Thursday, July 12, 2012

Copy of the Alberta PC leadership race debate. From PC leadership debate February 6, 2012 Jason Markusoff: For those who say newspapers are old, stodgy and resistant to change: welcome to Canada's first-ever major political debate conducted by web-chat, hosted by the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald. For the next 90 minutes, we have with us the three finalists for the Alberta Tory leadership: Gary Mar, Alison Redford and Doug Horner. I'm Jason Markusoff, reporter with the Calgary Herald. 11:30 Keith Gerein: And I am Keith Gerein with the Edmonton Journal. Thank you all for joining us today. This chat will feature questions from Postmedia journalists, the candidates themselves, and from our readers. We'll get started with short opening statements -- the only things we've allowed candidates to type up in advance. We'll go in this order: Horner, Mar, Redford. 11:30 Keith Gerein: That means you are up first, Mr. Horner. Take it away. 11:30 Doug Horner: Rose and I have travelled around the province, and here is what we’ve heard from Albertans. Albertans want change... You want us to manage our finances but also ensure we are building the Alberta of the future… to engage you in the process and not surprise you with the direction. Its time we talked about what Alberta could be… not what we have in the bank. Its time we saved for a purpose in health, oil and gas, agriculture and forestry research. Its time we budgeted for success in Education, not just for percentages. The PC Party needs a leader who will unite our Party, unlock the tremendous potential of this great province and unleash and build the capacity of Albertans. I, and many others in Alberta, believe I am that leader. I know what PC stands for and I believe in the future of this Province. 11:30 Keith Gerein: Ok, next up Mr. Mar 11:31 Gary Mar: I’m excited to be participating in this debate today. Alberta is the best province to live, work and raise a family. But we can be more than what we are today. We need to build our economic wealth, not just from our natural resources, but from our intellect & innovation. We need a health care system that is responsive & effective for all Albertans. We have to ensure that our children have the best education to prepare them for the future. We have to spend wisely, save earnestly & make conscientious decisions to ensure that Alberta has a prosperous and promising tomorrow. 11:31 Keith Gerein: And now Ms. Redford 11:32 Alison Redford: This is an excellent format. Thank you to the Calgary Herald and Edmonton Journal for hosting us. I am very pleased to be spending the final days of this campaign talking about issues that matter to Albertans. The most important issue, the issue I speak to Albertans about everyday, is Health Care. I am fully committed to strengthening our public health care system. I believe that any focus on private health care is a weakening of our public health care system. I want better access for Alberta families. That is why I have created my Family Care Clinics idea. I want Alberta seniors to be able to enter care together and stay together, regardless of each individuals health care requirements. My campaign has been about engaging Albertans on the issues that matter to them. I look forward to discussing them in this medium! 11:32 Jason Markusoff: All right, now it's time to test our would-be premiers' typing speed (also, debating skills). 11:32 Jason Markusoff: Thank you. Now to our first question, from Calgary Herald reader Graeme Hill. It's a timely one, with a major decision coming soon on the Keystone bitumen line. 11:32 Jason Markusoff: If U.S. blocks construction of southern pipelines, how would you handle that situation? 11:33 Jason Markusoff: Ms. Redford, please answer first. then others jump in 11:33 Alison Redford: We need to know that we can continue to pursue the project - but of course we still have pipeline opportunities to the west coast that will matter and allow us to build our economy. Value added here can be made economically attractive and if we need to consider that in the future, we can. 11:34 Jason Markusoff: Gary Mar and Doug Horner? 11:34 Doug Horner: We need to engage with our federal partners and industry to ensure that the right information is there, we also need to ensure that we are represented at all of the committee events that are in the U.S We must continue with the Gateway as well and aggresively. 11:35 Gary Mar: First of all, I have confidence that the Keystone XL Pipeline will be approved, the largest hurdle was overcoming the EIA where by State Department with input from the EPA, the next phase is to determine the national interest determination and a hearing will be held on October 7 and I intend to testify before it. 11:35 Jason Markusoff: But what if Obama says no? 11:36 Gary Mar: Whether or not KXL is approved we still need to push for a pipeline to the west coast. 11:36 Jason Markusoff: Any final comments before we move onto Q2? 11:36 Doug Horner: It would put more strength to our argument for west coast access, and also be detrimental to the US economy 11:37 Alison Redford: This will always depend on what our options are for economic development and it is important to aggressively pursue our opportunities on a proactive basis - and not only in response to circumstances, which is what is happening now 11:37 Gary Mar: We presently send 1.5 million bpd of oil to the US, we have capacity to send more and refine in Alberta as well. 11:37 Keith Gerein: Let's move on. Here's one from Journal reader Linda Ruggles. It touches on something else being debated hotly in the United States: taxing the wealthy. Would you consider reducing or revisiting Alberta’s flat tax and instead move to an income tax system based on level of wealth? Mr. Horner you can start. Then the others can weigh in. 11:37 Alison Redford: Absolutely not. Alberta's flat tax is one of our advantages that allows our province to be more successful than other provinces. 11:38 Gary Mar: The last time a review of taxes was done was roughly 10 years ago. We must ensure that our taxes remain competitive and I'm committed to reviewing them after we balance our Budget in 2013. 11:38 Doug Horner: I believe we need to expand and diversify our current tax base, we need to ensure that we are as competitive as possible as a jurisdiction. I do not see the advantage in changing tax system n ow 11:38 Keith Gerein: Mr. Mar, are you open to a flat tax then? 11:39 Keith Gerein: Sorry open to changing the flat tax? 11:39 Gary Mar: As I said, we must ensure that our taxes remain competitive, that is critical. My full position is at on the measures I believe we should explore on the fiscal front. 11:40 Alison Redford: Growing the economy is the key to growing our tax base. Both for individual and corporate taxes. 11:40 Jason Markusoff: OK, we'll move to our third question: This comes from one of my colleagues, hearkening back to something Alberta's outgoing premier has often talked about. Mr. Mar, please answer first. Do you want more refineries in Alberta? Is it worth the environmental cost? Do we have the manpower? 11:41 Jason Markusoff: (oil refineries that is. synthetic gold. alberta tea) 11:41 Doug Horner: We need to strive as quickly as we can to create the economic environment that will encourage investment in value added, we have the BRIK policy and we can leverage that in the future. 11:42 Alison Redford: As I said before in the pipeline question, it must be economically viable. The Northwest Upgrader is a good start, but the Alberta government should not be in the position of picking winners and losers. Industry must decide. We have a shortage of workers now. That is a problem. However, I hope in the future we can change the worker shortage instead of changing our policies. 11:43 Gary Mar: Currently production in the oilsands is about 2 million bdp and it is projected to grow to 3-5 million bpd in the next 10 years. There will be the ability to refine more oil in AB and to export more. I support the BRIK policy (providing crown barrels for upgrading) and will explore the results of the BRIK project to see if we should expand it. 11:43 Jason Markusoff: Are you worried about the export of jobs into the US? 11:43 Alison Redford: How do you evaluate that Gary? What types of results would lead to increased government investment? 11:44 Doug Horner: In order for our economy to expand, including value added, we need to address the labour shortage and that means our own agreement with Ottawa geared to Albertas needs 11:44 Jason Markusoff: (by the way, readers can have their own say below this live-chat in a live-chat just for commenters) 11:44 Jason Markusoff: Mr. Mar, your reply? 11:44 Alison Redford: We need to train our workforce to be able to participate in the future labour markets. The solution is not only presuming we can import labour from somewhere else. Immigration is important for our economy, but it is not the only solution. 11:45 Gary Mar: What activity will result in the measurably best economic result for Alberta which will include employment and taxation revenues. 11:45 Gary Mar: In regards to having enough manpower within Alberta, if there is a shortage then it will drive up the cost of other capital construction for important infrastructure like hospitals and schools. We must train Albertans to ensure they have the skills sets we will require. 11:46 Keith Gerein: On to question 4. Here's another from an Edmonton Journal reader: Are you support of developing nuclear power in Alberta? Why or why not? Ms. Redford can answer first, then the others can provide their responses. 11:46 Alison Redford: No. We do not require nuclear power in Alberta. 11:46 Doug Horner: A balanced solution is needed and an expansion of our post secondary is required but we cannot "home grow" the numbers we will need 11:46 Doug Horner: Nuclear power is not in the cards. 11:47 Keith Gerein: And Mr. Mar? 11:47 Gary Mar: The objective of our electricity policy is to ensure reliable and affordable electricity for residential and industrial. Events recently in Japan suggest the world will be looking away from nuclear and towards traditional and renewable electricity sources like the ones in Alberta. 11:48 Doug Horner: We also need to ensure that we develop our clean coal resources and alternate energy sources 11:48 Keith Gerein: To all three, what are your reasons for opposing nuclear power in Alberta? 11:48 Alison Redford: We do not need it. And Albertans are, justifiably, afraid of it. 11:49 Gary Mar: Our focus should be on the resources that we are most familiar with and have the best capacity to develop here in Alberta. 11:49 Doug Horner: I see a number of options that are based on Alberta's strength, wind, biofuels, coal, Hydrocardon. why go to Nuclear 11:49 Jason Markusoff: Question #5.... making good time here. Would you take concrete steps to improve Alberta's environmental image, such as investing substantially in renewable energy, and/or increasing the price of carbon emissions under Alberta's industrial emitters trading system? 11:50 Jason Markusoff: Jump in, O fast typers 11:50 Alison Redford: Ted Morton was right regarding the price of carbon emissions, we have to stay within the range of the North American market. Let's talk about alternative sustainable energy, energy efficiency and environment stewardship on a proactive basis. 11:51 Doug Horner: I would refer to my website as we have a number of initiatives outlined there, however, we need to be leaders on a global scale in the areas I mentioned, we are an energy province lets lead 11:51 Gary Mar: This is of great importance to me, I've clearly articulated my position in on my website, I will establish an independent Alberta Environmental Monitoring Authority. This independent authority will monitor and report on the environmental impacts of developing Alberta’s energy resources, from oil sands to fracing and CO2-enhanced oil recovery. 11:52 Jason Markusoff: Would you increase the /tonne rate for excess CO2 emissions for heavy emitters? 11:52 Doug Horner: Commercialization of environmental solutions is another way we could diversify our economic base, research investment is important and should be expanded 11:52 Gary Mar: On the issue of the carbon tax, we don't want to increase our $15/ton on emissions until other jurisdictions are prepared to do the same, as we don't want to make our industry uncompetitive. 11:53 Alison Redford: I am committed to keeping the per tonne cost within the North American standards. We need to increase research in how to reduce carbon emissions. 11:53 Gary Mar: Our system here in Alberta for the carbon tax has been the subject of consideration by committees of Congress. This shows how Alberta is leading the way. 11:54 Keith Gerein: Now we have asked each candidate to pose a question to both of their opponents. The Tories' aren't used to being on this side Question Period, but we'll see how they fare. First question from Alison Redford: 11:54 Alison Redford: Doug & Gary - A leadership is more than simply an exercise in selecting a leader. It is an opportunity for team building. What will you do to reach out to Albertans and build the broadest team possible? 11:54 Gary Mar: We will continue to do what we've done during the campaign which is to reach out to Albertans in every corner of this province. That includes MLAs, party members and all Albertans. 11:55 Jason Markusoff: Mr. Horner, to Ms. Redford's question? 11:56 Doug Horner: This is a great question and I have said often that we need a team leader to redifine the Progressive Conservative approach and change the perception that is currently out there. I have experience as a team leader and will concentrate on bringing our members together asap in order to define PC not enough room or time ! 11:56 Keith Gerein: Ms. Redford, what is your answer to your question? 11:57 Gary Mar: An example is my tele town halls, I've had 4 tele town halls each with over 5000 people participating. This is a great venue to reach out to Albertans. 11:57 Alison Redford: Good question - leadership is about respect and vision. We need to ensure that Albertans aspirations are reflected in caucus, cabinet and the office of he Premier. that tone is set from the top. 11:58 Jason Markusoff: Thanks, Ms. Redford. Our next question is Doug Horner to his two opponents. Mr. Horner, please: 11:58 Doug Horner: Alison and Gary, what is the single biggest threat to Alberta's future today. 11:58 Alison Redford: Collapse in public health care. Privatization of health care is the thin edge of the wedge that begins to undermine public confidence in our most important public service. We must resist the temptation. We must work harder for public health care for all Albertans. 12:00 Gary Mar: The biggest threat we face is from outside our borders. There are those that argue that our energy is dirty, there are those that say our food products are not safe & our forestry products are unfairly subsidized. We must stand strong together as a province in order to defend and promote Alberta for market access. At the same time we must stand together strong as our opportunities are outside our province. 12:00 Jason Markusoff: OK. Mr. Horner, what do you think of those two answers? 12:00 Gary Mar: We have the ability to open new markets to our products. 12:00 Doug Horner: I believe we must address the human capacity risk of not having the right people at the right time, this applies to the economy and services such as health care, oil sands development and all areas of our society. We must build training and opportunities for new Albertans and those who have needs like our aboriginal populations 12:02 Keith Gerein: OK. Mr. Mar, it's your turn to ask your fellow candidates a question. 12:02 Gary Mar: Alison, our focus should be to ensure that Albertans get the service they need in our health care system in a timely way. All my policies have been about protecting our public health care system. I support the principles of the Canada Health Act and believe that we can learn from the experiences of other provinces who spend less and get better results. 12:02 Gary Mar: My question is, what specific actions would you take to ensure the right decision is made by President Obama regarding Keystone XL given its direct impact on Alberta's economy? 12:02 Jason Markusoff: (i'm guessing that wasn't his question) 12:02 Jason Markusoff: well, that one was 12:03 Doug Horner: This is a critical piece of infrastructure for our product mix to get to market and as I stated earlier, we need to work in partnership with the Federal Govt and Industry to ensure we have a co-ordinated approach. This includes being present at the appropriate forums and discussions. 12:05 Alison Redford: First sit down with TransCanada Pipeline and ask how the Alberta government can help. We must work with industry in order to be strategic. And we have not done a good job of that so far. Having a strategy developed exclusively by the department of international affairs is not a solution. We need to ensure that we can be most effective by using all relationships that exist between Albertans and in the United States to resolve this issue. 12:05 Jason Markusoff: Mr. Mar, what are you specifically going to say on Oct 7 in DC? 12:06 Gary Mar: I've met with the Governor of every single state that KXL crosses and many of the Congressman as well. As I said earlier, I will testify before the hearing in DC on October 7 which is a follow up to my previous testimony to Congress in February of this year. 12:06 Jason Markusoff: (if you're elected premier) 12:06 Doug Horner: The west coast and access to a new market is as important 12:07 Alison Redford: Doing what we have done before and expecting different results? 12:07 Gary Mar: Well Jason, the hearing is on the national interest determination and our testimony will be about how we create jobs in the US, how we create national security (no military lives are ever put at risk), we create energy security (17 percent of US imports come from AB, only 11% from Saudi). And finally, we produce our energy in an environmentally and socially responsible way. 12:07 Jason Markusoff: Mr. Mar, we'll let you close out this topic. 12:07 Keith Gerein: We've already gotten into the private/public health debate a bit, so let's dive in a little further with a question from Journal health reporter Jodie Sinnema. What kind of guarantees can you offer that wait times and wait lists will go down for health services, either by staying the course, retooling the Medicare system or by introducing more privately-delivered and/or privately paid for health services? 12:08 Keith Gerein: It's open to all. Dive in when you have an answer 12:09 Gary Mar: The current system of referrals has lead to extensive wait times and ineffective utilization of specialists. Centralizing the specialist intake system would provide a single point of entry for Albertans to access specialized medical treatment. More on this on my website 12:09 Gary Mar: By centralizing orthopedic surgery we reduced the wait times from several months to just a few weeks. 12:09 Alison Redford: First, we have to focus on improving access for basic medical services. Family Care Clinics move towards a system where people get the services they need in a timely fashion. Here is my policy: 12:10 Gary Mar: When I was health Minister I introduced Primary Care Networks, or PCNs. These community-based, multi-disciplinary teams were the first of their kind in Canada. With over 40 PCNs up and running across Alberta today, these teams are the gateway to the health system for the future, and will deliver integrated, patient-focused care. I have pledged in this campaign, not to re-name them, but to expand them. 12:11 Keith Gerein: And Mr. Horner? 12:11 Doug Horner: The system we have today is essentially the same system it was when my Dad practiced 40 years ago, we need to change the structure of our publicly funded systme so you see the health professional you need to. That Dr. are compensated for the complexity of the patient not the volume. PCN's are great but we need to open access or they are simply another line up. We need to work on our Publicly funded system and going to privately funded options is not the solution 12:11 Gary Mar: Because the funding per capita hasn't changed since 2003. 12:11 Keith Gerein: There has been a lot of talk about private health care in this campaign. As a followup to your answers, specifically what would you allow and what would you rule out when it comes to private health care? 12:11 Doug Horner: Its not just about the $'s it is about how we do things 12:11 Alison Redford: Second, we need to improve the ability of the Health Quality Council to measure performance independently from political interference. So Albertans will be able to see where health care is improving and where we need to do better. This allows us to hold Alberta Health Services accountable. 12:11 Gary Mar: We should hold AHS accountable. The HQCA was created when I was Minister of Health to do precisely that. 12:12 Alison Redford: I will not expand the role of private health care beyond our current levels in the publicly funded system. 12:12 Keith Gerein: Mr. Mar and Mr. Horner? How far would you take private care? What would you rule out? 12:13 Gary Mar: The core of our system is ensuring that health services for all Albertans who need them are provided through our public system. 12:14 Doug Horner: The HQCA should report to an all party com of the Legislature and I will not expand the role of privately funded health care as a solution to our publicly funded system, thats giving up on it and I wont. 12:14 Gary Mar: Alberta’s health system, like all provinces, has evolved because of a commitment by partners in all sectors: public, not-for profit, and private. These parts of the system work together right now in accordance with a legislative and regulatory framework that protects our public system. 12:14 Alison Redford: Gary - is your position today different than it was in August? Here is the interview with Karen Kleiss - 12:14 Keith Gerein: Mr. Mar are you willing to push the boundaries of the Canada Health Act? 12:15 Doug Horner: The stakeholders in the publicly funded system want to contribute we should listen to them 12:15 Gary Mar: I support the Canada Health Act & its principles and I am open to the discussion about how health care is delivered in the public system. 12:15 Jason Markusoff: In a few minutes, we'll take questions our readers are asking in the live-chat below. First, some more health questions: From reader Gerry Man. How many long term care beds would your government build over the next five years? How many of these would be constructed with public funds and designed for low income Albertans? 12:16 Gary Mar: I have said from the outset that is a decision for Albertans to make because I want to lead a government that does more listening and less telling. 12:16 Jason Markusoff: Fastest fingers answer first on long-term care beds 12:16 Alison Redford: I have committed to constructing 1000 new units - not beds - in the next year. These units will be able to accommodate couples instead of individuals. It is imperative that couples be able to stay together when they require care. It is a fundamental part of my Seniors Continuing Care Policy: 12:17 Gary Mar: I have said I support expanding continuing care for seniors and services for disabled Albertans. Seniors require a full spectrum of support from home care to long term care. 12:18 Doug Horner: An assesment of supply and demand across the Province has been in the works for some time, we know where the need is and we know what we need to build. We need to change the way we make decisions on Capital and move on, the who is building is not as important as the what and when. 12:18 Jason Markusoff: Ms. Redford: do you have dollar figures for that commitment? Do others? 12:19 Gary Mar: Doug's answer is a very good and thoughtful one. 12:19 Doug Horner: Lets build places where couples can live in dignity and have the services come to them 12:19 Gary Mar: I've said from the beginning we must allow couples to stay together and ensure quality of life for seniors in care. 12:19 Alison Redford: We will work with the non-profit sector and municipalities to build the facilities. That way, we can subsidize more seniors instead of having a strict cap for accommodation. We need a higher quality of life for all seniors. 12:20 Keith Gerein: Now we are going to take a couple of questions directly from our comment forum. Here's the first one. How do you plan to address the large class sizes the education system is now dealing with? 12:20 Doug Horner: A well thought out capital plan is imperative to the fiscal future of our Province and should be delivered at the next budget. Including Seniors accommodation 12:20 Alison Redford: I will immediately restore the $100 million in cuts. This will allow school boards the flexibility to fix our system now. Not waiting for next year. 12:21 Gary Mar: Class sizes are not the only determinate of whether a student gets a good education. Highly skilled teachers are the most important factor. Supports for those teachers with wrap around services are also important for optimal outcomes. 12:22 Doug Horner: Its time we budgeted for success in the classroom, not a percentage. We need to separate the labour component from the classroom tools and resources. We need to invest in early childhood development and implement the inspiring education framework 12:22 Keith Gerein: We have a followup question from the Grade 6 class at Florence Hallock School in Edmonton. They say, "We are concerned over the current funding for all levels of education. What are your plans regarding predictable and sustainable funding?" Can this be accommodated given Alberta's booms and busts? 12:23 Gary Mar: Within the first 90 days of my mandate, I will restore the $107 million cut from such important programs as the Alberta Initiative for School Improvement and enhanced English as a Second Language. 12:23 Alison Redford: As we have committed to, we will act faster and get those resources back in classrooms in time to make a difference. 12:23 Doug Horner: Within the first 180 days I will present a budget for education targeting success, it will be more than 107 million 12:23 Gary Mar: As I've said from the start predictable and sustainable funding is key. Without that school boards are unable to plan. 12:24 Keith Gerein: Here's another question from our reader forum. What are the candidates’ thoughts on when they would deliver a positive budget (one that has a surplus and pays down the defict)? 12:24 Gary Mar: 2013 12:24 Alison Redford: I agree. 12:25 Doug Horner: We need to establish a longer term plan than just a school year and the funding needs to be there for the need, we should look at the differences between school year budget and our budget cycle 12:25 Doug Horner: Balanced operating budget with savings in 2012 12:26 Jason Markusoff: A follow-up to that. Plenty of fear out there that we're on the edge of another global recession. How would you adjust your fiscal plan in response to freefalling commodity revenues and and a flailing economy? 12:26 Jason Markusoff: now now, not all at once 12:27 Doug Horner: This is why we have an operational reserve (sustainablity account) We need to be prudent at all times but not enter into roller coaster budgeting. We would adjust accordingly. 12:28 Gary Mar: Government has become addicted to using oil and gas money to pay for the day to day spending of government. We need to focus on saving now to ensure we can adapt to market conditions. 12:28 Alison Redford: We need to keep our heads. We will not go into a significant decline. We know our investments in the energy sector are long term and sustainable. Industry is very clear about that. We are extremely well positioned. Far better than when we relied so heavily on natural gas revenues. 12:28 Jason Markusoff: We will now pose one question at specific candidates, starting with Gary Mar. Is your distrust of the science of climate change based on what you have learned about climate science, or because you don't trust the people (such as Al Gore) who are the strongest advocates for action on climate change? 12:28 Gary Mar: I believe that the climate is changing and that there are many causes for it. There is contradictory information about what those causes are and I remain open-minded to our approaches to solving the issue. 12:29 Jason Markusoff: For the other two: what are your thoughts on the science of climate change? 12:29 Alison Redford: The world believes the climate is changing. They believe it is a result of industrial activity. This is the international discussion. We need to address concerns within this reality. 12:31 Doug Horner: Whether you believe in man made global warming or not, the majority of customers on a world stage have serious concerns with it and we must be aware of this. We need to ensure that we are presenting a brand and programs that show we are environmental stewards of the air land, and water in our Province. 12:31 Jason Markusoff: Question for Mr. Horner: What can you do to convince voters you aren't just the "rural" candidate? 12:31 Jason Markusoff: (I'm going to bring up the climate-change science question after the debate ends at 1pm, in a post-game chat with Herald and Journal columnists) 12:32 Doug Horner: My resume, International trade, Built several business in Alberta and around the World. Like many Albertans I am proud of my rural roots, but have not been on the farm since I was under 18. I have lived and worked in over 20 countries around the World. My business background is based on what Alberta's strengths are. 12:34 Gary Mar: Doug has represented our province well in places like NYC where he has moved our research agenda forward. 12:34 Jason Markusoff: How do the other two fend off perceptions that under you, power will shift substantially to the cities? 12:34 Alison Redford: Interesting question from the perspective that so many of the issues in this campaign have not been urban or rural issues - is health care an urban issue or rural? Education? Seniors care? Let's all stop creating a false paradigm. Let's deal with the issues that matter. 12:34 Doug Horner: Alison has a great point 12:34 Jason Markusoff: Now, a question directly to Ms. Redford: Recently, you have been fairly critical of Gary Mar -- to the point of advising that supporters choose Horner as second choice on the ballot. How comfortable would you feel serving in the cabinet and/or caucus of a Premier Mar? 12:35 Gary Mar: I've maintained all along that I will represent Albertans across our province. We need a Premier that represents not just urban or rural but all Albertans. Just yesterday I visited seniors in Camrose and farmers in St. Paul. Today I'll be meeting with Albertans in Calgary & Edmonton. 12:35 Doug Horner: It does not matter where you lay your head down to sleep but how you lead 12:37 Alison Redford: I think that as a PC Party we owe it to Albertans to fully explore all options in a leadership campaign as part of vibrant party debate - this will build our party. As a member of the party for over 30 years, I have served in many capacities. I will continue that beyond Saturday. 12:38 Jason Markusoff: Will the other two commit to running in the next election if they don't win, and to serving in cabinet if asked? 12:38 Gary Mar: Yes 12:38 Alison Redford: Absolutely. I have won my nomination. 12:38 Doug Horner: I already have regardless of the outcome Saturday, proudly 12:38 Keith Gerein: Let's move on with a tough question from a Journal reader -- What would you name as your biggest failing or regret from your time in government? Name a decision you were involved in that you wish you could take back? 12:39 Gary Mar: Kelley Charlebois' contract. 12:39 Doug Horner: LOL 12:39 Jason Markusoff: Horner, that can't be your answer. 12:40 Gary Mar: We learn from our successes and we also learn from our mistakes. 12:40 Doug Horner: I would have liked to have the communication around the Royalty Review done differently. 12:41 Alison Redford: I am sorry, we are going to have to cut this debate short. Many apologies from the Alison Redford campaign. 12:41 Alison Redford: Sorry - I am back. 12:42 Keith Gerein: Mr. Mar, that bears a followup. What would you have done differently? 12:42 Doug Horner: Hope all is well 12:42 Alison Redford: Thank you. I will let you know soon. Fine for now. 12:43 Gary Mar: In hindsight I would've ensured better documentation of all the very good work that he did. 12:43 Jason Markusoff: Let's move on to a question from Herald reader David Wright: Albertans are asking for change and a reversal over the past 5 years. Each of you is promising that, yet surrounding yourselves with people who played a major role, or you yourself played a major role, in the decisions of the past. How do you reconcile that? 12:43 Gary Mar: I left the Alberta Legislature in 2007, in my estimation the decisions in the last few years have reflected that the government has been doing too much telling and not enough listening. We must engage Albertans to solve the challenges we are facing in areas such as health care and education. 12:46 Alison Redford: There are some great people in Caucus who have not yet been given the opportunity to lead. I know they are committed to bringing new perspectives and approaches to solutions for Albertans. I know I can build a cabinet of fresh thinkers who bring a generational change and who are not caught in the ways of the past. They know we can do better. I am going to give them a chance. 12:46 Doug Horner: The change that I have been advocating is in how we make decisions, not dollars and dogma but thru the lens of our values as PC's. Lets make investment decisions around outcomes not percentages. The team I have have all agreed that is where we need to be. As P Lougheed said an activist govt. one that gets the job done 12:46 Keith Gerein: On to the next question. Former leadership candidate Ted Morton vowed to roll back the 30-per-cent-plus pay increases for politicians from 2008. Will you roll those hefty increases back - why/why not? 12:46 Gary Mar: I've committed to an independent review of MLA pay. Politicians should not be setting their own pay packets. 12:47 Alison Redford: I have stated that an independent commission must be set up to review all aspects of MLA salary. It must be completed within 120 days of my being elected leader. 12:47 Doug Horner: I have committed to establishing an arms length commission of Albertans who have exoertise in these issues, and will follow thru with this in the first 120 days, at the end of the day elected officials still vote on the budget. 12:48 Jason Markusoff: This question comes from reader Gord Waldie: What concrete steps would you take to tackle the issue of child poverty? Please do not answer in the form of a weblink. 12:48 Gary Mar: Wrap around services in school are key to not only identify children that need additional assistance but to provide support for them in a timely fashion. 12:49 Doug Horner: The best way to combat poverty is to ensure that the supports, educational opportunities, and job opportunities are available. We need to be able to provide a life plan for those in need and empower our frontline staff. 12:50 Gary Mar: Homelessness is often a significant factor in poverty and I would continue with Premier Stelmach's Plan to End Homelessness. 12:50 Alison Redford: We need a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy. Saying that a strong economy alleviates poverty does not work. We are changing education. Full day kindergarten. Stronger day care options. And programs that identify kids at risk faster. Their moms need support. And poverty isn't homelessness. Kids in poverty need food. They need health care. They need our help. that is governments job. 12:51 Keith Gerein: One Journal reader wants to know about your infrastructure plans. Are you in favour of building a high-speed train between Edmonton and Calgary, and would you be willing to put money towards the project in an upcoming next budget? 12:51 Doug Horner: yes, we have that in our policy 12:51 Gary Mar: We should think about acquiring the land to run such a high speed rail link. It can be used in the interim for things like transmission lines, pipelines and dedicated truck lines. In the future have the ability to put in a rail link if it makes economic sense. 12:52 Alison Redford: I have fiscal plan that encourages us to save for projects like the High Speed Train. It really is not a necessity. But it will make our province stronger and unite our communities north to south. Save for it. And then we can build it. 12:52 Jason Markusoff: what dollar figure do you have in your platform and for what budget years, Mr. Horner? 12:52 Gary Mar: Alison, why would you save for something that you think isn't a necessity? 12:54 Doug Horner: We have already identified a good portion of the right of way, we should move ahead with it before another ring road. I am told the next ring road could be 7 billion, we have interested parties who need to be approached to see what type of partnership opportunities exist. 12:54 Jason Markusoff: Ms. Redford, before we move on do you have a reply to Mar? 12:54 Alison Redford: It is important it is not something that we need to do in the next twelve months - long term planning is important to our future success! 12:54 Keith Gerein: A question from our reader forum. How quickly will you twin Highway 63 to Fort McMurray? 12:55 Doug Horner: As soon as it can be done 12:55 Gary Mar: We need to twin Hwy 63 as quickly as possible and look at other transportation options such as air and rail. 12:55 Alison Redford: I have said it is critical - there is not reason that it has not been done - except lack of planning - we can do it now. 12:55 Jason Markusoff: We've covered a ton of ground in this debate. Time for two last Qs What or who it the biggest external threat to the Progressive Conservative party extending its dynasty as government for four more years, and beyond? 12:56 Doug Horner: I would also look at rail and completion of the connection across to Peace River 12:56 Gary Mar: Our greatest threat is internal not external. We must have leadership that will engage our members. 12:56 Alison Redford: We need to understand we are not entitled to govern. We need to earn the trust of Albertans everyday. Albertans are telling me - they want change. They want smart government. They want a fresh approach to old problems. 12:57 Gary Mar: Renewing our party is a priority and I've laid out my plan at 12:57 Doug Horner: Our threat is not defining ourselves and presenting to Albertans a vision for the future about what we can be not just how much we have in the bank. We need to earn the faith and trust of Albertans 12:57 Keith Gerein: We've got just a few minutes left in our debate with the three PC leadership candidates. As a followup to that last question: What do you think will or should be the defining issue in the next general election? 12:58 Alison Redford: Change and trust in leadership. 12:58 Gary Mar: A clear plan forward for Alberta. 12:58 Doug Horner: The future of our Province and the leadership to get us there, in healthcare and education. 12:59 Jason Markusoff: That's sadly all the time we have left, and rumour has it these three candidates are fairly busy this week. Thank you all for participating, and to readers for your questions and for following along. Please stay with us for the next half-hour for some a post-chat chat with Herald columnist Don Braid and Journal columnist Paula Simons 12:59 Alison Redford: Thank you all very much. 12:59 Gary Mar: Thanks everyone for watching. Please vote on Saturday October 1. 12:59 Jason Markusoff: One thing has become clear: our next premier will have a respectable WPM rate (words per minute) 12:59 Doug Horner: Thanks to the Journal and Herald for the venue! All the best 1:00 Keith Gerein: Thanks everyone for tuning in. It shoudl be an exciting last few days on the campaign trail 1:00 Jason Markusoff: Thanks guys. 1:00 Jason Markusoff: Please stay with us for the next half-hour for some a post-chat chat with Herald columnist Don Braid and Journal columnist Paula Simons 1:00 David Blackwell: The post-debate debate abd analysis continues in the box below. And you can always replay the candidates' debate at your leisure on this page. Read more: