Don Whalen, an entrepreneur and lay preacher from Parkland, Alta., announced Sunday, Nov. 18, that he will seek the United Conservative Party’s nomination to represent Livingstone-Macleod in the next provincial election.
In his first media interview Wednesday, Whalen said he would file his papers as soon as the party reopens the nomination, probably after Christmas.
Incumbent MLA Roger Reid announced Nov. 1 that he would not seek re-election. The UCP later rejected a nomination bid and subsequent appeal by former People’s Party candidate Nadine Wellwood, citing recent social media posts in which she likened vaccine passports and other pandemic health measures to Nazi Germany.
Next spring’s election would be Whalen’s first run for public office, he said. The nomination hopeful aligns himself closely with Premier Danielle Smith, calling himself “a lifelong conservative” and a former Wildrose voter.
“I’m liking what the premier is doing: She’s not afraid to stand up for what she believes in.”
Whalen said he wants to serve in the legislature to be the voice of disaffected voters in the riding.
“I’m really concerned about the direction our province and country have been going in over the last two to three years. People are being marginalized and they’re not being heard.”
Taking aim at the federal government and former premier Jason Kenney, Whalen said pandemic health measures had gone too far.
“Our personal rights and freedoms were just trampled on, and the Charter (of Rights and Freedoms) was just a piece of paper for a couple of years.”
Whalen said public health policy should be informed by medical science, but lamented that pandemic measures had been overtly politicized.
“During Covid, Deena Hinshaw,” Alberta’s chief public health officer until Smith fired her Nov. 14, “was the most important person in Alberta, and we had non-elected officials basically deciding everything for us,” he said.
Looking ahead to Smith’s long-promised Alberta Sovereignty Act, Whalen said the province doesn’t need legislation to assert its jurisdiction over things like natural resources. He was also highly critical of pending federal legislation he said would “confiscate” hundreds of local gun owners to give up their guns, but stopped short of advocating separatism.
“I’m an Albertan. But, I’m also a Canadian. I am concerned that it’s going to be very hard to change things with Ottawa, so I’m stepping up to be a voice for that change in a positive way.”
On climate change, Whalen said he opposes the federal carbon tax, but supports the development of clean-burning energy.
Whalen said he co-owns a small buy-and-sell business with a friend. He is also a lay preacher, taking the pulpit about once a month at Fort Macleod’s House of Prayer.