On September 6, 2014 Alberta Progressive Conservative (PC) members will be voting to elect their new leader, and the province’s newest premier. Given the importance of this election, the Wanderer has provided a quick run down of your PC leadership candidates, an overview of the structure of the PC leadership election, and insight into the implications this election could have for the party as a whole.
The Facts: It is no secret that Jim Prentice is perceived as the clear front runner in this election. Mr. Prentice has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta and a Bachelor of Laws from Dalhousie University. Although not a member of the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Prentice can cite a long political career in federal politics. During his time with the feds, Mr. Prentice held a number of cabinet positions including: Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ministry of Industry, Minister of Environment. After leaving federal politics in 2010, Mr. Prentice took a job with CIBC as Senior Executive Vice-President and Vice-Chairman. With a substantive resume in both federal politics and economics, Mr. Prentice is seeking the leadership of the PC government, adjusting his political arena to provincial politics.
Priorities: Mr. Prentice’s campaign is based on his “5 priorities for Alberta”. These include a focused commitment to sound, conservative fiscal principles; to ending entitlements and to restoring public trust; to maximizing the value of Alberta’s natural resources and increasing respect for property rights; to promoting Alberta as a leader in health care, education and skills training; and to establishing our province as an environmental leader.
In the headlines: Recently, Mr. Prentice has been found to be using his campaign donations to pay for $10.00 PC membership cards. Although Mr. Prentice has cleared this action with the PC party prior to covering the costs of these memberships, his counterparts are accusing Mr. Prentice in buying votes to support his leadership. Mr. Prentice however, counters with the belief that offering to pay for some of the memberships creates a more democratic voting environment. Also, he has received public backlash based on his proposed term-limits for the Premier and MLAs within Alberta. The proposed term-limits would impose a two-term limit for premiers and a three-term limit for MLAs. Currently, Alberta’s MLAs and Premier are not subject to any time restrictions to serve in their roles. Mr. Prentice believes that these term limits would promote accountability and ensure ethics within the Legislature. However, a number of studies indicates that mandatory limits create inefficient leaders. As a result of negative public reception of these proposed term-limits, Mr. Prentice has conveyed that he will consult with PC members and Albertans before acting on this proposal.
The Facts: Thomas Lukaszuk immigrated to Canada from Poland in 1982. Mr. Lukaszuk received a Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Alberta, and became a social studies teacher with the Edmonton Catholic School District. While teaching, Mr. Lukaszuk began Injured Workers Advocates Inc. (IWA), a small business assisting injured workers with work-related insurance claims. In 2001 Mr. Lukaszuk officially began his career in provincial politics, becoming the MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs. Mr. Lukaszuk was re-elected in this electoral district in both 2004 and 2008. As an MLA, Mr. Lukaszuk has served on 21 legislative committees, chairing 6 of them. Within the PC government, Mr. Lukaszuk has served a number of ministerial roles: Minister of Employment and Immigation, Minister of Education, Minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education, and Deputy Premier. Mr. Lukaszuk has had close to 15 years of experience within the provincial politics of Alberta, and is now vying for leadership of the PC government.
Priorities: Mr. Lukaszuk’s campaign also relies on 5 policy priorities. These priorities include bringing in new ideas to government; increasing access to basic services, programs and infrastructure within Alberta; planning for our economic future; creating an open, trustworthy government; and staying true to the fiscally conservative principles which make Alberta strong.
In the headlines: Recently, internal governmental records containing a $20,000.00 government phone bill were leaked to an Edmonton Sun reporter. Mr. Lukaszuk incurred the $20,000.00 government phone bill while on a personal vacation to Poland and Israel in October 2012. He has explained that the phone calls were necessary as he was in assisting with legal issues related to a dispute between a cabinet minister and a sibling. Due to the publication ban the identity of the minister and the nature of the dispute cannot be disclosed to the public. The Wildrose party is demanding that the PC party reimburse the government monies spent on that phone bill.
The Facts: Ric McIver was elected as MLA for Calgary-Hays district in 2012. As MLA, Mr. McIver has served as Minister of Infrastructure, Minister of Transportation, a member of the Treasury Board, and the Southern Alberta Ministerial Flood Recovery Task Force. External to his role as an MLA, Mr. McIver has served as a City of Calgary representative on the Calgary Police Commission, and has also served with the Metropolitan Calgary Foundation as chair of the Calgary Housing Company. Prior to his career in provincial politics Mr. McIver worked in the food industry as a national sales manager, marketing manager and owner/operator of a food distribution and marketing wholesale business.
Priorities: Mr. McIver has outlined a number of different priorities of his campaign. His goals are to promote government accountability; focus on Alberta’s fiscal issues; develop rural regions; adjust our justice system by instigating a volunteer inmate work program and GPS monitoring of high risk offenders; and to rebuild relationships with the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta.
In the headlines: Although Mr. McIver has avoided recent headlines, in June he marched in a parade organized by a vocally anti-gay Christian organization in Calgary, receiving widespread media attention. This ultra-right-wing organization has extreme viewpoints, one of which includes blaming Calgary’s 2013 flood on God’s anger with homosexuality. Mr. McIver has apologized for marching in the parade and has publicly denied having knowledge of the viewpoints held by the event’s organizer.
A key feature of this election is that it is being held to determine the leader of the PC party, and does not involve any other political parties. The method of how a party determines its leadership is internal to the party. Currently, PC leadership is determined by a leadership election, which will be held on September 6, 2014. Only Albertans who are card-carrying members of the PC party are eligible to vote in this election. In order for a candidate to win leadership, the candidate must receive a majority of the vote (over 50% of the total votes). If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the candidate that receives the least number of votes will be eliminated from the ballot and another election will then be held with the remaining two candidates. While this election format has been held used a number of times by the PC party, in this election, a new ‘e-voting’ system is being implemented. Now, multiple votes are allowed from the same phone line, and these votes will not be capped. If multiple votes do occur from the same line, the phone number will be flagged and then questions will be asked based on the number of calls made from that line. There is no explanation of how the system will monitor the number of calls per phone line, or how will the party determine whether people are voting on an individual basis within their household.
In the wake of Alison Redford’s political scandals, now is an essential time for the PC government to mend its image and reassert itself as the governing party of Alberta, potentially making this election one of the most important in the party’s history. However, as is inherent with any leadership race, this race has raised not only questions of the candidates’ ability to lead, but also of whether the PC government and its elected officials are deserving of Alberta’s continued support. The next provincial election is scheduled for 2016, however it has been suggested that Albertans can expect an election as soon as this coming year. Therefore, it is essential, and no secret, that the PC party must quickly re-establish itself as a capable, ethical and cohesive governing party if it hopes to continue its reign.
Image courtesy of Marcel Schoenhardt on Flickr