Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith ripped into the Redford government on Monday for its decision to cancel the police college.
Smith questioned the leadership of Premier Alison Redford for letting a letter from Calgary and Edmonton police chiefs derail 13 years of planning.
Smith also slammed the government for the way it handled the decision, making the announcement by news release without first talking to Fort Macleod.
“It’s a disgraceful way to treat a community,” Smith told reporters.
Smith and Livingstone-Macleod MLA Pat Stier were in Fort Macleod on Monday to meet with the mayor and council, as well as business owners.
Following the meeting at the RCMP Centennial Library, Smith vowed to push the Redford government to reverse the decision.
“The need is still there, Fort Macleod is still the best community,” Smith said. “It’s not too late to reverse this decision.”
The construction contract had been awarded, the design unveiled, the development permit issued and crews were on site when Justice Minister and Solicitor General Johnathan Denis on Aug. 29 issued a news release announcing the decision to kill the project.
Denis based the decision not to move forward with the $122-million Alberta Public Security and Law Enforcement Training Centre on a letter he received in July from the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police.
In that letter, the police chiefs said the Calgary and Edmonton police forces would not train recruits at the centre in Fort Macleod.
Denis said it would not be fiscally responsible for the government to put tax dollars into a facility that would be under-utilized.
“Whether or not this facility gets built Calgary and Edmonton are going to need to build facilities too,” Smith said. “The reason for having a central college was to ensure we didn’t have duplication, we didn’t have redundancies, we had the very best training staff at a single facility.”
Letters are on file from numerous law enforcement organizations supporting the need for the police college in Fort Macleod, Smith said.
Smith said if the decision to kill the police college project is based on political retribution for the riding electing a Wildrose MLA, the government is punishing the wrong people.
“If the government looked at the returns they would see Fort Macleod overwhelmingly voted for the PCs. I think they voted for them on the promise of this college. They felt they were telling the truth when they said they were going to build this college.”
Smith will make the Redford government debate the decision Oct. 23 when the Alberta Legislature begins its fall sitting, and urged Fort Macleod residents to keep the faith.
“We do not think it is too late,” Smith said. “We do not think it is dead. A bad decision has been made.”