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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:06 am    Post subject: Alberta United Conservative Party to select leader Reply with quote

( not a lot has been said about the UCP united conservative party leadership race in alberta )

October 11, 2017 8:19 pm Updated: October 11, 2017 8:40 pm

Whoever wins Alberta UCP leadership contest likely on ‘path to premier’s office’: poll

By Phil Heidenreich
Online journalist Global News

Regardless of who wins the race to become leader of Alberta’s United Conservative Party (UCP) later this month, the Angus Reid Institute (ARI) says that man “will find himself on a relatively promising path to the premier’s office,” based on the latest results of a quarterly poll.

The ARI survey gathered opinions on the frontrunners in the UCP leadership race – Brian Jean and Jason Kenney – as well as thoughts on the party as a whole and on the governing New Democrats (NDP).

The poll, released Wednesday, found that 70 per cent of respondents “agree” they see Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s “government is out of touch with what Albertans really want” and that both Kenney and Jean are viewed more favourably than Notley.

The results of a quarterly poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute suggest Albertans think their NDP government “is out of touch with what Albertans really want.”

Forty-nine per cent of respondents approved of Jean and 38 per cent approved of Kenney, compared to 29 per cent approving of Notley.

“They match what you would think in your gut,” Duane Bratt, a political analyst at Mount Royal University, said of Wednesday’s polling numbers. “There is clear unhappiness and unease with the Notley government in how they have governed, particularly on financial issues and the issues around the debt and bringing in the carbon tax and the lack -so far – of pipelines being built.

“This leads naturally to support for the primary opponent, which would be the UCP.”

READ MORE: UCP leadership candidates promise health-care reform in Alberta

Watch below: On Aug. 1, 2017, Lisa MacGregor filed this report after a new poll suggested Alberta’s United Conservative Party would form a majority government if an election were held that day.

Play Video

The trajectory of Notley’s approval rating, based on quarterly polls conducted by the ARI, has generally been downward since June 2015

The results of a quarterly poll conducted by the Angus Reid Institute indicate Premier Rachel Notley’s support from Albertans has been steadily decreasing since June 2015.

CREDIT: Angus Reid Institute

“While hardly the worst approval rating among sitting premiers, Notley’s approval numbers – and their trajectory since she took office – are likely not encouraging to New Democratic Party strategists in the province,” the ARI said in a news release.

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley speaks about a new hospital that will be built in Edmonton Alta, on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.



READ MORE: Alberta Premier Rachel Notley popular nationally, not so much at home: poll

When asked if they would prefer to see Jean or Kenney leading the UCP into the next provincial election, 33 per cent of respondents said Jean, 22 per cent said Kenney, 22 per cent said neither and 23 per cent said they didn’t have a preference.

The ARI poll also found support for Jean and Kenney increases the older voters are. Of respondents in the 18-34 age range, Jean enjoyed 39 per cent support and Kenney had 33 per cent support, in the 35-54 demographic, Jean saw 48 per cent support while Kenney saw 38 per cent support and among respondents 55 and older, support for Jean rose to 60 per cent while Kenney enjoyed 45 per cent support.

Alberta Wildrose leader Brian Jean and Alberta PC leader Jason Kenney shake hands after announcing a unity deal between the two in Edmonton on May 18, 2017.

Alberta Wildrose leader Brian Jean and Alberta PC leader Jason Kenney shake hands after announcing a unity deal between the two in Edmonton on May 18, 2017.

Jason Franson/Canadian Press

But while the ARI poll painted a rosy picture of how respondents perceive the UCP two years ahead of its first election campaign, the survey did highlight ongoing concerns about where the party stands on the political spectrum.

Forty-seven per cent of respondents expressed concern that the UCP will be too right-wing.

The Angus Reid Institute released the results of a quarterly poll on Oct. 11, 2017.

CREDIT: Angus Reid Institute

“There’s also some unease that people have about the UCP about whether they may be too far right,” Bratt said. “This is a snapshot in time… if an election was held today, the UCP wins but the people still have their doubts about them.

READ MORE: Jason Kenney and Brian Jean response to anti-gay comments ‘cowardly’: Rachel Notley

“It’s interesting that when Brian Jean ran the Wildrose Party, he was dismissed as too far right,” Bratt added. “But in comparison to Jason Kenney, he looks pretty moderate. In fact, he has tried to play that in his leadership race and so I think there’s a lot more concern and unease around Jason Kenney than there is about Brian Jean.”

Sixty-three per cent of respondents said “the PC-Wildrose merger will be a good thing for Alberta, overall.” However, 57 per cent of respondents also agreed with the statement “Conservatives in Alberta think they’re entitled to govern.”

-With files from 630 CHED’s Scott Johnston.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jean raises concerns over UCP leadership voting process

James Wood, Calgary Herald James Wood, Calgary Herald
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Published on: October 11, 2017 | Last Updated: October 11, 2017 7:18 PM MDT

Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and Progressive Conservative Leader Jason Kenney announce Thursday they have reached a deal to merge the parties. David Bloom / Postmedia Network

Leadership candidate Brian Jean sounded the alarm over the electronic voting system in the United Conservative Party’s leadership contest, saying Wednesday thousands of party members may not be able to vote because they aren’t registered with the party.

But with the deadline for party members to register less than two days away, UCP officials say the process is running smoothly aside from a few hiccups.

To select the new party’s first leader, UCP members will vote online or by phone in the three-day period ending Oct. 28. UCPers had to have their party membership by Sept. 29 and then register, providing proof of identity, by 5 p.m. this Friday, either by mail or online.

But in a news release and Facebook video released Wednesday, Jean said that under the “complicated” and “cumbersome” system, many members don’t even realize they have to register as the second step in the process.

Many of those who do try to register are encountering technical problems, especially in rural Alberta where Internet service is slower, said the Fort McMurray-Conklin MLA and former Wildrose leader.

“Unfortunately, our party committee has chosen a leadership election system where, if things don’t change, over 40,000 party members may not be able to vote,” said Jean.

“I’m not happy at all with the system. It’s not built to be easy for members.”

The UCP is not officially releasing membership numbers, though Ed Ammar, chair of the party’s joint interim board, said last week the party’s ranks number about 115,000 members.

The party’s executive director, Janice Harrington, rejected the contention there are problems with the system beyond a few stumbling blocks.

In an interview, she said there were already 50,000 members registered by Wednesday afternoon, with party staff registering members at a rate of seven per minute.

“Considering that past leadership experience have shown that 65 per cent of members at most participate, I’m very confident that as many members who want to register will get registered,” said Harrington.

“It’s working extraordinarily well, actually.”

Harrington said less than eight per cent of memberships had been rejected, mainly because the members hadn’t provided required information. Party staff work with those members to ensure they can register, she said.

The UCP has also worked hard to ensure members know they must register, to the point that the party has annoyed some members because of too much contact, said Harrington, adding that campaigns also play a role in spreading the information.

The other leadership campaigns acknowledged some issues with the registration process, though they declined to criticize the party.

Evan Legate, campaign manager for Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer, said in an interview there is “very low awareness” of the registration deadline and the campaign has been hearing “frustrations” about the system.

“There’s definitely been some technical issues, but we understand the need for the vote to be secure and follow the guidelines,” he said.

Blaise Boehmer, spokesman for former Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney, said the campaign has set up 30 kiosks across the province to help members register.

He said in an email statement that Jean had pushed for an early leadership vote in the unity discussions between the Wildrose and PC parties that led to the formation of the UCP, which helped lead to the current system.

“While the voting system established by the party is not what we preferred, we’re doing our best to enfranchise every UCP member in this very important vote. Criticizing the system seems counterproductive at this point,” said Boehmer.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

United Conservative Party leadership candidate Jeff Callaway drops out of race, endorses Jason Kenney

Clare Clancy Clare Clancy
More from Clare Clancy

Published on: October 4, 2017 | Last Updated: October 4, 2017 5:00 PM MDT

It’s a three-man race in the bid for United Conservative Party leadership after candidate Jeff Callaway quit the race to back Jason Kenney.

“There are three weeks left in this race; I’m just going to work hard to try to put Jason Kenney over the top,” Callaway said Wednesday.

Kenney, former leader of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives, will square off against former Wildrose leader Brian Jean and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer. The UCP will announce a leader Oct. 28 after votes are cast in a one-member, one-vote preferential ballot system.

In an interview with the Calgary Herald, Callaway said he had made no deal with Kenney either before launching his campaign or in making his decision to withdraw.

Callaway had touted a series of “big ideas,” including having the Alberta government purchase the Port of Churchill in Manitoba as an outlet for a new oilsands pipeline. But he drew the most notice for his attacks on Jean over his leadership style and issues such as a potential deficit in the UCP caucus.

Jean’s campaign called Callaway’s decision an “ineffective Kenney campaign stunt” in a statement Wednesday.

“Brian thanks Jeff for his past service to the Wildrose, but our campaign is not at all surprised with how this has played out,” the statement said. (Callaway was a former Wildrose party president.)

The hefty $95,000 price tag to run for UCP leadership includes a $75,000 fee and a $20,000 refundable good-conduct bond. Callaway’s campaign paid a deposit amounting to half the fee and the full refundable bond — totalling $57,500.

The deadline for the second instalment is Thursday. Callaway said finances didn’t play a role in his decision to withdraw from the race.

Schweitzer said in a statement he was disappointed Callaway dropped out: “As we start out building this new party, I think it’s critical that we have a diverse set of voices and ideas coming to the table.”

Callaway said the Red Deer leadership debate Tuesday spurred him to drop out.

All four candidates in the debate said they would get rid of farm safety legislation, which puts farms under occupational health and safety rules and gives paid farm labourers the right to workers’ compensation.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 9:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lorne Gunter: Brian Jean stumbles in UCP leadership race

lorne gunter
By Lorne Gunter , Edmonton Sun
First posted: Thursday, September 21, 2017 05:22 PM MDT

Shortly after the UCP leadership debate at Calgary’s Mount Royal University wrapped up on Wednesday, Brian Jean’s campaign team sent out a news release proclaiming him the winner.

That’s not unusual.

But the Jean team’s release contained an unusually lame boast: Jean, “has received the support of 11 of his former Wildrose caucus colleagues.”

So? There were 21 Wildrose MLAs before that party merged with the Tories to form the UCP. You might think that getting the endorsements of only a little more than half of them wasn’t such a remarkable achievement.

If you’re job is promoting Jean, you might not want to draw attention to the fact that those who know his work best have been somewhat unenthusiastic about getting onboard.

Jean’s chief rival, former Tory leader Jason Kenney, has endorsements from six former Wildrosers. And Jean has no endorsements from former Tory MLAs.

Also, one of the other candidates in the leadership contest, Jeff Callaway, was the president of Wildrose under Jean.

Callaway’s decision to seek the leadership in his own right may just be a mark of his personal ambition. But it could also be seen as a slag against Jean.

Finally, remember that before he was shamed out of the UCP caucus for questionable expense claims and a hit-and-run charge, former Wildrose MLA Derek Fildebrandt was a vehement critic of Jean’s leadership style.

And former Wildrose MLA Scott Cyr (who has yet to announce an endorsement), publicly criticized Jean’s use of the Wildrose budget when it was revealed the caucus was overdrawn by more than $300,000.

Kenney’s endorsement by his former party’s MLAs hasn’t been unanimous either.

Richard Starke, who Kenney defeated for the Tory leadership in March, refused to join the UCP. Calgary Tory MLA Rick Fraser left the UCP on Thursday to sit as an independent. And Grande Prairie MLA Wayne Drysdale has endorsed Doug Schweitzer, a Calgary lawyer and former Tory fundraiser, who is also seeking the UCP’s top job.

Still, when you add it all together, I’m not sure Jean should be bragging that (not including himself) he has a 55 per cent approval rating.

Half way through the UCP race, it’s hard to tell who’s winning, though.

Jean has been ahead in every poll so far. And it’s better to be ahead than behind, if only for the sake of morale and momentum.

However, no pollster has a UCP membership list. So, the polls are not being taken among the people who will actually do the voting on October 26 to 28.

Rather, pollsters are simply surveying the general public – including, for instance, NDP supporters and provincial Liberals.

If you consider that Kenney’s team has sold tens of thousands of memberships for the Tory leadership vote this spring, for the unification vote this summer and for the current UCP leadership; then you add in the fact that the UCP has more than twice as many members in areas where Kenney is stronger than Jean, the edge at this point probably goes to Kenney.

Schweitzer could also pose a problem for Jean.

I suspect there will be a Stop Kenney movement. People who want to prevent the former federal cabinet minister from winning will look to line up behind one of the other three.

Schweitzer did himself the most good at Wednesday’s debate by appearing informed, articulate and credible (an upgrade from completely unknown). Jean seemed to do the worse by being flat, reading too often from prepared notes and referring to himself in the third person: “Brian Jean is this … Brian Jean will do that …”

Calgary voters who want an alternative to Kenney could easily choose Schweitzer over Jean, which would split the vote in Kenney’s favour.


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 23, 2017 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

​UCP leadership race enters homestretch

James Wood, Calgary Herald James Wood, Calgary Herald
More from James Wood, Calgary Herald

Published on: October 23, 2017 | Last Updated: October 23, 2017 6:00 AM MDT

The race to become the first leader of the new United Conservative Party has entered the home stretch, with the victor to be determined by force of personality and strength of campaign organization.

As UCP members prepare to cast their votes this week ahead of Saturday’s announcement of the winner, there are few major policy differences between contenders Brian Jean, Jason Kenney and Doug Schweitzer, with all three candidates pitching a vision of tax cuts, reduced spending and a business-friendly attitude that will undo what they say is the damage inflicted by Rachel Notley’s NDP government.

“They’ll all kill the carbon tax, they’ll all fight the federal game for you on Alberta’s side. Yeah. There’s not much to distinguish them (on policy),” said Faron Ellis, the Lethbridge College political scientist who is a longtime observer and sometime participant in conservative politics in Alberta.

Instead, the three candidates bring distinctive personal styles and track records for voters to choose from, with each man claiming to have the mix of elements that makes him the most electable as Alberta’s next premier.

Jean is the upbeat former Opposition leader who touts his time in the legislature trenches battling Notley, while Kenney says his federal cabinet experience and elbows-up political instincts give him the edge. Schweitzer, meanwhile, is the new face promising to revamp conservative politics with a moderate approach on social issues.

The UCP was founded this summer when Progressive Conservative and Wildrose members voted to join together in a new party, healing a decade-old civil war on Alberta’s right.

The two leaders of those parties are viewed as the main contenders for the new party’s crown, though little of the PC and Wildrose divide has carried over to the race. Kenney, a longtime MP in Calgary, served as Tory leader for less than five months after dragging a reluctant PC party toward unity.

Jean, too, is a former Conservative MP who has his own political bragging rights after taking over Wildrose in 2015 and leading it back into Opposition after the party had been decimated by a mass floor-crossing of its MLAs.

While Jean and Kenney are former parliamentary colleagues, there is notable tension between them as they seek a job that gives each of them an excellent chance of becoming Alberta’s next premier.

Former Wildrose leader Brian Jean stands near his campaign RV. Gavin Young / Postmedia

In an interview, Jean made a veiled allusion to Kenney’s refusal to issue detailed policy positions, which he says is in deference to the will of party members.

“We can’t run away from the issues and policy discussions. We have to share our ideas on policy, people expect it,” said Jean.

“We can’t avoid social issues . . . we have to deal with them face-on or Albertans won’t trust us. We have to define what our intentions are and we can’t hide them or the NDP. They will define us if we don’t define ourselves.”

Jean, the only sitting MLA in the race as the member for Fort McMurray-Conklin, has also accused Kenney’s campaign of lying about his record and personal beliefs.

For his part, Kenney has taken aim at Jean for what he says is mismanagement of the Wildrose caucus budget, leading to a shortfall on the books of the newly merged UCP caucus.

UCP leadership candidate Jason Kenny speaks at a media event at the Blackfoot Diner. Gavin Young / Postmedia Network

He’s also suggested that Jean blew hot and cold on unifying with the Tories until the political pressure to join became too much.

Kenney said winning the PC party leadership and shepherding the Tories toward a unity deal with the Wildrose is a capstone to his years as an MP and cabinet minister.

“I think that track record speaks for itself. Brian has his own background he can speak to but this is a lifetime of experience that has prepared me well for the huge challenge of governing Alberta in a time of great adversity,” he said.

Schweitzer is both the dark horse in the race and the candidate who has staked out the greatest distance from the other contenders.

The lawyer and sometime political organizer has repeatedly hammered home the message that the party must be moderate on hot-button social issues.

Schweitzer said he’s not daunted by squaring off against two candidates with lengthy political resumes, arguing there’s ample evidence that voters want a fresh voice who can make a clean break from the past.

United Conservative Party Leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer at his campaign kick-off.

“Right now, I think it comes down to electability,” said Schweitzer.

“Experience, while important, isn’t always the biggest indicator of success in politics.”

UCP members will vote by phone or online from Thursday through Saturday, with results announced in Calgary on Saturday evening.

The cut-off to hold a party membership to be eligible to vote was weeks ago — meaning there will be no UCP version of the “two-minute Tories” who would sign up at the end of past PC leadership elections — so the campaigns are targeting a fixed group of nearly 62,000 members who registered with the party.

Those UCP members, in turn, will vote using a preferential ballot, so who they select as their second choice could turn out to be crucial in a tight race.

“I don’t think any of the campaigns have the strength to win this on the first ballot,” said Schweitzer.

Ellis, who attended last week’s final leadership debate in Lethbridge, said the contest will ultimately turn on factors such as how well campaigns did selling memberships, identifying their voters and ensuring they cast their ballots.

“It’s all about organization,” he said.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 26, 2017 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jean gets assist from Fleury; Kenney ices more Conservative MPs

James Wood, Calgary Herald James Wood, Calgary Herald
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Published on: October 25, 2017 | Last Updated: October 25, 2017 6:26 PM MDT

Former NHLer and advocate Theo Fleury poses with UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean in Calgary Wednesday, October 25, 2017. Fleury endorsed Jean for the leadership of the UCP. Jim Wells / Postmedia

Brian Jean got an assist from former NHLer Theo Fleury Wednesday but Jason Kenney flooded the ice with MPs as the United Conservative Party leadership contest entered crunch time.

Kenney issued a press release announcing he had the backing of 23 current Conservative MPs from Alberta just minutes ahead of Jean’s news conference announcing the endorsement from Fleury.

Fleury was a star for the Calgary Flames but he is also known as an advocate on issues of mental health and child abuse after being sexually abused by a coach while a junior hockey player.

He said his advocacy work is part of why he’s supporting Jean, the Fort McMurray-Conklin MLA and former Wildrose leader.

“Talking to Brian, I can see the type of man he is. He’s somebody who cares deeply about this province,” said Fleury at the Mount Pleasant Sportsplex.

“He knows the importance of not letting people fall through the cracks. He understands why we need to fight for better mental health services. He will fight for victims and those suffering from addictions.”

Fleury, a UCP member, said he hoped to be able to advise Jean but he wasn’t interested in running for office. He said he had voted for the Liberals in the last federal election but would never do so again, and he slammed the provincial NDP government for its handling of mental health and the economy.

Party members will begin voting Thursday to select the first leader of the UCP, formed this summer when members of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties voted to join together in a new party.

Jean is squaring off with Kenney, the former leader of the PC party, and Doug Schweitzer, a Calgary lawyer, with the winner announced Saturday.

Both Kenney and Jean are former Conservative MPs but Kenney has won the support of nearly all of the 29 Alberta members of the federal Opposition caucus.

Among those backing Kenney are Calgary MPs Michelle Rempel, Ron Liepert, Deepak Obhrai, Pat Kelly, Tom Kmiec and Bob Benzen.

“If I am chosen to lead our new, united party, I look forward to working with our federal Conservative colleagues to advance the interests of Alberta,” said Kenney in a news release.

Jean dismissed the significance of the MPs taking a side in the race.

“The endorsements I’m looking for are everyday Albertans,” he said.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

UCP candidates vie for leadership job as voting begins Thursday

Emma Graney Emma Graney
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Published on: October 26, 2017 | Last Updated: October 26, 2017 6:00 AM MDT

United Conservative Party leadership candidates from left; Jason Kenney, Doug Schweitzer and Brian Jean. Gavin Young / Postmedia

United Conservative Party members begin voting Thursday for the first official leader of the fledgling party.

Three candidates are left in the fray, each of whom coughed up $75,000 for a stab at the title — Brian Jean, Jason Kenney and Doug Schweitzer.

The official leadership race ran for about four months, but the unofficial contest has lasted far longer.

You could argue it began back in July 2016 when Kenney first started touting the idea of a unified provincial conservative party around Alberta.

Then still a Calgary Conservative MP — a job he kept until Sept. 20, 2016 — Kenney spent months criss-crossing Alberta in a blue pickup adorned with Unite Alberta signage, encouraging conservatives to get behind the cause as he vied for leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party.

His modus operandi was to sign up as many small-c conservatives as possible, securing their votes in the PC race so he could execute the first step in his five-point unity plan.

Even then, conservatives regularly asked, “What about Brian Jean?”

They seemed unsure if they would vote against the popular Wildrose leader, who brought his party back from the brink of destruction to the role of official Opposition in the 2015 election.

Kenney would kind of shrug and say he’d serve under anyone who could defeat the NDP. Their defeat, he would say, is bigger than any single ego, any single party.

Kenney’s answer was, essentially, first things first. And that first step was rallying enough support for a united right so the idea would come to fruition.

In January, Jean declared he was officially on board with a unity mandate. Two months later, Kenney romped to a win in the PC leadership race, securing 75 per cent of votes.

Figuring out the business of how the Wildrose and PC parties would come together took weeks of careful negotiation.

In May, Jean and Kenney held a joint media event announcing they had reached an agreement in principle. That day, they were asked if they’d each run for leader of the new party; Jean said yes immediately, but Kenney said he’d cross that bridge after the unity vote.

The vote came on July 22 this year. Just over half of each party’s members cast a unity ballot. It was a resounding victory for the Yes campaign, which won with 95 per cent of the votes.

The next step in the UCP’s journey to becoming a fully formed party is electing the leader. It will then hold a founding convention to sort out the intricacies of its framework and policy.

These are the three men running for leader.

Brian Jean Greg Southam / Postmedia

Brian Jean

Jean officially declared his run for the leadership July 25.

A past Fort McMurray MP, lawyer and business owner, Jean, 54, comes to the race with the benefit of being a familiar face in Alberta politics, with popularity on the conservative side of the divide.

Like Kenney, Jean spent many years as a federal Conservative MP in Ottawa. He was first elected to represent Athabasca in 2004, then Fort McMurray-Athabasca in 2006.

Jean served as a parliamentary secretary for a few years before declining reappointment to focus on his constituency. He resigned in January 2014 to spend time with his sick son.

The next year, he announced he’d enter politics once again, this time on a provincial stage as he vied for the Wildrose leadership. The party had been left rudderless, losing its leader and a chunk of MLAs during a series of floor-crossings under Danielle Smith.

Jean was elected Wildrose leader March 28, 2015 — just days after the death of his son, and two months before the provincial election. He led the party from near destruction to official Opposition in the election.

As opposition leader, Jean has rallied against the carbon tax, mounting provincial debt under the NDP government, equalization calculations, crime and problems with the health-care system.

He regularly polls well among Albertans. He married his wife, Kim, last year, is comfortable in cowboy boots or riding a horse, and was applauded for how he handled the Fort McMurray wildfire that destroyed his own home.

But he has also faced internal pressures.

He bore the brunt of blame for a UCP caucus deficit that saw political staffers laid off, and was publicly dissed by then-Wildrose, now independent, MLA Derek Fildebrandt, who said on the day of the unity vote he’d never support his boss for leader of a united party.

Some former Wildrosers remain angry that Jean was even onside with unity. His party was, after all, created after a splinter of disillusioned Tories left over what they saw as misspending and a divergence from conservative ideals.

A decade of animosity between the two parties had created a ravine-like divide. Some still refuse to come onside with the UCP, including a group that has since formed a kind of Wildrose 2.0 called the Alberta Advantage Party.

Jean received endorsements from a good chunk of UCP MLAs from the Wildrose team, but hasn’t won over what used to be the PC bench, most of whom have gravitated towards Kenney.

Three exceptions are Wayne Drysdale, who’s backing Schweitzer; Richard Starke, who says he’ll remain a PC come the fall sitting; and Rick Fraser, who left the UCP altogether to sit as an independent.

An integral part of Jean’s leadership campaign has been policy. Only he and Schweitzer have released planks they say would form the backbone of their leadership.

Jason Kenney Shaughn Butts / Postmedia

Jason Kenney

Kenney was once a heavy-hitter in then-prime minister Stephen Harper’s cabinet.

The Ontario-born 49-year-old was a rumoured contender in the race for federal Tory leader after his government lost power.

Instead, in 2016, he returned to Alberta — after nearly 20 years in Ottawa as a Calgary MP — in a bid to unite conservatives.

Kenney officially declared his intention to head the UCP on July 29. It marked his second leadership campaign in less than a year after he fought for the PC crown, winning handily.

Kenney has often brandished his time in Ottawa — in particular, his roles with federal cabinet — as proof he can lead the UCP to victory.

While Jean points to polls indicating he could win seats in Edmonton far more easily than his rival, Kenney tends to frame leadership not as a battle against Premier Rachel Notley, but against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

In Ottawa, Kenney made sweeping and controversial changes to the immigration program. More recently, he faced questions over how an immigrant accused of a September truck attack in Edmonton made it into Canada under his watch. But he also won over a large number of socially conservative immigrants, bringing them into the federal Tory fold.

He also served terms as defence and employment minister.

During the UCP leadership campaign, Kenney has brushed aside calls from rivals to release policy. He has, however, declared he would repeal the carbon tax and what he calls “damaging” NDP policies if elected.

Kenney is seen as more divisive than Jean on social policy.

He has said parents should sometimes know if their child joins a gay-straight alliance at school and has repeatedly hammered the NDP’s curriculum overhaul as social engineering. This week, he backed Catholic educators, saying they had every right to teach kids sex education as they see fit.

Kenney has continued to drive around the province in his blue Dodge pickup. He picked up 23 endorsements from federal Tory MPs on Wednesday, the same day Jean received an endorsement from former NHLer Theo Fleury.

Unlike the PC race, in which Kenney was fined by the party over a hospitality suite, he hasn’t been penalized for misbehaviour. After letting his UCP membership lapse, however, he did have to be granted a waiver to run for leader at all.

Kenney regularly uses the term “servant leadership” as his motivation for running.


Doug Schweitzer

Calgary lawyer and political strategist Schweitzer, a 38-year-old married dad of two, brought to the race youth and a repeated dedication to socially progressive policy and fiscal conservatism.

His campaign comes with the tagline “the New Blue.”

Hitting coffee shops, gatherings and university bars across the province, Schweitzer focused on young UCP members who don’t want to see Alberta’s conservative party move back to debating issues such as abortion and gay-straight alliances.

As Jean and Kenney attacked one another directly or indirectly on social media, Schweitzer largely floated above the fray.

This week, though, when Kenney backed a Catholic sex-ed curriculum that consent can’t be taught as the threshold to have sex, Schweitzer jumped in with a news release saying “consent is black and white.” This is the exact kind of issue, he said, on which the UCP cannot be vague.

Schweitzer also hoped to court the vote of so-called Red Tories, who see Jean and Kenney as too right-leaning and too socially conservative.

When he first entered the race — on June 1, before the UCP was even voted into existence — Schweitzer would happily say most party members couldn’t pick him out of a line-up.

But he used that to his advantage, avoiding a target on his back by being the distinct underdog.

He’s not a career politician, Schweitzer is fond of saying. He’s an everyday Albertan who wants the province’s economic advantage back.

Like Jean and Kenney, Schweitzer says a UCP under his watch would roll back the carbon tax. Unlike the other two men, he would also roll back the minimum wage, arguing it hurts businesses and will shed jobs from the Alberta economy.

Schweitzer has been releasing policy ideas since he entered the race. Health care, infrastructure, education, reforming business regulations and closing the province’s gender gap have all formed part of his campaign.

As you might expect from a fiscal conservative, he also has a tax plan; he has proposed what he says is the largest tax relief in Alberta’s history, which would create jobs and curb government spending.

The UCP’s first leader will be announced Saturday in Calgary.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Three-day vote underway to select leader of United Conservative Party of Alberta

Dan Grummett and Julia Parrish, CTV Edmonton
Published Thursday, October 26, 2017 11:33AM MDT

The vote to select the first elected leader of the United Conservative Party began Thursday. Three candidates are in the running to lead the UCP: Former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean, former Progressive Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney, and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer.

It is a race political expert Duane Bratt said will be tough to call.

“Originally I thought Jason Kenney in a cakewalk, but Brian Jean has put up a pretty good fight,” said Bratt, a professor at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

UCP Leadership
UCP leadership candidates Brian Jean, Jason Kenney and Dough Schweitzer are seen in a composite image.

On Wednesday in Calgary, Jean announced an endorsement from former NHL player, Theoren Fleury. Almost simultaneously, Kenney sent out a press release stating he received the endorsement of 23 current Alberta Members of Parliament.

The race has been clean, for the most part. The two frontrunners have engaged in minimal bouts of verbal jousting. The UCP, still very much in its infancy, does not have defined political policies. But Kenney and Jean have agreed on a common enemy.

“Their policy appears to be get rid of the NDP and get rid of anything the NDP has ever done,” Bratt said.

Meanwhile, the NDP will be watching the vote closely. Multiple polls have said no matter who wins Saturday’s leadership vote, the UCP will be a threat in the next provincial election.

“I imagine someone will fill me in on what happens,” said Premier Rachel Notley when asked if she’ll be monitoring the vote during a public appearance Wednesday in Edmonton.

“I haven’t gone out to buy extra popcorn yet.”

Bratt had some insight as two which candidate the governing party might want to see come out victorious.

“I think [the NDP] wasn’t Kenney to win. I think they see Kenney as a more divisive figure and basically (in the next election) you end up with a right vs. left battle,” Bratt said.

For his last campaign stop in Edmonton Tuesday, Jean held a press conference in front of Premier Rachel Notley’s constituency office in Edmonton-Strathcona. Jean stated some members of the UCP refer to the area as, “the heart of darkness for Alberta conservatives”, and suggested NDP ridings are vulnerable. He billed himself as the party’s only shot at victory in the 2019 provincial election.

“All of the major polls in this province have indicated that I am the most popular political leader,” Jean said.

Fellow frontrunner, Jason Kenney, also held a campaign rally in Edmonton on Tuesday evening. Kenney was elected leader of the former Progressive Conservative Party shortly before the Wildrose and PC approved a merger in late July. Kenney has focused his campaign on his political track record, reminding supporters he was the architect of the “Unite the Right” movement in Alberta.

“One way or another, I’ll be happy with the outcome, because we’ve created a movement,” Kenney said.

Voting starts at 9 a.m. Thursday, and wraps up at 5 p.m. Saturday, October 28. Party members can vote online or by phone.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 27, 2017 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

( whoever wins has a major lead over the ndp , 55 % for UCP to almost 20 % for the ndp )

Poll shows UCP with massive support over NDP

The poll by Lethbridge College sampled more than 1,400 Albertans by phone

JONATHAN HAYWARD / The Canadian Press

Rachel Notley's NDP are in a distant second to the UCP according to a recent poll.

By: Brodie Thomas Metro Published on Thu Oct 26 2017

The United Conservative Party (UCP) is choosing their leader this weekend, but a poll is showing that regardless of who wins that race, a majority of Albertans would vote for the party if the election were held today.

The polling was done by students at Lethbridge College under the direction of professor Faron Ellis.

They interviewed 1,481 Albertans contacted on landline and cellular telephone between Sept. 30 and Oct. 5.

It found that province-wide, 55.8 per cent would vote for the UCP and 19.3 per cent for the NDP. The Liberals came third with 12.8 per cent of respondents, with 5.8 saying they'd vote for the Alberta Party.

The margin of error was 2.55 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

Ellis said the poll shows similar results to previous polls he'd seen on the same question, with one exception: The UCP are leading among Edmonton voters, too. That city is traditionally an NDP stronghold.

"If anything – the UCP was gaining momentum rather than losing momentum over the summer," said Ellis.

Lori Williams, associate professor of political science with Mount Royal University, noted that the new UCP numbers aren't as high as the combined PC and Wildrose numbers from one year ago.

"The total number is lower by about 8.3 percent, so what that means is that not all former PCs or Wildrose voters support the new united conservative party, and that's without even knowing who the leader is."

She said more centrist voters could move to other parties once the leader is chosen, if they feel he's too conservative, or not conservative enough.

Ellis said the poll is merely a snapshot in time, and the election is still at least a year away.

"I would expect all of these numbers to change," said Ellis. "I would not count the NDP out in Edmonton at all."


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


After a tense campaign, UCP members vote for the leader they believe can defeat Notley

Kelly Cryderman


14 hours ago

October 27, 2017

United Conservatives will meet their leader this weekend, allowing the party to move on to what they see as the pressing business of defeating Premier Rachel Notley's NDP government in the provincial election less than two years away.

The United Conservative Party hopes to capitalize on public anger over government policies such as the carbon tax and angst over massive deficits and a still-brittle economy. For their part, the NDP will assail the United Conservatives for their positions on social issues and will attempt to rally public-sector workers to vote against UCP calls to roll back public-sector salaries and implement hiring freezes.

"The fortunes of the UCP will be determined by the leader," said Chaldeans Mensah, a political scientist at MacEwan University in Edmonton. "The key for the conservative voting block in Alberta – and this amalgamation of the two parties – is to have a leader to be the face of the party and to be able to set the terrain for policy development and the building of constituency associations in preparation for the next election," which is likely to be scheduled between March 1 and May 31, 2019.

The leadership contest between Brian Jean, Jason Kenney and Doug Schweitzer has defined the early existence of the UCP, which was created when members of the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative parties overwhelmingly voted to merge in July.

The candidates agree in broad strokes that the province – which could have a $94-billion debt by 2020, according to one credit rating agency – needs to massively curtail spending and attract more business investment. But party members must choose between the three based on who they believe can win a general election, who would make the best premier and which candidate's social views best reflect their own – including where they stand on controversial issues such as sex ed and educational choice for parents.

Tensions between the camps of Mr. Jean and Mr. Kenney ran throughout the leadership campaign and occasionally flared in public. For instance, Mr. Jean's comment this summer that the days of "hard-right" governments in Alberta are over was a veiled slight directed at Mr. Kenney. Mr. Jean also tried to link the former federal cabinet minister to the Sept. 30 attacks on a police officer and pedestrians in Edmonton by asking how Somali national Abdulahi Hasan Sharif, the alleged perpetrator, got into Canada while Mr. Kenney was in charge of immigration. (Mr. Kenney called the comments "ridiculous" and noted his changes to improve immigration security screening while in Ottawa.)

Meanwhile, the political attacks on Mr. Jean, the former Wildrose leader, have come mostly through Mr. Kenney's allies. Jeff Callaway, the former Wildrose president who dropped out of the leadership race early this month to support Mr. Kenney, used his time on stage during debates in September to criticize Mr. Jean, accusing him of not focusing enough on Wildrose's "grassroots" members. Mr. Jean says he has been especially angered that Mr. Kenney's supporters have used social media to raise questions about his commitment to Christian values.

But Mr. Kenney did put himself in the fray when he criticized Mr. Jean for running a deficit of more than $300,000 at the Wildrose legislature offices, with Mr. Jean arguing that budgets are seasonal and that there won't be a deficit by the end of the year.

At the same time, Mr. Schweitzer targeted Mr. Kenney's reputation as a social conservative – based on the latter's university days as an anti-abortion spokesman and his current belief that in some cases parents should be told if their kids have joined a gay-straight alliance at school. Mr. Schweitzer has said Mr. Kenney's positions, or lack of clarity, on these issues will be an albatross for the party in the next election.

Brian Jean

United Conservative Party candidate Brian Jean. (Chris Bolin/ The Globe and Mail)

When Brian Jean explains why he wants to be Alberta's premier – saying what he has now said hundreds of times – he tells the personal story of losing his 24-year-old son in March, 2015. It's still painful and raw.

"It's the only way I can fix health care," said Mr. Jean, 54, taking a moment to compose himself in a recent interview. "That's what it's all about."

Mr. Jean's family has been in Fort McMurray for 50 years, much longer than most in a community whose population boomed only in the past two decades, alongside oil sands development. He describes himself as a hunter and trapper. But his mother, Frances, started the first newspaper in town, and his family's City Centre Group Inc. now owns commercial real estate, a car wash and a parking lot.

His son Michael was set to take over the business when he died after what Mr. Jean describes as months in and out of hospital, having the wrong medicines administered and his lymphoma misdiagnosed. "We were building a hotel," Mr. Jean said, speaking about his son's role in the business.

Outside politics, there is much Mr. Jean could do. But he says he is motivated daily to improve the health-care system by working on issues such as cutting wait times and building a single e-record system that he says will promote patient-centred care.

He is the only sitting MLA in the leadership race. Before becoming Wildrose leader in 2015 – and rebuilding the party from a mass floor-crossing to the PC party in late 2014 – he had sat as a Conservative backbencher for a decade. He doesn't have anything near the federal endorsements of his chief rival, Mr. Kenney, but he has some high-profile supporters, including former TransCanada chief executive Hal Kvisle and former hockey star Theo Fleury, as well as the only two women in the UCP caucus, Leela Aheer and Angela Pitt.

His former campaign manager, Hamish Marshall, has stepped away from the day-to-day to move into his role as the federal Conservative Party's campaign chair for 2019, but Mr. Jean said he still provides regular advice.

Like Mr. Kenney, Mr. Jean says Alberta should take a harder line if the federal government implements energy policies that impede oil sands development or if other provinces try to block pipeline construction. Both men are calling for a provincial referendum on the Equalization Program, which would give Alberta leverage in talks regarding a new deal with Ottawa.

But Mr. Jean takes a softer tone in explaining why he wants a referendum. He says it's not about getting Albertans enraged, it's about providing a relief valve for people who are disappointed with Ottawa and other provinces.

"It's boiling to anger," he said. "That's why we have to have this referendum, so they can have their say."

His campaign push in the past week featured stops in both Edmonton and Calgary, where the UCP likely faces a greater challenge against the governing NDP. In the provincial capital, the UCP is less popular than in other parts of the province. Mr. Jean – the candidate with the highest polling numbers and the only one to hail from outside Calgary – says he's the only one who stands a chance of winning any seats in Edmonton in 2019.

Jason Kenney

Former MP Jason Kenney now running for the leadership of the newly unified United Conservative Party is photographed at the Blackfoot Truckstop Diner on Friday, October 20, 2017. (Chris Bolin/ The Globe and Mail)

If patrons of the Blackfoot Truckstop Diner all voted, Jason Kenney would have the leadership contest in the bag. He says that every time he sets foot in Calgary's most famous greasy spoon, often for media interviews, someone buys him breakfast.

But Mr. Kenney, 49, says his political popularity is broad. "We're feeling pretty confident," he said in the days before the vote.

Many view him as the frontrunner, and there's a lot of reasoning on his side. A former Conservative MP and cabinet minister, he has a wellspring of experience in the much-tougher political arena of Ottawa. He has a long list of political endorsements from federal Conservatives, and his campaign team brags they have more than 4,000 volunteers pounding the pavement on his behalf.

His Calgary-heavy cadre of powerful advisers and fundraisers includes GMP FirstEnergy's Jim Davidson and veteran political operative Cliff Fryers. John Weissenberger, a close friend and ally of former prime minister Stephen Harper, is his campaign manager. Mr. Kenney has a strong claim to being the main catalyst in Alberta's conservative unification movement.

Ultimately, he is trying to get people to look beyond the next election – to convince them that he will "be an effective premier at a very challenging time." He bristles at the suggestion his political success comes simply from his strength in organizing voting wings. "You can't organize non-support."

But Mr. Kenney is polarizing to many. Some still have bad memories of his pointed attacks on politicians during his days with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and what he describes as his "stylistically aggressive" performance in the House of Commons as an MP. In polls of the overall Alberta electorate, people do not appear to like Mr. Kenney as much as they do Mr. Jean – something that may be on party members' minds as they cast their ballots. Mr. Kenney says some UCP party members think he's just "from Ottawa."

His more conservative stance on social issues, past and present, continues to ruffle feathers and remains a point of attack for his critics and the NDP government, even though he refers to himself as a "mainstream, unhyphenated conservative." He never says much about his personal life and he agrees he's married to the job.

"My personal life isn't that …" he says, trailing off. "What am I going to do – talk about the latest book I read on the road or the latest movie I saw?"

Doug Schweitzer

United Conservative Party leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer. (Amber Bracken/ The Globe and Mail)

Doug Schweitzer's key moment during the leadership race may have come during the Lethbridge debate this month, when he gave an impassioned speech about the results of Calgary's municipal election.

"The left wing kicked our butt," he said of the Oct. 16 vote that saw incumbent Mayor Naheed Nenshi returned to office. "The NDP organizers were active. And young people showed up in droves."

The 38-year-old restructuring partner from the Calgary office of law firm Dentons is the least-known candidate of the three, with no experience in elected office. But Mr. Schweitzer has performed well in debates – getting strong applause from the live audiences – and has found some momentum with his argument that there has been a generational change and that the UCP needs to be "socially moderate."

He says that belief helped inform his decision to enter the leadership contest against Mr. Kenney and Mr. Jean. And he argues that the new party is in danger of losing because the governing NDP will run its next election campaign on social issues – not the troubled state of the province's finances.

"I've seen a shift in politics here. And I don't think we can go back to a traditional conservative model and be successful," he said in an interview.

His past political experience is in organizing for others. He helped with the rebuilding of Manitoba's Progressive Conservative Party during Hugh McFadyen's tenure as leader. He is a long-time friend of Bill Smith – who challenged Mr. Nenshi in Calgary but lost – and ran Mr. Smith's successful 2009 bid for the PC Party presidency. He also headed the PC leadership campaign for Jim Prentice in 2014.

So his experience is in the backroom, but he has long been talked about as a leadership candidate by conservatives who want a youthful, energetic infusion to the party. His list of political endorsements is short, but his campaign's honorary chair is PC stalwart Peter Elzinga, who served as chief of staff to former Alberta premier Ralph Klein.

Although Mr. Schweitzer has two young daughters, he said this year was the right time for him to make a long-mulled leap into elected politics.

"With my training as a restructuring partner at the firm, it gives you a certain skill set to help turn around organizations and companies that are facing difficulty," he said. "We're facing a similar situation here in Alberta right now, where we need to turn this around."

Following a 2-1/2-day voting period by phone and online, the preferential ballot results of the leadership contest will be announced in Calgary on Saturday after 5 p.m. MT.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

October 27, 2017 1:02 am Updated: October 27, 2017 9:04 pm

Voting in Alberta UCP leadership race to continue despite PIN security concerns

By Phil Heidenreich, Tom Vernon and Melissa Gilligan Global News

Voting in the Alberta United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership race will go ahead as normal, despite concerns raised about the voting process by two of the candidates vying for the party’s top spot.

The leadership election committee said Friday it is satisfied with the security measures in place to protect the integrity of voters’ personal identification numbers (PINs).

“I am absolutely confident in the system of distributing PINs,” said Robyn Henwood, chair of the leadership election committee for the UCP.

“It’s an airtight system, we’ve had absolutely no complaints. We do an ongoing investigation throughout the entire process and no red flags have come up at all.”

The decision comes after Brian Jean’s and Doug Schweitzer’s leadership campaigns submitted a formal request Thursday night to pause the voting process.

Schweitzer told Global News the request was made because of concerns about how simple it was for voters to get personal identification numbers.

“We had a couple volunteers call into us saying, ‘Hey, we went to get a new pin number, we called the number. We were amazed at how easy it was,’” Schweitzer told Global News on Friday.

“The party has put in place, originally, some pretty robust protocols to make sure that there isn’t any ability to impact it from a voter-fraud perspective. But right now, all you have to do is call in to the hotline, tell them your name and an address … and somebody can get a voting PIN.

“We have a little bit of concerns that that’s not the right way to do this. We’ve asked the party to fix this issue right now – and suspend voting until it’s done.”

WATCH: Doug Schweitzer joined Global Calgary live in studio on Friday, at which time he discussed why he and fellow UPC leadership candidate Brian Jean want voting paused.

Play Video

The UCP told Global News it is confident with the security procedures in place, including tracking Internet Protocol addresses of where the votes are cast.

“Since the allegations were made, we’ve asked for some evidence to be produced because we don’t see it on our end and we’ve yet to see that evidence,” UCP executive director Janice Harrington said Friday.

“The call centre has all of your information and you must verify who you are. You can’t call on behalf of somebody else and get their PIN, you must confirm your name and address.

“If by chance somebody had that information on you, and [they] called and were given a PIN in a way that would be considered fraudulent, what we would see is the person would go to vote legitimately and their PIN would be disabled because they’ve already voted — or because somebody’s called and got a new PIN and their old PIN was disabled.”

However, the Jean and Schweitzer campaigns raised further concerns Friday, suggesting they’ve seen evidence VPN (virtual private network) might be used to mask IP addresses. Both campaigns have raised this issue with the leadership election committee.

Two people contacted Global News on Friday claiming to be UCP members who have still not received their PINs to vote. They said they were unable to get through to the party by phone.

On Friday evening, Harrington told Global News the party was resending PINs to remaining members who have not yet voted.

In an email Friday afternoon, Jason Kenney’s campaign said it is “100 per cent focused on our get-out-the-vote efforts, and won’t be distracted by this.”

About 1,500 new PINs have been issued and the party said it has not heard concerns from any members.

“I think that this race is going to be very, very close – so we want to make sure that we get this fixed and hopefully the party takes this concern very seriously,” Schweitzer said.

Late Friday afternoon, Jean tweeted that he believed any questions about the integrity of the voting system had been cleared up.

“GOTV (get out the vote) running in high gear!” Jean tweeted. “Questions about process have been resolved & am confident in integrity of system. One more day! We can win this!”

Mount Royal University political analyst Duane Bratt said problems with electronic voting often pop up during party leadership races.

“This is not surprising,” Bratt said. “It doesn’t seem to happen as much during general elections but it does during party leadership races.”

However, he notes issues never seem to be brought up by the candidate seen as the front-runner.

“Kenney was seen as the front-runner. This suggestion by the Jean and Schweitzer camps that there’s a problem with the voting matches the script. It’s never the front-runner who is complaining about the voting. It’s always those who are behind, so we’ve seen this movie before.”

The UCP said by Friday afternoon, over 68 per cent of members had already cast their vote. About 60,000 people are registered to vote in the race.

READ MORE: 3-horse race enters homestretch in United Conservative Party leadership vote

Jean, Schweitzer and Kenney are all vying for the leadership of the new UCP party, which formed earlier this year after Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party and the Wildrose Party agreed to merge.

Voting to select the first UCP leader began at 9 a.m. on Thursday. Voting ends at 5 p.m. on Saturday. The leader will be announced at a media event in Calgary soon after voting closes.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 9:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

( Jason Kenney has won the UCP leadership race , maybe not much of a surpise , I can't see how he doesn't eventually become premier of alberta in a couple of years )

Jason Kenney declared leader of Alberta's United Conservative Party

Jason Kenney celebrates after being elected leader of the United Conservative Party. The leadership race winner was announced at the BMO Centre in Calgary on Saturday October 28, 2017. Gavin Young/Postmedia

Emma Graney, Postmedia News
Oct 29, 2017
, Last Updated: 10:25 AM ET

Jason Kenney has swept to victory as the first leader of Alberta’s new United Conservative Party.

Kenney was elected with 61.1% of the vote, beating former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, with 31.5%, and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer with 7.3%.

He was declared the winner in a press release posted to the party’s website well before the news was announced at the UCP event at the Stampede grounds in Calgary, which was jammed with close to 2,000 party supporters.

A party official admitted the premature press release was posted early by mistake.

After taking the stage to the Paul Brandt song Alberta Bound, Kenney used his victory speech to thank Jean and Schweitzer, and launch a rallying cry for the 2019 election.

In that election, he declared to party faithful, the “deceptive,” “job-killing,” “accidental socialist government” of the NDP will be limited to one term.

Kenney told the crowd the UCP was sending a message to all Albertans, that “hope is on the horizon and common sense is coming back.”

Jean wasn’t speaking with the media after his loss, but in a Facebook post thanked his supporters and wished Kenney well.

“Our party is united, it’s strong, and together, we will bring prosperity back to Alberta,” Jean wrote.

Third-place candidate Schweitzer said he was mulling over running in the 2019 election, and would soon sit down with Kenney to discuss his plans.

“This is the party of the future,” Schweitzer said.

“We’re going to keep attracting new members to this party, and attracting what I think will be the best slate of candidates Alberta has seen in decades.”

Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman said she wasn’t surprised by the outcome.

She congratulated Kenney, but said she has seen the Opposition move further to the right of late.

Hoffman wouldn’t weigh in on whether a Kenney victory was what the NDP wanted.

However, she did say she was looking forward to seeing where the new UCP leader stands on social policy issues — particularly when it comes to gay-straight alliances and rolling back the NDP’s environmental policies.

Kenney wasn’t taking questions from the media Saturday night, but is slated to hold a news conference Sunday afternoon.


The former Calgary MP returned to the province from Ottawa in 2016. Clutched in his fist was a five-point plan to unite Alberta’s conservatives.

His first step was to secure leadership of the Progressive Conservatives, which he did decisively in March, winning 75% of that vote.

Kenney’s victory on Saturday was slightly smaller, but still decisive.

It’s the latest in a series of wins for Kenney.

July’s unity vote — in which Kenney drove the “yes” wagon — ended with a resounding 95-per-cent thumbs up from the 54% of Wildrose and PC members who cast a ballot.

Kenney came to the UCP race backed by a veritable juggernaut of 20 years of Ottawa organizational skills.

He spent 18 months criss-crossing the province in his blue Dodge pickup truck, first drumming up support for unity and his PC leadership bid, then for votes in the UCP race.

Years of dislike between the PCs and Wildrose parties and their acrimonious split won’t be forgotten overnight, but the overwhelming support for unity displayed in the July vote paved the way for a UCP that seems to want to work together.

Indeed, the former Tories and Wildrosers have already been sharing caucus space and news releases since the two came together and were given official opposition status by Speaker Robert Wanner.

When the fall session convenes Monday, the physical space between the two on the legislative floor will have disappeared as well.

Kenney must now work to further unite the new party’s base.

It has 106,000 members, 62,000 of whom registered to cast a ballot in the three-day virtual leadership vote.


The first ever UCP leadership race was a sometimes tense event.

While Kenney, Jean and Schweitzer mostly shied away from personal potshots at one another, a ribbon of dislike rippled behind the scenes as candidates fought for the same conservative turf.

The voting process itself was marred by PIN problems, and an official complaint about security was made by Schweitzer’s team.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 10:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jason Kenney wins Alberta United Conservative leadership race

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press
Published Saturday, October 28, 2017 8:23AM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, October 28, 2017 9:23PM EDT

CALGARY -- Former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney has won the leadership of Alberta's United Conservative Party.

The longtime Calgary MP, who held high-ranking positions in the government of Stephen Harper, captured 61 per cent of more than 58,000 votes to become the head of the new party in voting Saturday night.

Kenney takes over a new 27-member caucus and the Official Opposition to Premier Rachel Notley's NDP government in the legislature.

Jason Kenney
Jason Kenney celebrates his victory as the first official leader of the Alberta United Conservative Party in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS / Jeff McIntosh)

"It's another miracle on the Prairies," Kenney told 2,000 cheering party members at the BMO Centre on the Stampede Grounds in Calgary, minutes before cannons blasted out tufts of blue and white confetti and matching balloons tumbled from the ceiling.

"We are one step closer to a government based on common sense and the mainstream values of ordinary Albertans," he added.

"And now if we work hard, stay humble, and earn every vote we will ensure that this deceptive, divisive, debt-quadrupling, tax-hiking, job-killing, accidental socialist government is one and done!"

Kenney captured 35,623 votes, defeating rivals Brian Jean and Doug Schweitzer following three days of phone and computer voting.

Jean garnered 18,336 votes, good for 31.5 per cent. Schweitzer finished third with 4,273 votes, or 7.3 per cent.

Jean, the leader of the former Wildrose party, declined to speak with reporters afterward.

"It would be dishonest to say we're not a bit disappointed, but it's clearly an overwhelming mandate for Mr. Kenney and we congratulate him on that," Jean's spokesman, Matt Solberg, said.

"I think that overall the province will be served well by this party and by Mr. Kenney."

Jean is the only one of the three with a seat in the legislature.

Schweitzer, a Calgary-based conservative strategist, said he is looking forward to working with Kenney and is looking at running for a seat in the next general election.

During the campaign Schweitzer pushed Kenney and the party to embrace a more progressive stance on social issues, particularly on sexual minorities. He has said it's the right thing to do, and that it's critical to capture younger voters and remove an effective wedge issue for the NDP.

Kenney, on stage, said Schweitzer's values reflects the values of a "big tent, diverse" UCP.

"I take Jason at his word (on that)," Schweitzer later told reporters.

"I look forward to the policy convention going forward and continuing to bring new people into the party."

Kenney must now wait for a spot to open up in a byelection or in the next general election.

The 49-year-old has spent the last two decades in politics. In Ottawa he worked under Harper as the minister for immigration, employment, and defence.

He left federal politics last year, announcing in July 2016 that Alberta's Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose party must unite to end vote-splitting and form an effective conservative challenge to Notley's NDP.

The Wildrose took root more than a decade ago from conservatives disaffected with what the they viewed as top-down leadership by the governing PCs, along with a failure to protect private property rights and to keep spending in check.

The parties have been fighting for the soul of grassroots conservatives ever since, with both sides occasionally losing floor crossers to the other.

In March, Kenney ran and won the race for leadership of the Progressive Conservatives on a platform to pitch a unity plan to the Wildrose.

Jean, as head of the Wildrose, signed on to talks to join forces and the two sides merged in July when members from both sides voted overwhelmingly to link up under a new name and organization.

Next up is a founding convention to establish governing policies and principles. Constituency associations have already been working on amalgamation and the plan is to have a full slate of candidates ready for the next election, set by legislation to occur in the spring of 2019.

The leadership campaign was marked by some friction.

Jean and Schweitzer outlined detailed plans to reduce Alberta's debtload while keeping the rebounding economy from stalling. Kenney avoided specifics on economics. He said he supports a free-enterprise compass heading but would let rank-and-file members set policy at the founding convention.

On social issues, Kenney was criticized for suggesting he would allow parents to be told if their child joined a gay-straight alliance at school. Critics said that could out a child before he or she is ready and put them at risk of harm.

Kenney criticized Jean for poor management of caucus funding, which forced UCP staffers to be laid off. Jean dismissed that complaint and said Kenney supporters were spreading misinformation on his policy positions.

Shortly after online voting started Thursday, the Jean and Schweitzer camps voiced concerns over the electronic voting security.

The leadership election committee reviewed the process Friday and said no security breaches were found.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 2:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's an ambitious endeavour to unite two warring parties like this. Credit has to go to the losers, as well, who seem to recognize that supporting their party is better than letting the other guys get in.

Kenny deserves tremendous respect for this achievement.

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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

( he is wasting no time trying to get a seat in the legislature , he shouldn't have any trouble winning a Calgary riding , the only question is when Notley calls the by election )

Jason Kenney to seek seat in Calgary as long-time MLA steps aside

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press
Published Sunday, October 29, 2017 5:51PM EDT

CALGARY -- Alberta's newly anointed conservative leader is wasting little time in pursuing his desire to go head-to-head with NDP Premier Rachel Notley.

Less than 24 hours after winning 61 per cent of the vote in the fledgling United Conservative Party leadership - former federal cabinet minister Jason Kenney already has a Calgary riding in which he can try to get a seat in the legislature.

Dave Rodney, the longtime member for Calgary Lougheed, announced he would be stepping down this week to make room for the Kenney. Rodney was the last member who served in former Premier Ralph Klein's government.

United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney
United Conservative Party leader Jason Kenney speaks to reporters the day after being elected the first official leader of the new party as MLA Dave Rodney looks on in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

Kenney told a news conference on Sunday that it's his responsibility to try to contest a byelection.

"There is a constitutional responsibility for the opposition to be prepared to be an alternative government and the leader needs to be there," Kenney said at a Sunday afternoon news conference.

"I look forward to my first conversation with Premier Notley. I'm confident she will respect the long standing Westminster Parliamentary Convention of calling a byelection without delay when there is a party leader seeking entry to the legislature."

Kenney said he doesn't intend to micromanage the UCP agenda during the legislative session that begins this week.

But he also doesn't intend to waste an opportunity to get fully involved in the political process. Kenney said if a seat hadn't become available he would have been content doing the "heavy lifting" required to grow the party and recruit what he calls an "A team" of strong, diverse candidates.

Kenney said the UCP's founding convention is scheduled for May 4, 5 and 6 of next year in Red Deer, Alta.

He isn't worried that the party will get caught off guard by an early election call by the NDP government.

"This NDP government knows that they are living on borrowed time. They're ideological true believers and they value every single day they have to try to change the province and try to recreate it in their political image," he said.

"I cannot see them voluntarily giving up a single day of power because of their ideological drive to remake Alberta in their own image."

Kenney isn't worried that a lack of a party platform will hurt the UCP in his byelection or with Albertans. He said he has already indicated he will kill the provincial carbon tax, reduce spending and restart the Alberta economy.

There will be no nomination meetings, other than his in Calgary Lougheed, before the founding convention next year.

Kenney said he has made it clear that the UCP will not fall into the trap of taking anything for granted despite polls showing the party with a massive advantage over the NDP. He said it will also remain humble after the former PC government that was defeated by the NDP in 2015 was accused of being arrogant.

"If we work hard, stay humble and earn every vote we will ensure this NDP government is one and done. There is no guaranteed election outcome," Kenney said.

"I'm confident but we're not going to take anything for granted."

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Alberta United Conservative Party to select leader

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