Shaun Fluker of Cochrane has announced he is seeking the nomination as the Alberta NDP candidate in the Airdrie-Cochrane riding for the 2023 provincial election.
This is Fluker’s first foray into politics and he’s excited to compete with Steve Durrell, who is also seeking the riding’s nomination for Alberta’s NDP.
The Cochrane resident is a life-long Albertan, outside of a three-year stint in law school in Victoria, B.C. As a lawyer for 25 years and an associate professor of law at the University of Calgary, Fluker has focused much of his work on public policy and law.
“I've had plenty of opportunity to engage in public policy issues and most of the attention has been directed within Alberta. I feel like I have a decent handle on what the primary policy issues are in this province, certainly at the provincial level but also at the local level,” Fluker said.
As for what motivated him to enter the political realm, Fluker believes this is a pivotal time for Alberta and that it's important to have a healthy and engaged democratic process going forward.
“It's healthy for everyone to have a robust democracy, so part of that means making sure that we have a number of really good candidates in all the parties that want to seek the riding,” he said.
In a press release sent out on March 28, Fluker claimed the United Conservative Party (UCP) has shown over the past three years that they are willing to “dismantle” public institutions that matter to Albertans. He used post-secondary education as an example.
“I'm in the post-secondary sector. The UCP has drastically cut base operating funding to the universities and colleges in Alberta and I'd like to see that funding restored,” he said.
On a more local level, he addressed the ongoing concerns around Emergency Medical Services (EMS) response in the outlying regions of Calgary. Ambulances continue to be dispatched out of communities like Airdrie and Cochrane in order to service other areas, which is something that requires change, he said.
If elected, he first hopes to learn a lot more from the people involved in emergency response and work with them to seek solutions.
“Step one for me is to speak with the people that can really bring me fully up to speed on what the root of those problems are and that's what I expect to do in the short future,” he said.
Another issue affecting the Airdrie-Cochrane area directly is how municipalities are funded, he added.
“Municipalities bear a large amount of responsibility to ensure the people that live within the municipality get the services they need. But the municipalities are also significantly constrained on how they can raise funds and balance their budgets, so I think that is something that needs to be tackled,” he said.
Other areas he mentioned include privatization of provincial parks and implementing user fees in Kananaskis Country, eroding trust in the governance of public service pensions, and the K-6 school curriculum, which the NDP have already indicated they would seek to reverse.
Fluker acknowledged the vast size of the Airdrie-Cochrane riding and plans to make an effort to get out and meet many of the region’s residents.
“I live in Cochrane so obviously it's easier for me to get around town. I will be making the effort to get to Airdrie and visit the folks that live within this electoral district,” he said. “Absolutely it’s a challenge to cover the large amount of territory that's within this electoral district.”
He said Airdrie comprises a significant component of the district and he is taking it upon himself to speak to residents of the city and the rest of the riding to make sure he fully understands what provincial issues matter most to them.
Residents are encouraged to visit his campaign page on Facebook and get involved in the upcoming election.
Both nominee contestants, Fluker and Durrell, will soon be available at a meet-and-greet event in Airdrie. The date and location are yet to be announced.
Durrell previously ran as an NDP candidate for Airdrie-Cochrane in 2019, placing second with 25.2 per cent of the vote behind UCP candidate Peter Guthrie, who is now the riding’s MLA.