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PC leadership run features familiar contenders

Jun 10, 2014 12:15 pm | By Mike Pickford | St. Paul Journal

The race for leadership of the Progressive Conservative party is underway, and involves three political veterans all looking to be the next premier of Alberta.

Candidates were confirmed at the Leadership Launch event in Edmonton on June 2, and include former Infrastructure Minister Ric McIver, Edmonton MLA Thomas Lukaszuk, and former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice.

“The party is excited. We’ve got three candidates all qualified in their own way, travelling the province, working towards the fist voting day in September. We’re excited about the race, and we think it’s certainly energized the party,” said Jim McCormick, president of the Alberta PC Association.

“Attendance at some of the events has been good at this point, people have been very focused and engaged,” he added.

After weeks of speculation over whether Prentice would run, the former Calgary MP broke his self imposed media blackout late last month, and promised to bring back transparency and trust to the Progressive Conservative party.

In a conference with media on May 21, Prentice said, “I am running because I believe Alberta has before it, right now, an opportunity to achieve great things. It’s going to take discipline and it’s going to take focus, but we will do this.”

Prentice listed five key priorities he would focus on should he be elected, which include making Alberta an environmental leader, maximizing the use of the province’s natural resources, restoring the bond between Albertans and their government and improving the quality of life for Albertans.

Prentice is considered by many to be a frontrunner in the race, with support from provincial politicians like Jeff Johnson, Ken Hughes, Doug Horner, and Diana McQueen.

“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog,” Lukaszuk said when speaking to media last month, in regards to the competition he’d face from Prentice in the leadership race.

Lukaszuk said his run would include efforts to rebuild voter trust broken during Alison Redford’s ill-fated time as premier.

“I was the first one to say this government has lost its moral authority to govern. We will have to focus for the next two years on earning back Albertans’ trust. With proper leadership, with acceptance of some of our flaws and with focus on improving ourselves, we will earn the trust of Albertans,” said Lukaszuk.

Bonnyville-Cold Lake MLA Genia Leskiw announced she would be backing Prentice in an interview with the Bonnyville Nouvelle.

“I think we are very lucky to have three outstanding Albertans, and three fine gentlemen all running and bidding to be the leader of the PC party. Thomas and Ric are great colleagues of mine and will continue to be great colleagues of mine, but at this time I will be supporting Jim Prentice,” said Leskiw.

Leskiw said she chose to support Prentice because he is a candidate from outside caucus, as a federal MP. Having never been involved in provincial politics, she considers him “a fresh new face,” that will take a new approach to uniting the province.

Lac La Biche-St. Paul-Two Hills Wildrose MLA Shayne Saskiw described each of the candidates as not being able to offer any political change. He criticized their plans, which he thinks will put the province further into debt.

“It doesn’t matter if you change the leader of the party, the culture of entitlement will just continue. We’ve had the PC party in power for over 43 years and more and more Albertans are stating it’s time for a change,” said Saskiw.

“Very few people are putting their names forward…and I’ve noticed that there is very little interest in any of the candidates, which is quite telling.”

Saskiw noted one of the biggest problems the PC party faces is infighting between party members, along with a lack of focus on a legislative agenda.

He said, “Once Redford resigned, the province essentially came into a standstill. The Wildrose is recruiting candidates, raising funds, and organizing while the PCs are trying to find themselves.”

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