The riding of Bonnyville-Cold Lake had an opportunity to get up close and personal with Alberta Party leadership candidates last night. About 30 guests were present at the the French Cultural Centre in Bonnyville. Candidates touched on issues such as representation of rural communities to oil and gas growth in the province. Rick Fraser is a candidate for leader of the party, he says when it comes to oil and gas, staying competitive is key.

“We’re competing with the entire world for these jobs. They’re going to go where they get better incentives and better breaks. We need to be very aware of that.”

“I want to make sure that we are building for the future.” says Kara Levis, a lawyer specializing in energy law outside of politics. “That people who are working today and their children will be able to build a life and have good jobs in rural places like Bonnyville.”

Former Mayor of Edmonton and PC Health Minister Stephen Mandel is also in the running. He says a rural/urban divide shouldn’t be.

“The wealth of the province is often generated by rural areas. The urban areas need to work with the rural areas to make sure they’re successful.”

Alberta Party members will vote for a new leader over two days starting on February 25th, with a new leader expected to be announced on February 27th.