Danielle Smith Chosen as Alberta’s Next Premier After UCP Members Elect Her as Party Leader

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United Conservative Party (UCP) members have chosen Danielle Smith as their next leader, making her the next premier of Alberta.

The former leader of the Wildrose Party, who had stepped away from politics for several years, won the contest on the the sixth ballot against UCP MLA and former finance minister Travis Toews.

On the first ballot, Smith received 41.3 percent of the votes, ahead of the runner up Toews who received 29.4 percent, but short of the 50 percent plus one votes required to win on the first ballot.

UCP MLA and former Wildrose Party leader Brian Jean received 11 percent of the votes on the first ballot, followed by Independent MLA Todd Loewen with 7.7 percent, UCP MLA and former minister of children’s services Rebecca Schulz with 6.9 percent, UCP MLA and former minister of transportation Rajan Sawhney with 2.1 percent, and UCP MLA and former minister of culture, multiculturalism, and status of women Leela Aheer with 1.6 percent.

UCP president Cynthia Moore said around 85,000 party members voted in the contest.

The leadership contest was called after Premier Jason Kenney announced he is stepping down following a leadership review in May. Even though he received 51.4 percent of the votes, just enough for a majority, he said the support wasn’t strong enough for him to stay on as leader.

Smith, a former columnist with the Calgary Herald, was the leader of the Wildrose Party from 2009 to 2014, before crossing the floor to join the Progressive Conservatives in a bid to unite the two conservative parties. The decision proved unpopular, and she lost the PC nomination in the 2015 election.

Follower her departure from politics, Smith worked as a radio host and on other media projects for several years, before re-entering politics after Kenney’s decision to step down.

Throughout the leadership campaign, Smith attracted the most attention for her proposed sovereignty act.  According to a post on her website, the proposed legislation “would affirm the authority of the Provincial Legislature to refuse provincial enforcement of specific Federal laws or policies that violate the jurisdictional rights of Alberta under Sections 92–95 of the Constitution or that breaches the Charter Rights of Albertans.”

Smith has said the act would bring Alberta similar powers as those that Quebec enjoys, citing as an example how the Quebec National Assembly passed a motion to declare Ottawa’s invocation of the Emergencies Act in February inapplicable in Quebec.

More to come

Omid Ghoreishi

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Omid Ghoreishi is an Epoch Times reporter based in Toronto.



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