To Be Held Oct 6: Alberta UCP Announces Rules for Contest to Replace Leader, Premier

To Be Held Oct 6: Alberta UCP Announces Rules for Contest to Replace Leader, Premier
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney is shown in Calgary, Alta., on May 20, 2022. (The Canadian Press/Jeff McIntosh)
The Canadian Press

The United Conservative Party has announced rules for a leadership contest to be held Oct. 6 to choose a new leader and the province’s next premier.

Each candidate will be required to put up a non-refundable entry fee of $150,000, along with $25,000 that will be returned as long as no rules are breached.

Eligible candidates must also get a nomination petition signed by at least 1,000 party members from across the province.

The deadline for the required signatures and first instalment of the entry fee is July 20.

Premier Jason Kenney announced last month that he was stepping down after he received 51.4 percent support in a leadership review. He is staying on until his replacement is chosen.

“These rules demonstrate our commitment to running a fair, open and equitable leadership election,” David Price, chairman of the party’s leadership election committee, said in a statement Tuesday.

“We are proud of the robust rules we have developed, which provide for a secure and transparent process.”

The winner is to be selected through a combination of mail-in and in-person votes at five locations. Each voter will rank candidates in order of preference.

If no one gets more than 50 percent on the first ballot, the candidate receiving the fewest votes will be dropped and that person’s second-preference votes will be reallocated to those still in the race. This will continue until someone gets a majority.

Eight candidates have announced they want to run for the leadership.

The latest to declare was former children’s services minister Rebecca Schulz on Tuesday. She joined her one-time colleagues Travis Toews, former finance minister; and Rajan Sawhney, former transportation minister.

All three left cabinet to avoid a conflict of interest.

Schulz said the UCP government is on track in its fight for a better deal from the federal government and in getting the economy moving.

But the government stopped listening to party faithful and to Albertans, something she said she would reverse as premier.

“They feel like we have grown somewhat entitled, that we’ve lost touch, that they are not being listened to,” said Schulz.

“That changes by being able to say, ‘You know what Alberta? You know what party members? You’re right. We hear you. We’re going to get back on track.’”

UCP backbencher Brian Jean, one-time leader of the Wildrose Party and co-founder of the UCP, is also running, as is another former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith.

Another backbencher, Leela Aheer, who was removed from Kenney’s cabinet in 2021 after criticizing his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, is also seeking the top job, as is Independent Todd Loewen, who was voted out of Kenney’s caucus over a year ago for publicly calling for Kenney to quit.

The final candidate is Bill Rock, mayor of the village of Amisk.

There will be debates during the campaign and the rules require all candidates to participate or face sanctions or disqualification.

The deadline for new members to sign up and vote is Aug. 12.

By Dean Bennett