The deadline for members of the United Conservative Party (UCP) to throw their hats into the ring for the leadership race is July 20th.
This comes after current party leader Jason Kenney resigned after getting 51 per cent in a leadership confidence vote, the minimum amount needed to remain party leader. He stepped down shortly after. Kenney will leave his position after the election is held on October 6th.
Running isn't cheap for the party's hopefuls either. To even get a name on the ballot, candidates must meet these requirements by July 29th:
$150,000 for an entrance fee
$25,000 for a compliance deposit
Signatures from 1,000 UCP members, with 200 from each of the party’s five provincial regions.
Those fees are in contrast to the $95,000 needed for the 2017 UCP leadership race that Kenney won. Leadership races can sometimes be risky for both the candidate's credibility and their bank accounts.
So far, eight candidates have decided to run. Below is a brief history of their political careers and what they promise to change if elected to the top spot.
Jean is a former Wildrose party leader and the co-founder of the UCP. He hopes to unite the party together using grassroots ideals. He promises Albertans that he will listen to them and that he will fight for a better deal in regards to Alberta's place in the Canadian Confederation.
Leela Sharon Aheer
Aheer is a UCP backbench member of the UCP for our very own Chestermere-Strathmore riding. She was removed from Kenney's cabinet after criticizing the premier on his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. She promises to restore Albertans' faith in the UCP and to help represent and uplift the less fortunate in the province.
Sawhney represents Calgary-North East as a legislative member. She served under Kenney as a minister for community and social services and then in transportation. If elected, she promises to bring Albertans and their province forward by uniting people and uplifting their voices above the 1%
The current Mayor of the village of Amisk in central Alberta, Rock promises to help rural Albertans with concerns on crime and health care issues.
Loewen is a Backbench member in the Central Peace-Notley constituency. Loewen currently sits as an independent after being voted out of the UCP for urging Kenney to resign. He promises Albertans that he will restore trust in the UCP and push for Alberta to get a bigger seat at the table in its dealings with Ottawa.
Schultz is a UCP member for Calgary Shaw. She has served in the cabinet as minister of children's services. She promises Albertans that she will fight with the federal government to improve Alberta's economy and rebuild trust with Albertans and UCP party members alike.
Smith was the former Highwood Member of the Legislative Assembly, leader of the official opposition and leader of the Wildrose Party. She promises Albertans that she will fight Ottawa on their behalf and prevent further damage to the oil and gas industry.
Toews is Alberta's former finance minister and was elected as a Member of Alberta’s Legislative Assembly for Grande Prairie-Wapiti in 2019. He promises Albertans that he will inspire conservatives and return his party to its original values while putting aside party differences.
These eight are the first to enter, but may not be the last. Kenney's resignation and a complicated political landscape have made this internal leadership race a very important one.
Lori Williams an Associate Professor of Policy Studies at Mount Royal University speaks on why this upcoming election should matter to Albertans.
"The most obvious short-term impact is that they are going to be selecting the next premier of Alberta and a premier that will be in place likely until the next election. We're talking about nearly a year off governance in Alberta being affected by whoever that leader. The 2nd is that the character and the brand of the party are at issue in this leadership election and so whoever is selected as leader will have the challenge of trying to unite, the party essentially and somehow manage to include or embrace the differences that are part of this Coalition Conservative party."
The UCP is still looking to find its footing after its formation in 2017. With the party's inception being the joining of two opposing but similar political parties it isn't hard to see why. October will see the UCP choose a new leader, and that new leader will choose how this two-headed political party will define itself in the coming years.
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