This morning from 8:30 to around 10 a.m., Leela Aheer met with Strathmore residents at PJ's Diner to discuss her vision for the future, as well as the pressing concerns that residents wanted to speak with her about.

According to Aheer, she met with more than 20 people, which she said was a great turnout. She added she's done similar events like this with smaller groups of 5-10 people, and is always happy for the opportunity to meet with people in a smaller setting.

"It's not about big rallies, it's about eyeball to eyeball conversations," she said.

"You have honest conversations with people, and they're able to see you. they can see you, they can feel you, they can feel your energy, what you stand for. They ask very difficult questions, and it's one of the most healing things, it's been good for my soul to talk to people."

Aheer said the most common issues she talked about was unifying the province and the UCP, healthcare, and education.

On unification, Aheer said she would put an emphasis on creating good policies for the sake of Albertans, instead of fighting over left vs right ideology. Rather than point fingers and blame each other, she wants to work with experts to find solutions to structural and systematic issues that need to be addressed. 

"We end up in these ground wars between left and right, and the people of our communities end up being the collateral damage of those ground wars. The people are done. They're done with fighting, they're done with arguing, they want to see collaboration, they want to see common sense, they want to see good policies that aren't ideologically left or right, they want solid policies that is good for their community."

This doesn't mean she's opposed to ideological legislation; rather, if she is premier she wouldn't allow legislation to go through simply because of ideology.

"You're there for the people, not the premier. You're not there for the ideology, you are there to create good policies that benefit the province. All of us benefit from that. And if people have pieces of legislation that they want to bring forward that are ideological, by all means. But I can guarantee you I'll be debating you as your premier in the legislature making sure that people understand where that piece of legislation is coming from. It might be a piece of legislation I don't agree with, that's fine. I'm going to debate you on it, let's give the people of Alberta a chance to see where that MLA is coming from."

She added that unifying the province is all about showing everybody respect. She mentioned that conservatives are a very large spectrum of people, so even within her own party there could be many different points of view. On top of this, her approach as leader would be to serve the province, not have the province serving her interests

"It's not about supporting the premier, the premier has to support her MLAs and her cabinet. It's not a top down, it's a foundation you have to build together and it's a management style of really being intuitive and thoughtful as to all the issues going on."

On healthcare, Aheer said there are many things she would look at to address the doctor shortage. These included but were not limited to: helping LPNs (licensed practical nurse) become RNs (registered nurse) faster, working with communities to make sure the doctors are serving them as they need it, and finding ways to make nursing school more accessible to talented people.

On education, Aheer spoke on many topics, but funding was a big focus for her.

"There's absolutely no reason why a government like ours cant look into the future of what our spending is going to be and what's coming into the province to make sure that we're hedging out 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, for predictable and sustainable funding. Student learning should never be part of austerity."

"The last place we should be cutting money from is education"

Aheer mentioned that the first things cut from education is EAs and special needs care. She says this is unacceptable and would work to protect these valuable services.

Today is the last day to buy a UCP membership and vote for who the premier will be, so if you're interested in making your voice heard make sure you do it before midnight.

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