The All-Calgarian PC Party leadership race

Ric McIver Alberta PC Leadership Race
Ric McIver

Another Calgarian has entered what has been, at least so far, an all-Calgarian Progressive Conservative leadership race.

Announcing his candidacy in the contest to become the next PC Party leader and premier, former Infrastructure minister Ric McIver declared he would bring a “common-sense new approach to replace insider, establishment thinking, with new common-sense thinking.”

The first-term MLA and former three-term Calgary Alderman brandishes a rhetorical brand of meat and potatoes conservative populism not seen in a PC Party leadership race for some time. Mr. McIver’s style may be reminiscent of former Premier Ralph Klein, but can the dated “common-sense conservative” message resonate with PC Party members in 2014?

Ken Boessenkool
Ken Boessenkool

Despite serving as a senior cabinet minister in Premier Alison Redford’s government for two years, he appears to be running against the controversial record of the previous premier. This is probably not a bad strategy for a party with a track record of denying victories to candidates seen as too close to the “party establishment.”

Mr. McIver has tapped Conservative strategist Ken Boessenkool as his campaign manager. Mr. Boessenkool is the former chief of staff to British Columbia Liberal Premier Christy Clark and briefly served as the spokesperson for the “Alberta Blue Committee.”

Jim Prentice Alberta PC Leadership
Jim Prentice

Unanswered questions remain about Mr. McIver’s role in the Skypalace – a penthouse suite that was secretly being constructed for Ms. Redford in the Federal Building. Mr. McIver claims he cancelled the construction project, but the same claim was made by his predecessor, Wayne Drysdale.

Meanwhile, front-runner Jim Prentice has yet to officially announce he will be entering the race and is already gaining support among PC MLAs. Mr. Prentice has the endorsements of Human Services minister Manmeet Bhullar, Education minister Jeff Johnson, Flood Recovery minister Kyle Fawcett, Municipal Affairs minister Greg Weadick and backbench MLA Neil Brown. It is rumoured that he could soon receive the endorsement of Finance minister Doug Horner, who will make clear his own political intentions on Friday.

Former Municipal Affairs minister Ken Hughes was the first Calgarian to enter the race. Non-Calgarians, including Labour minister Thomas Luksazuk (from Edmonton) and Energy minister Diana McQueen (from Drayton Valley) are also rumoured to considering their entry into the contest.

While rivalries between regions in Alberta are less relevant than they were twenty or thirty years ago, a leadership race gives a political party an opportunity to demonstrate its strength and support across the entire province. After losing ground in its traditional rural strongholds in the last election, a lack of regional diversity among the candidates would present a challenge to a PC Party struggling with internal strife and Alberta’s growing population.

8 thoughts on “The All-Calgarian PC Party leadership race”

  1. Ric McIver stood loyally at Miss Redford’s side until the very end. He is no outsider. He is part of the establishment of entitlement that has become the PC Party. Don’t let him fool you. He’s no populist.

  2. Any sitting PC MLA who didn’t say anything while the controversies were developing is damaged goods in terms of a potential leadership candidate. What McIver is saying now is not as important as what he was or was not saying before. Same for Hughes.
    As for being old, White or Calgarian, that’s irrelevant.

  3. McIver also voted for censorship in the human rights act, after saying he’d vote against it.

  4. Peter Runge, or anyone, can you provide a reference for McIver formerly stating he would vote against the motion to repeal the hate crimes part of the AHRA?

  5. Mr McIver has also resurrected the Klein-era phrase “severely normal Albertans”, which the late Mr Klein used to counter critics with advanced education or other specialized knowledge on a topic of public policy. He would represent the anti-intellectual wing of the PC party.

  6. I agree with Tom Robert; they must be promising McIver something big after he loses in order to get him to run a losing race.

    The PCs need the illusion of an actual contest not the “Coronation” Dave mentioned a while back. Getting an establishment candidate in the race for Prentice to demolish helps with that, it also helps him keep some distance from the establishment.

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