The United Conservative Party on Tuesday announced rules for a leadership contest to be held on Oct. 6 to choose a new leader and the province’s next premier. The race became necessary when Premier Jason Kenney announced last month that he was stepping down after he received 51.4 per cent support in a leadership review. Here is a list of the candidates who have so far declared they want his job:
Leela Aheer: UCP backbench member of the legislature for Chestermere-Strathmore. Was member of Kenney’s original cabinet as minister for culture, multiculturalism and the status of women. Removed from cabinet in 2021 after criticizing Kenney’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Promises to restore trust in the party and to work to help the underprivileged.
Brian Jean: UCP backbench member for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche. Former Wildrose party leader and co-founder of the UCP when his party merged with Kenney’s Progressive Conservatives in 2017. Lost to Kenney in first UCP leadership race. Promises to unite the party on shared grassroots ideals and principles.
Todd Loewen: Backbench member for Central Peace-Notley constituency. Sits as an Independent after being voted out of UCP caucus in 2021 for urging Kenney to resign. Promises to restore trust in party, push for greater Alberta autonomy in dealings with Ottawa.
Bill Rock: Mayor of the village of Amisk in east-central Alberta. Ran unsuccessfully for Wildrose party in 2015. Running on platform to advocate for rural Albertans on issues including crime and health care.
Rajan Sawhney: UCP legislature member representing Calgary-North East. Was member of Kenney’s cabinet, first as minister for community and social services, then in transportation. Promises to hold public inquiry into Alberta’s COVID-19 response.
Rebecca Schulz: UCP member for Calgary-Shaw. Was in cabinet as minister of children’s services. Promises to continue fight for better deal with federal government, to improve economy and to rebuild trust with Albertans and party faithful.
Danielle Smith: Former Wildrose party leader who led floor-crossing to Progressive Conservatives in 2014. Has since worked in business and as a radio talk-show host. Promises grassroots participation in party and to pursue increased Alberta independence within Confederation.
Travis Toews: UCP member representing Grande-Prairie Wapiti. Accountant and rancher. Had been finance minister since the start of the UCP government. Promises to heal rifts in party and restore trust with Albertans, while maintaining fiscal honesty.
Note: Sawhney, Schulz and Toews stepped down from cabinet to avoid potential conflict of interest during the leadership run.
– Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press