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Danielle Smith is new UCP leader — and Alberta’s next premier


Danielle Smith will become Alberta’s next prime minister after winning the race for the leadership of the United Conservative Party on Thursday night.

Blacksmith, who passed this floor in 2014 from Wildrose to Jim Prentice’s Conservatives – which ultimately lost to the NDP of Alberta – won 53.8% of the vote in the sixth and final vote at the BMO Center in Calgary.

Smith will become Alberta’s 19th prime minister, succeeding Jason Kenney in a role he held for three years.

Travis Toews, finance minister for most of the UCP’s three years in power, came in second with 46.2% of the vote.

The party said 82,000 mail-in and in-person ballots were cast. About 124,000 members were eligible to vote.

In a speech to hundreds of members, Smith said her victory marks the beginning of a new chapter in “Alberta’s great story.”

“It’s time for Alberta to be a senior partner in building a strong and united Canada,” she said to resounding cheers.

“Soon, Alberta will ask Ottawa’s permission to be prosperous and free. We will not be silenced or censored. We will not be told anything. we have to put in our body so we can work or travel. ”

“We will not allow our resources to be banned or our energy to be phased out by virtuous prime ministers. Albertans, not Ottawa, will chart our own destiny according to our own destiny. our conditions, and will work with our Canadians to build the freest and most prosperous country on earth.”

After thanking his rivals in the leadership contest, Smith said it was important for UCP members to stay united regardless of who they supported in the race to prevent the opposing NDP from taking power in the contest. next general election.

“Now is not the time to deal with old scores or competition,” she said. “This is not the time to punish our fellow conservatives for past mistakes. That’s why as prime minister and leader of this party I am wiping out the method. convenient”.

At the heart of Smith’s campaign is the proposed Alberta Sovereignty Act, which she hopes to introduce when the legislature is up and running this fall.

The bill would outline how and when the Alberta legislature would override federal law that the MLA decides is not in the best interest of the province. Legal experts say the bill would not survive a constitutional challenge but Smith, in his speech, warned members of resistance.

She said “many people in the Notley-Singh-Trudeau union” would use the act of sovereignty to claim Alberta wants to secede from Canada, which she says is not true.

Smith said Ottawa wanted to control everything to impose its agenda on Alberts and Canadians.

“This is not the way to unify a country or ensure prosperity,” she said. “This is a path to economic division and destruction.”

“Tonight, I invite every Canadian to work with us. Partner with Alberta.”

Smith was able to best the Toews and five other contenders in the contest: MLA and former culture minister Leela Aheer; former Wildrose Party and MLA leader Brian Jean; Independent MLA and former UCP caucus president Todd Loewen; MLA and former transport and social services minister Rajan Sawhney; MLA and former child services minister Rebecca Schulz.

Unity is the message

Voting is done using a preference ballot, in which members are asked to rank candidates in order of preference. If no one can get a 50% plus one majority, the candidate with the lowest total is eliminated from the next round of voting and their second preference vote is transferred.

Jean was eliminated after placing last on the fifth ballot. He told reporters he plans to continue as an MLA during the UCP caucus.

He said the leadership vote appeared to have proceeded without any issues affecting the 2017 vote for which Jean was also a candidate.

“Everybody said and they talked tonight,” Jean said. “And I’m pleased with the way they say it, because that’s all it is.”

Jean said Smith did a better job capitalizing on UCP members’ frustration with Ottawa through the Alberta Sovereignty Act she proposed.

“A lot of people were angry,” he said. “Everybody wants to show anger tonight.”

Schulz was eliminated after placing last on the fourth ballot. She said she is a team player and wants to work to ensure an NDP government is not elected in 2023.

Like Jean, Schulz suggested that UCP members reacted to Smith’s suggested tactics to deal with Ottawa.

“Albertans were very disappointed, they wanted to see a strong stand, something different when it came to standing up against the federal government,” she said.

Smith’s first business order was a meeting with members of the UCP caucus on Friday morning. She also invited Todd Loewen to the meeting so he could rejoin the caucus.

Loewen was kicked out of the UCP caucus in the spring of 2021 after publicly criticizing Kenney’s leadership. He has sat independently in the legislature ever since.

Smith has indicated that she wants an interview as soon as possible so she can appear in the legislature this fall. She said some UCP MLAs have offered to give up their seats. Smith did not want to run for the Calgary-Elbow, which was vacated after UCP MLA’s Doug Schweitzer resigned at the end of August.

VIEW | University of Calgary political science professor Lisa Young discusses Danielle Smith

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The UCP called the leadership race in May after a leadership review in the spring showed Kenney receiving support from 51.4% of its members. Kenney said there was not enough support for him to continue as the group’s leader and pledged to step down when the members chose a new group.

Leaked internal polls from several camps show anti-establishment candidate Smith in the lead, with Toews affiliated with Kenney in second place.

The UCP was born in 2017 with the merger of the Radical Conservatives and the Wildrose party into a new, high-potential coalition.

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