Key message of unity as former Alberta finance minister launches UCP leadership campaign

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Alberta’s former finance minister officially kicked off his campaign on Saturday to succeed Premier Jason Kenney as leader of the United Conservative Party, stressing the need for unity and warning of the dangers of division.

Travis Toews, who resigned from the cabinet on Tuesday to run for his party’s top job, told an audience of supporters he was appealing to those who felt “misranked” and “ignored”.

Kenney has announced he will step down as UCP leader as soon as a new one is chosen after receiving lukewarm 51.4 per cent support in a leadership review last month.

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Travis Toews steps down as finance minister and tosses his hat in the UCP leadership race

He blamed his disappearance on a faction of extremists unhappy with his decisions to impose restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Toews noted that the pandemic has caused lingering feelings of grief and frustration, which he says have crept into communities, businesses and even families, and that healing is needed within the province’s conservative movement. .

The party is working on the logistics of a vote and has not announced any dates or other details.

“There has not been a time in this generation when healing and reunification has been so necessary, not only in our society, but also within the conservative movement in Alberta,” Toews said in front of a fireplace in stone at Rotary House during the Calgary Stampede. lands.

“Friends, our great conservative movement must once again focus on the values ​​that unite us rather than the issues that divide.”

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He noted that since taking office in 2019, the UCP has put Alberta on a path of sustainable economic growth and released the first balanced budget in a decade.

Toews, 57, is serving a first term in the Legislative Assembly for the constituency of Grande Prairie-Wapiti and has served as finance minister since the Kenney government began in April 2019.

He is a Chartered Professional Accountant and Certified Management Accountant, past President of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association and owner of a family cattle operation.

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Energy Minister Sonya Savage, who introduced Toews at the campaign launch, echoed the call for the party’s next leader to unite to win re-election in the upcoming election General of May 29, 2023.

“It’s extremely important on this day that this party has a leader who brings us together, someone Albertans can trust to lead a team that will ensure Alberta is strong, prosperous and free,” Savage said. , campaign co-chair. and Chris Warkentin, a Conservative MP representing Grande Prairie-Mackenzie.

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Jason Kenney will remain in charge of the UCP until his successor is chosen

Kenney said that would not endorse a candidate for his replacement, but praised Toews on his regular Saturday morning phone show on CHED and CHQR.

“I mean he was a great finance minister. I look forward to presenting a year-end report for fiscal year 21-22 towards the end of June, and that should be very good news as long as the economy continues to perform well,” Kenney said.

Former Wildrose party leaders Brian Jean and Danielle Smith are also seeking the job, along with Todd Loewen, a UCP backbench MP who has sat as an independent since 2021, when he was kicked out of caucus for posting a letter urging Kenney to resign.

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© 2022 The Canadian Press

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