With the strong response to his July 5 barbecue, Morgan Nagel has reconfirmed he is a candidate to contend with for the Cochrane-Airdrie United Conservative Party (UCP) nomination.

Cochrane's Legion Hall was overflowing with people coming to hear the candidate's views.

The barbecue attracted an impressive 350 people, considering events like this normally attract 50 to 100 people.

"I was a little blown away by how many people showed up," says Nagel. "I think it's a sign that our message of a brighter economic future for Alberta is really resonating with people."

The economic welfare of the province is the focus of Nagel and he's quick to point out he won't be sidetracked by social issues, something that was brought to a point when during a question about UCP members walking out on the abortion clinic bill debate.

"I'm 100 per cent focused on economic and financial issues and I won't get tied up with social stuff," says Nagel.

Still, he said he is not afraid to take a stand and stick with it, pointing to his record on Cochrane town council.

"I have said what I think during the election and then gone out and done exactly what I said I would do. I said I would challenge spending in the municipal government. I said I would stand against rapid residential development. I said I would defend those rodeo grounds. I said that I would do whatever I can to help Cochrane and I have gone out and done it."

He says he would use the same approach to serving the entire constituency, not just Cochrane, while recognizing the highway was the number one issue here.

Nagel equated the NDP government's approach to spending to that of a lottery winner who blows their winnings. He says it has to stop.

"I believe, like the majority of people who win the lottery, our government has totally blown it. We were one of the wealthiest provinces in the entire country. We were the strongest economy in all of North America for 20-30 years and when things were going good, they were going really well. But within six months of the price of oil, we have nothing to show for it."

Yet he doesn't shoulder the entire blame upon the current government and recognized the Progressive Conservatives, himself included, lost sight of things. Still, he believes it's much worse under the NDP government.

"We've gone so far in the wrong direction. We're borrowing billions and billions of dollars. When they took office we were $12 billion in debt; now we're near $50 billion."Wearing a Jason Kenney cowboy hat, Logan Grabowski cheers on Nagel.

"Being a fiscal Conservative who wants to balance the budget doesn't mean you hate government services, it means you want government services today and well into the future."

Nagel believes Alberta needs to restore confidence with investors and number one is the need to eliminate the carbon tax, lower taxes so we are once again competitive and leverage the Heritage Trust Fund to reestablish the Alberta Advantage. He wants to cut the red tape of regulations and believes it will benefit everything from small business to corporations.

He believes the energy sector isn't only about Alberta and says there needs to be buy-in by all provinces because the entire country can benefit with the creation of more pipelines across the country and refineries on both the east and west coast, generating jobs and taxation to support the government.

"I would do what I can to change the discussion about how we manage money not only in this province but this entire country."

Acknowledging health care is one of Canadians' core values, up there with hockey and Tim Horton's, he said he would support a small deductible payable for health services, with low-income earners being exempt, using the example of being presented a $5 invoice for a $10,000 procedure, to make people aware of the cost of medical services. 

Nagel drew a loud applause when he proposed taking a page out of the Quebec playbook and demand a renegotiation of the equalization formula, even to the extent of holding a unilateral provincial referendum, something he says UPC leader Jason Kenney supports.

"I really don't think the majority of Canadians have any idea about what's going on and if we fight this thing out it would be worth it strictly for the media attention and to get the country talking because this is the real Quebec playbook: make noise and get stuff from Canada."

He believes Alberta has paid more than its fair share and has received no relief during recessions.

"I'm okay with helping Canada a little but if we're going to help this country, this country better start helping us," says Nagel, not only speaking to equalization payments but in supporting pipelines and the energy industry.

A question arose over rural crime and allowing people to take necessary force to protect their family and property.

Pointing out he's not a huge gun advocate, he said these laws are governed federally. He did say, though, county's should be required to contribute more for policing so more officers can be hired for rural patrols.

Nagel intends to continue to connect with residents for the time being and may schedule more events later but currently has nothing major planned. A date has yet to be set for the Cochrane-Airdrie nomination but it is anticipated to take place in late September-early October.

Ian Chitwood, Peter Guthrie, Mauri Stiff and Laura Talsma are also seeking the nomination.

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