Count former Oilers and Canadiens tough guy Georges Laraque out of Alison Redford’s camp – or any party in the current Alberta election.
Ms. Redford made a campaign stop Friday at a fundraiser for the Scotia Bank Pro-Am for Alzheimer’s, which will benefit the Gordie & Colleen Howe Fund for Alzheimer’s. Several former NHLers, including Mr. Howe himself, attended Friday’s luncheon at an Edmonton hotel.
It was an apolitical affair – but among the crowd was Mr. Laraque, who played 12 seasons in the NHL before retiring in 2010. He lives in Edmonton and has since been active in politics, serving as deputy leader of the federal Green Party. Ms. Redford’s brief appearance and speech, however, wasn’t wooing him to her PC party.
“Well, the difference between me and the premier is I didn’t come here for votes,” Mr. Laraque, 35, said, flashing a smile. He has avoided actually running as a candidate – if he did, it would be for the Green Party, which folded three years ago in Alberta (since replaced by the upstart EverGreen Party, which is currently running candidates in 18 of 87 ridings). Ms. Redford’s announcement this week of $150-million in annual funding for 20 years – $3-billion total – for research into renewable and non-renewable energy didn’t sway Mr. Laraque.
“I would fight all those tar sands,” the NHL enforcer, and vegan, said. “Tar sands are the biggest in Alberta and I know it’s running our economy.”
He didn’t speak to Ms. Redford during her visit, however. Instead, she signed a jersey with Mr. Hockey himself, got a round of applause and was wished good luck on the campaign trail by Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel, among others. Mr. Laraque said Alberta should clean up its environmental performance – though spoke carefully, given where he was.
“I would be more conscious of that question if I was outside of Alberta,” he said, laughing, when asked what he’d tell the party leaders about the oil sands. “I’ll make sure I’d be able to leave.”