statement stand on its own.”
Dunn says he is not against hockey arenas, but asks, “Is entertainment more important than serving people’s health needs?”
His conclusion is that “in the scramble, in today’s political environment for power and position, we allow politics to make judgements on how we are going to spend money.”
Overall, he says, “What people want from government is an open ear, an opportunity to be heard and the expectation that they will be taken seriously.”