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Ric McIver vows to eliminate DriveAble, review Simard MD

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EDMONTON — Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ric McIver says he made some mistakes when serving in Alison Redford’s cabinet, but will rectify them if he wins the premier’s job.

Borrowing a page from populist premier Ralph Klein, the former infrastructure and transportation minister noted he cut funding to two infrastructure programs during a period of fiscal restraint following the 2012 election.

But speaking Wednesday in Edmonton, the former Calgary alderman said he will make it a priority to restore millions of dollars chopped from sewage and water treatment programs and bridge, airport and resource road programs if he wins the September Tory leadership vote.

McIver also distanced himself from former premier Redford and the so-called sky palace controversy by vowing to only have one office in the capital city if he wins the top job.

But McIver told about 25 seniors at a downtown Edmonton seniors residence he wasn’t perfect.

“I’m very proud of my record in government, but I have made mistakes,” he said.

McIver owned up to slashing a strategic transportation infrastructure program, a water and wastewater partnership, and the Water for Life initiative during the 2012 budget crunch that he said should now be reinstated.

He said the cuts chopped $135 million to $195 million from the budget.

“We took that money out of the budget at a time when revenues fell short of what we expected, but not putting it back is a mistake that needs to be fixed,” he said.

McIver, one of three declared candidates in the PC leadership contest, promised to restore the programs before the next provincial election.

The MLA for Calgary-Hays said it was also a mistake to force seniors to submit to a computer program to test their driving ability when many are unfamiliar with computer technology.

He vowed to eliminate a testing program called Driveable and to review the use of another exam known as the Simard-MD system.

While safety on Alberta highways will remain a paramount concern, McIver said there are other methods of testing driver fitness and competence.

Ruth Adria of the Elder Advocates of Alberta Society applauded McIver for his commitment to eliminate the Driveable testing protocol.

Adria said requiring seniors over 75 to take the $250 test, which is provided through a private company, is unfair.

“There’s anguish across the province — an agony of seniors losing their licenses,” she said.

Following his speech, McIver told reporters he was committed to releasing the names of his campaign donors before the first vote in September “because transparency and accountability has to be more than lip service.”

Independent pollster and political analyst Janet Brown said McIver is positioning himself as the candidate who will “prove the Redford days are over” and the Tories have learned from past mistakes.

“He’s clearly trying to paint himself as the person who is going to sort of rectify the sins of the last government,” Brown said.

“Everyone is sort of treating Redford and the Redford years as the elephant in the room. It seems like he’s prepared to really address that head on — and not pretend it wasn’t as bad as it was.”

With files from Chris Varcoe, Calgary Herald

Courtesy The Calgary Herald

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