Like most who live in Wood Buffalo, Mike Keller works in the oilsands.
He says he saw how the current economic climate gripping the province left 100,000 out of work.
So, when his friend Mark Grinder approached him about the Alberta Independence Party, he decided to get involved.
“Mark was involved with the Alberta Independence Party for a while, and thought I would be open to their platform. I did my research, and liked what they were presenting.”
Keller will run for the party in the Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo riding.
It’s his first time running for office, but the 23-year resident and heavy-duty technician believes his party’s platform is ideal for the region.
“Lower taxes, individually as well as corporate. Our platform is eight and half per cent corporate tax for Alberta companies, and personal tax is 20 per cent flat tax.”
Keller admits the Alberta Independence Party raises eyebrows.
Some argue not voting for the Alberta NDP or United Conservative Party would “split the vote”.
He is more than happy to explain to prospective voters why they should a vote for the Alberta Independence Party.
“We’re looking at the people, who [are] not necessarily are strongly affiliated with another political party, and are open to new suggestions, new ideas. Independence: It’s something new, but unfortunately that’s the only way that we can get things turned around in Alberta.”
Keller adds a vote for Independence is a vote against the federal government.
He believes Ottawa turned their back on the province citing the growing debt and equalization payments.
“It’s not just the oil and gas industry, everybody’s hurting. The federal government doesn’t really seem to care that 100,000 or more [are] out of work. That has spin-off effects with restaurants, clothing stores, and grocery stores.”
What Keller and the Alberta Independence Party would like to see are the three pipelines going to international markets.
Currently, Keller argues Canada fell behind as changes to oil production and shipping by IMO 2020 may render Trans Mountain obsolete.
“In 2020, the Burnaby port is going to be obsolete, so this whole idea of the pipeline going to Burnaby is under false pretences. Canadian taxpayers are going to be paying five billion dollars for nothing.”
Mike Keller will knock on doors during his days off from the site.
It’s a lot to digest, but Keller urges residents to do their homework on all the parties before they head to the polls on April 16.