Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer announced in an email to his supporters today that he will not seek the leadership of Alberta’s Progressive Conservative Party. Mr. Schweitzer is the former CEO of the Manitoba PC Party and was involved in Jim Prentice‘s campaign for the Alberta PC Party leadership in 2014. He was widely seen as a potential flag bearer for centrist conservatives in the party and rumours of his candidacy had generated excitement among some party activists.
Here’s the text of the email, in which he also takes a swing at the PC Party and its leadership selection process:
This is a note that will disappoint some of my friends and supporters. I have made the decision not to pursue the Leadership of PC Alberta at this time.
My desire to be part of a significant political change in Alberta started a year ago in a coffee shop in Calgary – I just didn’t know it at the time.
At first, I was just meeting with friends to talk about how we could improve our province. Then I travelled across Alberta and met with people and listened to their concerns. People were frustrated and worried. Some had lost their jobs, others their homes and some had even lost hope. What was also very clear from these conversations was a deep sense of pride in the resilience of Albertans. Even in frustration, there was still a strong belief that Alberta could get back on its feet.
I gathered a group to talk about the future of Alberta. It led to some exciting meetings where we brought together hundreds of people to talk constructively about what our future could be. It was in these conversations that I was encouraged by many to seek the leadership of PC Alberta. I was humbled and flattered.
In exploring whether to run, the question that comes up across Alberta is, “How do we defeat the NDP?” The easy answer is to fuel anger and fear by spreading half-truths and representing them as facts for partisan benefit.
Our generation is tired of excessive partisanship. We want leaders that unite and empower us. We need to create the most competitive business environment in North America without sacrificing the environment. We want equality of opportunity, fairness and inclusion.
We need an Alberta for tomorrow, today.
The big question is can we do this through PC Alberta? I believe the Party needs to re-establish trust with voters, bring forward new ideas, a new plan and a new team. I was hopeful this could happen now.
In exploring this campaign, we have hosted hundreds of meetings across Alberta, attracted a talented team, and developed campaign infrastructure that is unrivalled. We are ready to launch what we believe is a winning campaign.
However, I am concerned about the Party’s commitment to a fair leadership process. In particular, the rules that have been established have raised some serious concerns that go to the legitimacy of the process.
This process has made me realize that if we stay focused on the past and established parties, we will lose the real opportunity that lies before us. That is the chance to define what it means to be a conservative for the next generation. We need a “New Blue”.
My team and I believe this opportunity cannot be realized while defending the status quo – we have to reach higher.
What I am interested in is participating in a larger debate that includes all Albertans who are seeking a strong alternative to the NDP. This is the inclusive debate Albertans deserve and one I will work to make happen.
To the volunteers that have been working with us, I’ll do my best to reach out to each of you over the coming weeks. It took me months to meet all of you, so please be patient. I truly appreciate everything you’ve done. I hope many of you choose to join us as we discuss next steps.
The PC Party will select a new leader in March 2017. Federal politician Jason Kenney and former MLA Donna Kennedy-Glans have officially announced their plans to run. Political strategist Stephen Carter announced this week that he will be supporting Calgary-North West MLA Sandra Jansen‘s bid for the leadership, which has yet to be officially announced.