| Posted: Friday, Oct 25, 2013 03:15 pm
The race to replace Brent Rathgeber as the Conservatives' candidate in the St. Albert-Edmonton riding in the next federal election has begun.
Michael Cooper, 29, announced his intention to seek the Tory nomination on Wednesday. Current MP Rathgeber left the government caucus earlier this year and is now sitting as an independent.
"When Brent Rathgeber made his decision to leave the Conservative caucus, a whole lot of individuals, leaders within our community, approached me and asked me to consider putting my name forward," Cooper said.
"After doing a lot of listening and thinking over the summer, and having regard for my experience as a lawyer, for my years of political and community involvement, my deep roots in our community, I came to the conclusion that I bring to the table the right experience, a thorough understanding of the issues and a good connection to the area to be a strong and effective voice for the people of St. Albert, Edmonton and Ottawa."
Cooper feels the riding would be best represented by a Tory MP.
"Brent is a good friend of mine. He's someone I worked very hard to get nominated and he's someone I have respect for. At the end of the day, it's my view the people of St. Albert-Edmonton can best be represented by having a Conservative member of the government caucus," Cooper said.
Cooper grew up and currently resides in St. Albert. He's a civil litigation lawyer at the national firm of Ogilvie LLP in Edmonton. He has served as the president of the local Conservative riding association and volunteered on election campaigns. He was Alberta's representative to the national council of the Canadian Alliance before it amalgamated with the Progressive Conservatives to become the Conservative Party of Canada. He attended the University of Alberta for both his bachelor of arts and law degree.
"I've been active for a long time," he said of his political involvement. He joined the provincial Progressive Conservative party when he was 14 and got involved with the Canadian Alliance in 2000, elected to that party's national council when he was still a teenager.
Cooper's announcement comes with a long list of endorsements, many from sitting MLAs, but also including an MP, a senator, a former director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation as well as former St. Albert mayor Richard Plain.
"I think it speaks to the level of commitment and involvement I've had over the past number of years that so many leaders, including many elected officials, are prepared to stand up and stand beside me as I move forward with my campaign," Cooper said.
The supplied biography says Cooper has been a life-long volunteer, noting he's a lector at St. Albert Parish, a district captain for the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation and is involved with the Knights of Columbus.
Cooper said his combination of community and political involvement, as well as his experience as a lawyer, make him "well-equipped to represent this riding."
This is a very "winnable" riding for the Tories, Cooper said, and as a result he expects others will also pursue the nomination.
"I'm certainly expecting competition, which is why I'm going to hit the ground running," he said, adding he and his team will be out door-knocking and selling memberships, as well as connecting with local Conservatives.
The timeline for when the nomination race will close hasn't been determined quite yet, Cooper said. Upcoming changes to Alberta's federal riding map mean the riding associations will have to have refounding meetings, Cooper said, and then move forward with the nomination process.