Beth Barberree is the Alberta Party candidate in Calgary-Varsity. She is a small business owner.
The Gauntlet: Why should students vote for you?
Beth Barberree: I think I bring a combination of unique perspectives, experience and education into the legislature. I’ve been a small business owner and I think that’s given me some insights as far as the impact of spending. And as far as the Alberta Party goes, I really am drawn to the party because their values really overlap with mine, in that making choices and making decisions for the sake of it always having been done that way — that doesn’t fly for me. I think we need to be more responsive and more forward-thinking and proactive in our decision-making, and I think when you get rooted in ideology, as far as just making a decision because that’s a party choice, for example, that’s a party philosophy. We need the opportunity to factor in all of the pertinent information related to decision-making.
As far as specifically for students’ interest in me, I think there’s a couple of things the Alberta Party brings. We want to support students in two ways. One is direct financial benefits for the students and the other is working with the actual post-secondary system to be responsive so that we can evolve as the world economy does. As far as the individuals go, we recognize that we should have an ongoing review of student financing programs and Alberta-funded loans.
Gauntlet: In your opinion, what are some of the biggest issues facing constituents in Calgary-Varsity?
Barberree: In the context of the greater community, certainly folks I’ve reached out to have mentioned things such as ensuring that we’ve got affordable housing, and that’s not just for young folks, such as students, but also seniors. And we’ve got some ideas around having a young person/older person synergy happening, wherein maybe there’s an opportunity for some older folks to have student tenants within their space on a lower cost. It would kind of be an exchange on a companionship thing, where you have a trustworthy individual with another trustworthy individual cohabiting. They can help out one another with the things they need attention on such as shoveling the walk.
Certainly, we’re concerned about getting people back to work and the Alberta Party wants to bring focus on small and medium sized businesses to bridge the gap a little bit as far as what we’re getting as revenues from taxation dollars cause people are working, you know, they’re paying taxes regardless of what the amount is.
Gauntlet: The current government has tied post-secondary tuition in Alberta to the rate of inflation. Do you think that this is an appropriate solution for students?
Barberree: I haven’t seen so far what the current government is doing on that front. I can speak more to what the Alberta Party would be interested in doing and certainly that is something that we have spoken about being supportive of, is that tying that increase to inflation. So I would say we’re fairly aligned that way, but our delivery of how that looks, we may be taking a more proactive approach to those things.
Gauntlet: Do you support a lower minimum wage for youth workers?
Barberree: That’s an interesting one — I can certainly see the two sides of that conversation in that one, do we have a lesser wage so that we can drive those jobs to the youth workers? On the other side, they’re hard workers too, so you know they deserve pay for the effort they’re putting in. What the Alberta Party is proposing is that we work more with the small business owners and business owners in general to make sure that if there’s a struggle with that minimum wage, that we can support the businesses in other manners. We will not see a drop in the minimum wage with an Alberta Party government.
Gauntlet: Many are considering this a two-party election between the NDP and the UCP. What are your thoughts on that and how will you convince voters to vote for you?
Barberree: Certainly the two parties that are driving that narrative will have folks believe that it’s a two-horse race. You know, certainly, we believe that both of those voices are from fairly opposite ends of the spectrum, I don’t think we could argue that. But just a balanced choice in the middle I think is the right way to go, and I say that because it allows us to reflect and respond to where we need to. When we start taking a step back and realizing that we have the power as voters to choose what we want, then we’ll start seeing a government that we actually want, rather than voting to save us from what we don’t want.
Further on that note, a perfect example is being able to advocate for pipelines but still having solid and sustainable environmental practices. You don’t have to have the either/or. You can have the and. We can promote our oil and gas sector and still recognize that we have the need to diversify the economy.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Read our other candidate interviews here: