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Liberal Alida Hess hoping for a minority government


Alida Hess wants voters in the Livingstone-Macleod constituency to break from tradition May 5 with a vote for the Liberal Party.
Hess said Saturday it is time Albertans dumped the Progressive Conservative government in favour of a party with more social conscience and compassion.
“We have to get rid of the Conservatives,” Hess said. “It’s about time.”
A long-time Liberal, Hess lives in Lethbridge but is running in the Livingstone-Macleod riding to ensure supporters can vote for their party on Tuesday, May 5.
That’s the same approach she took in 1997 when she campaigned in the provincial Little Bow riding, earning 2,075 votes to place second behind Progressive Conservative Barry McFarland.
“Running was a good experience,” said Hess, who funded that campaign on her own. “I just did it as a favour, and that’s what I’m doing now.”
Hess has no plans to hit the campaign trail in the huge Livingstone-Macleod riding, instead directing people interested in Liberal policies to the party’s Web site.
Hess is hopeful residents in Livingstone-Macleod are ready for a change in political representation, and felt it important to put her party’s name on the ballot to provide that choice.
Hess immigrated to Canada from Holland in 1957 at the age of 20. Her father had worked in Canada and returned home in 1956 speaking glowingly about the opportunities the country offered.
“He said, ‘Go to Canada’,” Hess recalled.
Hess landed in Calgary, where her three brothers had also taken up residence, not being able to speak a word of English and went to work as a maid. Later she got a job with Dominion Stores, a national chain of supermarkets in Canada.
Fred Hess, who had immigrated to Vancouver from Germany in 1955, accepted a transfer through his employer, Dominion Stores, to Calgary, where he met Alida. They were married in 1959.
In 1967 Fred and Alida moved to Lethbridge where they established Fred’s Bakery at 13th Street and Fifth Avenue North.
They ran the popular business for over 30 years while raising their daughters Jacqueline, Ingrid and Monica. Fred died in January at the age of 83.
The Hesses were strong Liberal supporters, and during the years that Pierre Trudeau was leading the federal party they would host fund-raising barbecues.
Hess said she believes in a “just society,” something that she said does not exist at present in Alberta under the Progressive Conservative government, which has held power for 43 years.
Hess said the Progressive Conservatives depend heavily on financial support from big corporations, whose interests have nothing in common with average Albertans.
Decades with a majority government have allowed the Progressive Conservatives to enforce their will on Albertans.
Hess is hopeful, based on recent polls, that the province could end up with a minority government on May 5.
“That would be really good,” Hess said.
The New Democrats under leader Rachel Notley have climbed the polls to run neck and neck with Wildrose, with the Progressive Conservatives in third place.
“I’m scared of the Wildrose Party,” Hess said. “They would be worse than the Conservatives.”
Hess said a minority government would work together on initiatives that benefit average Albertans, not the interests of a single party more interested in re-election than helping people.
“They will probably get more for royalties,” Hess said of the oil and gas industry. “It’s criminal what we get for royalties now. If we got the proper amount for royalties we wouldn’t have any debt.”
Hess said if Alberta received higher oil and gas royalties, post-secondary education could be free in the province just as it is in Europe.
“We’re such a rich province,” Hess said. “If we got the proper amount of royalties.”
Hess said decades of majority Progressive Conservative governments have served to turn people away from politics because they believe their vote will not make a difference.
“People are not informed. That’s our biggest problem,” Hess said. “We should have more young people voting. If young people voted, it would be very different. I don’t think we would have so many Conservatives.”
Alberta appears ready for a change, Hess said, with the New Democrats making serious gains. In her opinion, Rachel Notley won the televised debate on Thursday night.
“She’s really smart,” Hess said of Notley.
Hess likes Liberal leader David Swann and the party’s policies, and is hopeful Albertans will give them serious consideration ahead of the election.
The province could wake up May 6 to a new-look government, possibly with a New Democrat-Liberal minority government.
“I hope so,” Hess said. “I’m keeping my fingers crossed. The NDP looks really good. I think the Conservatives are scared.”

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