Q and A with St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud
Marie Renaud was elected as one of two St. Albert MLAs in the 2015 election.
Prior to her win she was the executive director of Lo-Se-Ca Foundation, a not-for-profit that provides residential and day support to adults with developmental disabilities.
Renaud holds a university certificate in counselling women from the women's and gender studies department at the University of Alberta and a diploma in community disability studies from MacEwan University.
Renaud currently sits on the Standing Committees on Public Accounts and the Select Special Ethics and Accountability Committee.
She sat down with the Gazette’s editorial board to discuss the most important issues facing Albertans.
Gazette: When you look at Alberta’s economy what do you think is necessary to turn things around at this stage and how necessary are the pipelines?
Renaud: I think the pipelines are very important. I think its good to get oil sands crude to new markets. I think our biggest purchaser, the United States, is now our competitor. It’s vital to get a pipeline or an expansion of the pipeline going west. It seems like we will have better luck.
This is something, you might not hear it in the news or in print, but this is something we talk about all the time. Just the necessity of it and the work that they are doing behind the scenes so this isn’t something that she (Premier Rachel Notley) just takes a jab at here and there. It’s been a huge focus and I think there has been a lot of work done. I’m really quite confident that they will make progress. I think they are doing all of the right things. They’ve demonstrated that we are serious about the environment and about climate.
Gazette: Municipalities across Canada have taken a stand against pipelines along with many first nations groups. Do you expect that you are going to be able to change minds?
Renaud: I don’t think we can change peoples minds necessarily. I think if people are going to believe something then that’s what they are going to believe. Where I see being successful is around negotiating. Its about coming to a decision. The reality is this is a Canadian resource and we rely on it. We are hurting and all of Canada is going to continue to feel this. Its going to have implications all over the place. Its about negotiating. Its safe. Pipelines are safer than by rail.
Gazette: What is motivating the change in curriculum?
Renaud: I think you will hear from teachers saying you need to be current. You constantly need to be looking at what are you teaching them how are you teaching them. This is our single greatest resource, our children, so its certainly worth it.
Gazette: How is the Minister of Health going to cut costs in this economic environment?
Renaud: I think three priorities that they have continuously talked about is (1) physician compensation. They are getting some movement and they have been working on this for quite some time. (2) Looking at the cost of the cost of drugs – when can you use generic drugs. (3) This sounds like a warm and fuzzy topic but also looking at prevention and awareness of health.
Gazette: Do you think you will receive an extension to the mandate of the ethics committee?
Renaud: Part of me hopes yes, part of me hopes no. I don’t know. It was a good learning experience. I’ve been on a few contentious committees in my time but nothing like that. I think its really important work.
It worked really well when we were focused on what were obvious solutions around whistleblowers it was great. There was a lot of harmony in the room. When we got to election financing we knew there was going to be some fireworks. It’s the right thing to do and we need some changes for sure. I’m not sure what will happen.
Gazette: What are the most pressing issues the Alberta government needs to address in the coming year?
Renaud: Obviously we need to make sure the people that aren’t working, are working and that we create as many good paying jobs as possible. That we look at getting people back to work. We need to look at immediate needs but also start to look at going in a different direction. This has happened a number of times that it has crashed. I hope that we have learned this time that we need to do things differently.
We need to make sure don’t just talk about diversification. That we are not just laying out these plans but that we are working hard to make sure they happen and monitor them and making sure that they are doing what we said we are going to do. And if not, then we need to adjust them.
That’s obviously where we are bleeding and we should take care of that first. But I do think there are a lot of things to clean up. My fear I guess from a human service background, is that I think sometimes when you are in crisis like this where a lot of people are unemployed and a lot of people are hurting you tend to forget about the other things. There are so many other things that we need to keep in mind as well. Whether it’s employment for people with disabilities or the astronomical number of people who are in violent situations or food bank usage. Our mental health supports really need some help.