By Trevor Busch
Cardston-Taber-Warner MLA Grant Hunter said he has no plans to seek the UCP nomination in the new riding of Cardston-Siksika, even though he currently resides in the riding that will come into effect for the 2019 provincial election.
Following a meeting earlier this year with party leader Jason Kenney and current Little Bow MLA Dave Schneider, whose area will become the new riding of Cardston-Siksika in 2019, Hunter announced his intention to seek the UCP nomination for the new Taber-Warner riding in late February. But in mid-April, Schneider announced he would not be seeking the nomination for Cardston-Siksika and will retire from politics, opening up the UCP nomination for that riding.
“Dave and I and Jason Kenney sat down three months ago and had to decide, because both him and I were in the same riding,” said Hunter. “He was in Vulcan, I was in Cardston, so rather than do what the NDP would love us to do, which is fight amongst incumbents — and at that time Dave had indicated that he was probably going to run. Rather than fighting with each other, we made a gentlemen’s agreement that he would run in the Cardston-Siksika riding, and I would run in the Taber-Warner riding.”
The new Taber-Warner riding encompasses portions of the current riding but also includes Coaldale, Milk River, Bow Island, Foremost and hamlets right to the County of Forty Mile’s eastern border. The Old Man and South Saskatchewan Rivers form the northern boundary. Cardston-Siksika forms a tall, hourglass-shaped riding stretching north and south of the city of Lethbridge. Its boundaries extend all the way from the U.S. border to a section of the Trans-Canada Highway.
Cardston and Magrath will now share an MLA with Coalhurst, Picture Butte and Vauxhall along with communities in Vulcan County and the Siksika First Nation.
For Hunter, Schneider’s announcement hasn’t changed his mind about the Taber-Warner riding.
“Three-quarters of my riding right now, the Cardston-Taber-Warner riding, is going to be that Taber-Warner riding, and three-quarters of the Cardston-Siksika riding is the Little Bow riding right now. That’s how that worked out. Dave pulled out, and that does give me an option of moving over into the other riding, but I’ve already made my announcement, I’ve already started the process of being nominated in my area, and so we’re going to carry on with that.”
Hunter has represented Cardston-Taber-Warner since May 2015. Although not right away, Hunter confirmed that he plans to relocate to Taber-Warner once his children have finished high school. Former Taber mayor Henk DeVlieger has taken on the position of Hunter’s campaign manager in the upcoming nomination race.
MLA Schneider originally stated he would be seeking re-election in an interview with The Vauxhall Advance last year, but during the intervening months since he changed his mind, citing long drives and time away from family as reasons to step away.