EDMONTON—Those who have declared their intention to replace Jason Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party — and prime minister — are due to take part in a Thursday night panel hosted by a group pushing for Alberta to become “a sovereign jurisdiction within from Canada”.
It is the first time that the official candidates – all vying to become party leader on October 6 – will debate together the future of a province that has been plagued by political turmoil for more than a year, upheavals that have led Kenney to announce that he would resign.
Three candidates recently left their posts as ministers to run: Travis Toews, Rebecca Schulz and Rajan Sawhney. Two former Wildrose party leaders, Danielle Smith and Brian Jean, are also expected to attend, along with Independent MP Todd Loewen, who was kicked out of the UCP caucus after criticizing Kenney, and Leela Aheer, who was a cabinet minister before to be demoted to UCP. backbench after doing the same.
“We are at a critical time in Alberta politics and it is vitally important that Alberta’s next premier be prepared to fight for Alberta’s interests and stand up to Ottawa,” the minister said. notice of the event on the Free Alberta Strategy website.
The virtual roundtable, moderated by former Alberta MPP Rob Anderson, will last two hours starting at 7 p.m. local time.
Launched by the Alberta Institute, a think tank, the Free Alberta Strategy proclaims policy ideas such as enacting legislation that would allow the province to refuse to enforce federal laws if they “unfairly attack the interests of Albertans “.
He also wants the province to set up a provincial police force, put an end to equalization payments and set up a provincial pension plan and Alberta unemployment insurance.
One candidate, Smith, has previously said she would introduce legislation that would somehow allow Alberta to ignore federal laws deemed “an attack on Alberta’s interests or our provincial rights”.
“I’m sure we all agree we need less Ottawa in our lives,” she said in a news release last week.
Smith also promised that if she were premier, Alberta would “never shut down again,” an apparent reference to the COVID-19 restrictions introduced by Kenney.
Kenney has faced significant criticism over his COVID response – both from those who believe his government has done too little and from those who believe the restrictions have gone too far.
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