Peter Guthrie, a former small business owner and rancher, announced Jan. 27 he would seek the United Conservative Party (UCP) nomination in Airdrie-Cochrane, becoming the first to announce in the riding.
Since his announcement, Guthrie said he has been travelling throughout the area, meeting residents and business owners across various industries.
“In these discussions, I’m trying to get a good feel for what the issues are and what should be our key focus areas,” Guthrie said.
“The key word that’s an issue in Alberta is the word ‘uncertainty.’ That’s what we need to alleviate – we’re not getting investment in this province because of uncertainty.”
Born in Ontario, Guthrie and his family travelled west to settle in Fort Saskatchewan, where he completed high school. After completing a degree in chemical engineering at the University of Alberta, Guthrie pursued a career in the pulp and paper sector.
A family tragedy led Guthrie to take over the family ranch in the village of Consort. In 2009, Guthrie purchased a business in northeast Calgary and moved his family to Cochrane, where he still resides.
Guthrie said his diverse background would be an asset were he to secure the UCP nomination in Airdrie-Cochrane.
“I know this whole province and I feel really strongly that I can represent this entire riding quite easily – not only in one specific field, but in multiple fields,” he said.
Guthrie said he decided to run for provincial politics on May 5, 2015 – the date of the last provincial election, when the Alberta Progressive Conservative (PC) party dropped 61 seats and the NDP secured a majority government.
“I had always voted PC, but I really wasn’t happy with what I was seeing within the party. On election day, I just got this sense that we were going to be in trouble for the next four years, financially,” he said.
“With the (PC) party effectively being decimated, that’s when I first felt a strong affinity towards wanting to run for the position of MLA.”
Guthrie cited the carbon tax, corporate taxes and bureaucratic red tape as among issues lending to a culture of uncertainty within the province, which he said had led investors to look outside Alberta.
“The NDP government is constantly imposing new rules – for instance, the labour regulations that came out in the beginning of the year. These things are done by surprise, without proper consultation,” he said.
“It just leaves markets uncertain as to what’s going to happen next. So, we have some areas that we need to work on in order to settle investors and make them feel more comfortable.”
As a representative for the Town of Cochrane, Guthrie said he would push for specific small business tax credits to help offset reduced profits.
“With the minimum wage increase, the carbon tax and the labour regulation changes, they’ve been hit by one thing after another,” he said.
“We need to advocate for a tax credit that can bridge the gap until we can get this ship turned around.”
Guthrie said he would seek to repeal the carbon tax and push for further consultation on the Enhanced Protection for Farm and Ranch Workers Act, otherwise known as Bill 6.
“I think we at least have to review and repeal it, most likely. If (farmers) do need support in the area of insurance and these kinds of things, we can do proper consultation with them and provide them with a solution,” he said.
“Not force something down their throat that doesn’t work.”
The founding annual general meeting for the UCP is scheduled May 4 to 6 in Red Deer. Guthrie said as MLA for Airdrie-Cochrane, he would advocate for residents in a variety of capacities.
“(I want) a unified United Conservative Party going forward. I can use my experience, my personal experience as a family man and as a business person to help get this party off on the right foot,” he said.