PC Party in transition as Alison Redford steps down
By: MIKE PICKFORD
| Posted: Thursday, Mar 27, 2014 11:03 am
Last week’s news surrounding Premier Alison Redford’s resignation from provincial office sent shockwaves throughout Alberta and the country.
The leader of the Wildrose party Danielle Smith said Redford was elected to lead the PC Party as an outsider, who was hailed as a new kind of leader who could fix what was wrong with the party and the government, a leader who could put the party’s problems behind her and fundamentally change what it meant to be a Progressive Conservative.
“I have no doubt that she intended to be that leader. And I have no doubt that Albertans had high hopes that she would be,” said Smith.
“But what we’ve witnessed during her short 29 months as premier is the clearest indication yet that the PC Party cannot be fixed. The problems with this party and with this government run far too deep for one leader to change – no matter how noble their intentions are or how deeply they’re committed to them.”
Airdrie MLA Rob Anderson was out of town and not available for comment before press time.
Redford officially walked away from the provincial podium on March 23, with Deputy Premier and Minister of Innovation and Advanced Education Dave Hancock sworn in as acting premier later that evening.
In his first address since assuming office, Hancock admitted that mistakes had been made in recent times, but he was confident that the government would now be able to move forward on a positive note.
“We will make mistakes, but we will learn from those mistakes. They will help us to grow and to do better,” Hancock said. “I am grateful every day for the love and support of my family, and the confidence they give me. I am honoured by the confidence my colleagues have placed in me and I am humbled by the sense of responsibility and the opportunity to serve.”
Hancock is expected to lead the province for the next “four to six months” – the time it will take the PC Party to formally elect a new leader.
PC Alberta President Jim McCormick spoke briefly with media following Redford’s announcement, stating simply that Albertans could depend on a committed PC Party moving ahead.
“Like most fellow Albertans, we are very closely watching the situation with our government and MLAs, who are proud members of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta,” McCormick said. “As everyone can appreciate, it is a very fluid time, but one thing I can say with certainty is that we remain committed to the long-term success of the PC Party in this province and we are confident the party will continue to represent Albertans far into the future.”
The news that Redford was planning to step down came almost a week after former PC party member and MLA for Calgary Varsity Donna Kennedy-Glans revoked her status as a conservative caucus member, opting to sit as an independent following a lack of confidence in this government’s ability to “make the changes needed to achieve the dream of a better Alberta.”
That move came on the back of a similar act from MLA for Calgary-Foothills Len Webber, who walked away from the PC caucus in early March stating he could no longer work for an individual who “treats people poorly and treats taxpayer dollars poorly.”
Smith spoke positively of Redford as the now-former premier walked away from her leadership role.
“For the second time in three years, the Premier of Alberta has resigned, and for the third time in eight years, the PC Party will be looking for a new leader,” Smith said.
“The business of governing this province and leading it through its challenges will now once again take a backseat to the internal politics of the PC party – as they will again change their leader to try and solve a problem that can’t be solved, said Smith.
“There will be plenty of time in the days and weeks ahead to talk about that. But I’d like to close on a personal note. Let’s never doubt the commitment of any leader who puts their province ahead of themselves and their families to serve. Premier Redford gave everything she had to the job she was elected to do and for that she should be proud. For that, we should be thankful.”
While no one has officially thrown their hat into the race for PC party leader, Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes expressed an interest, while Minister of Jobs, Skills, Trade and Labour and former Deputy Premier Thomas Lukaszuk has also indicated he is interested in making a run for leadership.
In line with Hancock’s comments, Leskiw said the PC Party would look to move forward and stamp a positive impression on Albertans following months of negative publicity.
“I think this leaves the PC Party where we are – we are a strong party with a lot of talented people that are ready to step up and willing to do what they were elected for, which is help lead and run this great province” Leskiw said. “We’re fine, we’re strong and we’re resilient. Our priorities are and remain, providing a good life to the people of this province.”
She added, “(Hopefully) now the opposition will start worrying about policies and what’s good for the province instead of trying to make us look bad for the simple reason of making themselves look good.”
With files from Stacie Snow