Like many Albertans, Airdrie -Cochrane MLA Peter Guthrie started 2021 with a lot of hope. After a gruelling 2020 and the unknowns brought forth by the ongoing Global pandemic, he was optimistic about the vaccination rollout and a rise in oil prices.
Fast forward one year and now, Guthrie is reflecting on yet another challenging year.
"Last year I did look forward to 2021 with optimism," explains Guthrie. "There was significant improvements in many areas of the jobs economy, economic recovery, but the year definitely was met with its challenges -- the introduction of variants has obviously caused frustration with many again, including myself."
Over the past year, Guthrie has voiced many concerns over the Kenney Government. Back in September, he publicly apologized to constituents for the government imposing another round of COVID-19 restrictions after the Premier assured Albertans that the province was "Open For Good."
He criticized Premier Kenney for dividing vaccinated and unvaccinated Albertans and most recently Guthrie spoke out against vaccination policies in the Legislative Assembly saying that the government is heading down a slippery slope and that implementing a mandatory vaccination policy is unconstitutional.
Guthrie says that while he's taken "a stronger public stance" in recent months he's "still a UCP MLA" and his stance hasn't changed on our government itself.
"I still believe in the principles and the platform on which I was elected," explains Guthrie. "You know, I do believe too, that it's best to try to work within the party system, as frustrating as it may be at times. With that said, you know, I'm still going to continue to be a strong advocate for the constituents of Airdrie -Cochrane."
In 2021 Guthrie also voiced his support for two Municipal election candidates. The election saw 19 candidates vying for a seat on Town Council, and three candidates competing to represent Cochrane on the Rocky View Schools (RVS) board of trustees. Guthrie chose to endorse council candidate Bruce Townley and school trustee candidate Simon Ongom saying they had the right experience and impressive backgrounds.
In the end, Cochranites chose to re-elect all six incumbent Town Councillors as well as the School Trustee for Ward 6.
One of the most talked-about topics in town is the Hwy. 1A-22 interchange. The project has been top of mind for the community for over a decade now, and construction is anticipated as early as this spring. Guthrie says that is something we can all look forward to in 2022.
"Just finishing up its request for qualifications to shortlist the construction companies that would be capable of building that interchange," explains Guthrie. " So I would expect that the Department of Transportation, will be able to formulate a tender package here in fairly short order and get it sent out this winter. That would provide us with a spring startup."
Towards the end of 2021, Guthrie suffered a personal loss which deeply affected him. He says that unexpected loss really put things into perspective for him.
"I lost a friend of mine to a heart attack," explains Guthrie. "He was 54, his name was Gord and I knew him since I was 15." That really made me think about family, what's important, doing things that are right and have meaning."
Now, just days into a brand new year Guthrie says that is what his focus will be in 2022 and he "hopes that others will consider that as well."
Guthrie notes that a leadership review is slated for April of this year and that it's an opportunity for UCP members to vote on whether or not they support the direction of current leadership. Albertans looking to have their say will have to be a member and register for the event.