With the federal election creeping closer, independent candidate Caroline O’Driscoll has announced she is looking to secure the Banff-Airdrie riding.
O’Driscoll comes from a farming background, which eventually led to an interest in law. After finishing law school, she ended up starting her own practice and dealt exclusively with First Nations advocacy, corporate entities, and business structures.
“Put me into the bigger arena and let me represent a constituency that has diversity, that has people who have had their voices lost because of this current trend where we're hopping on the hot topics,” O'Driscoll said.
She said she considers her experience a privilege because when she first got into the field, there was a perceived apprehension to work with Indigenous people.
“There was often an issue that there would be a conflict with industry or government,” she said. “But as a result, it gave me a beautiful opportunity to really learn the ins and outs of multiple dimensions of how the legal system works.”
O’Driscoll said her decision to run in the Sept. 20 federal election came after noticing there wasn’t much action or concern to voice local constituency concerns. She said her goal, if elected as the MP for Banff-Airdrie, would be to hold government to account.
“It was one of those situations where I have the experience, I have the skillset, I can’t not give people a choice to have someone proactively hold this government to account,” she said.
She said her two-decade career speaks for itself, and she has lived by three fundamental principles the entire time: sustainability, equity and accountability.
“All too often I have faced the reality of ignorance when you are associated with a group that assumptions may be made of,” she said. “If anyone works at the work history I have, yes, I have worked with Indigenous groups, but that doesn’t mean ‘green peace extremist’ in any way.”
The Banff-Airdrie riding is the most contested riding in Alberta this federal election with nine registered candidates. O’Driscoll is running against two other independents, as well as representatives from the Conservative Party, Liberal Party, NDP, People’s Party of Canada, Green Party and Maverick Party.
She said her choice to run independently was deliberate.
“I have worked with almost all of the major parties, both provincially and federally,” she said. “What is concerning to me is the disconnect between the bureaucracies of government and the political platforms and policies people hear during election time.”
O’Driscoll said she purposely wanted to be Independent because she wanted to give priority to the people of Banff-Airdrie’s voice, interests, and needs.
“If you listen to the people, they’ll give you guidance,” she said. “I think we have lost the foundation of what a representative democracy is about. It is the people’s voice first.”
In a perfect world, O’Driscoll said she would have had adequate time to stop in every part of the riding to ensure awareness all of the issues facing the constituency. With the call of a snap election on Aug. 15, it meant her time to prepare a campaign was miniscule in comparison to other elections.
“I have not been able to do what I want to do because this has been such a short election period,” she said.
Regardless, she said she’d like her campaign to focus on issues facing the local economy, social programming, and public safety. She also said she has spoken to Indigenous leaders on reserves who have identified “massive drug issues.”
“They have identified homes or drug houses, and there is no active law enforcement to make our constituency safe,” she said. “What’s even more horrific is that during the time of COVID-19, abuse has escalated.”
O’Driscoll said ahead of the election it’s important people know they have a voice and a choice on Sept. 20. She said there is a current trend if you don’t vote for a party, you have no voice.
“We are a representative democracy, and we need leaders who are actually going to do that job, regardless of party platform or government policy,” she said.