MEDICINE HAT, ALBERTA, CANADA — Seven candidates vying to become the next United Conservative Party leader and Alberta premier are to tackle health, the economy and other key issues in their first debate in Medicine Hat, Alta., on Wednesday.
Here is a look at the contenders:
Leela Aheer: UCP backbench legislature member for Chestermere-Strathmore. Was member of Kenney's original cabinet as minister for culture, multiculturalism and the status of women. She was removed from cabinet in 2021 after criticizing Kenney's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Promises to restore trust in the party and to work to help the underprivileged.
Brian Jean: UCP backbench member for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche. Former Wildrose Party leader and co-founder of the UCP when his party merged with Kenney's Progressive Conservatives in 2017. Lost to Kenney in first UCP leadership race. Promises changes to help Albertans fight inflation, including caps to avoid price gouging at gasoline pumps.
Todd Loewen: Backbench member for Central Peace-Notley constituency. Sits as an Independent after being voted out of the UCP caucus in 2021 for urging Kenney to resign. Promises to restore trust in the party and push for greater Alberta autonomy in dealings with Ottawa.
Rajan Sawhney: UCP legislature member representing Calgary-North East. Served as minister for community and social services, then in transportation. Promises to hold public inquiry into Alberta's COVID-19 response. Promising to re-index critical programs that aid low-income Albertans to help people deal with inflation.
Rebecca Schulz: UCP member for Calgary-Shaw. Was minister of children's services. Promises to fight for a better deal with the federal government and to improve the economy. Pledging to find efficiencies in the health bureaucracy and build incentives to recruit more family doctors.
Danielle Smith: Former Wildrose party leader who led floor-crossing to Progressive Conservatives in 2014. Has since worked in business and as a radio talk-show host. Promises to pass a law allowing Alberta to ignore federal laws and court decisions deemed counter to the province's interests.
Travis Toews: UCP member representing Grande-Prairie Wapiti. Had been finance minister since the start of the UCP government. Promises to fight for Alberta's interests within Confederation through measures such as an opt-in provincial pension plan, an Alberta police force, and pushing for changes to equalization.
Note: Sawhney, Schulz and Toews stepped down from cabinet to avoid potential conflict of interest during the leadership run.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 27, 2022.
Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press