By Tim Kalinowski on July 24, 2021.
Lethbridge-based entrepreneur and libertarian thinker Dale P. Leier recently announced his bid to run for a city council seat in this fall’s municipal election.
“I think council needs to be more transparent,” he says. “The three key planks of my platform are transparency, growth and performance. Are we getting value for money? Are there areas where we can squeeze out improvements and not just wholesale job cuts that are demoralizing and leaving gaps? How can we be more effective with the valuable taxpayer dollars we have to deal with?”
Leier has dabbled in politics before when he ran in 2004 as the Libertarian Party of Canada federal candidate for Saanich-Gulf Islands before moving back to his hometown of Lethbridge after his wife’s retirement from her senior public service job with the B.C government. Leier has also worked as a former Air Traffic Controller, and had many different positions over the years in sales and marketing, technology and finance, and manufacturing and food production. Leier has also been an outspoken critic of the current city council, particularly when it comes to local municipal spending and economic growth policies.
“I am probably the most reluctant candidate there is,” he admits, “but I was asked by Blaine Hyggen if I would be interested in running. We had some mutual acquaintances, and one thing has led to another. The thing is, I have a passion for this city. Lethbridge runs in my veins.”
Leier feels the city is missing out on some great opportunities due to poor policy and planning.
“We (my wife and I) looked around at all the cities in western Canada, and Lethbridge turned out to be the best with all amenities, the cost of living, the weather; so it still had a lot of appeal,” he says. “And bonus, it was also my hometown. But when I got back here, I was really taken aback by the way things had, to my way of mind, deteriorated.”
Leier cites the lack of progress on airport development as a prime example of what he means.
“Around the rest of Canada, cities were building big, new, grand airports with runways and terminals, and everything like this,” he says. “And this thing is just about closing the doors.
“There has been on private hangar built here in the last 40 years. Meanwhile there are people building aviation businesses outside of Lethbridge.”
The airport is Leier’s main capital spending priority if elected, and he acknowledges many of his criticisms stem from the way the airport operated under Lethbridge County prior to being turned over to the City.
“Really, they (the feds) couldn’t have given it to a worse operator,” he says. “And, unfortunately, the City of Lethbridge isn’t much more sophisticated than that. They more or less took it over because they were paying the bills. But, in terms of planning and understanding, you have a three person committee running the airport, the mayor and two councillors, none of whom knows one end of an airplane from another.”
Leier says his main policy priority if elected is generating more wealth in Lethbridge by creating a strong local climate for investment. He believes if that happens Lethbridge would be “ideally suited” for long term economic prospects, and it would put a significant dent in its social problems as well. Leier’s campaign motto is: “A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats.”
“Everyone says to me the root cause of homelessness, addiction and crime is poverty, and nothing cures poverty like wealth,” he states. “So, I say, jobs for everyone. I know people want family-supporting jobs. They want meaning in their life, and they want to feel there is relevance to what they do. So, again, means growing the economy and growing the opportunities, working with the academic institutions to do training and career development.”
Leier says he also supports the idea of a third bridge as a capital spending priority, opposes electric buses, (he would prefer to see natural gas powered buses instead), and opposes building a performing arts centre.
He is supportive of the idea of an Indigenous friendship centre for Lethbridge.
“(First Nations) have a history here, and I think that needs to be respected,” he says. “We need to live together, we need to work together, we need to grow together. I think a friendship centre is just a start.”
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