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Lukaszuk joins PC leadership race

Thomas Lukaszuk, a St. Albert resident, resigns from cabinet

By: Victoria Paterson

  |  Posted: Friday, May 23, 2014 02:00 pm

Thomas Lukaszuk
Thomas Lukaszuk
FILE PHOTO/St. Albert Gazette

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Thomas Lukaszuk, a St. Albert resident and MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs, has entered the Progressive Conservative leadership race.

Lukaszuk announced his intention to run on Thursday, joining Jim Prentice and Ric McIver. A large number of MLAs have already declared their support for Prentice, including Spruce-Grove St. Albert MLA and finance minister Doug Horner.

Lukaszuk is the former deputy premier and has held various cabinet portfolios, resigning from his most recent post as minister of jobs, skills, training and labour to run for leader.

In an interview with the Gazette on Friday, Lukaszuk said he had wanted to wait to see who the other candidates were and what their campaigns might look like before deciding.

“The reason I wanted to do that is I wanted to make sure I offer Albertans a real choice, that I am significantly different and have a different world view from existing candidates to offer Albertans a good race,” he said.

Having decided he does offer a different perspective, Lukaszuk said he’s seen PC leadership races up close where people support the front runners, but those front runners didn’t win.

“At the end of the day, democracy is a cumbersome thing but it really works,” he said, noting some have been pushing for a coronation.

“I know that Albertans want to participate in a process where they get to choose who their premier is going to be.”

Lukaszak’s campaign will be volunteer-based, with no “perennial consultants” on the payroll.

There has been too much focus on higher level economics, though Lukaszuk emphasized those are also important.

“Not many Albertans wake up first thing in the morning and think about access to world markets for agricultural products or petroleum products … but they do worry about not having a daycare for their child … or working for months for an appropriate placement for their senior parents in a senior care facility, or not having a school in the neighbourhood that they moved into,” he said. Lukaszuk thinks the government can look after both what he calls “lofty goals” but also the day-to-day quality of life items.

As for his close ties to the Redford government, Lukaszuk said he was one of the first to criticize the former premier.

“I don’t think it’s lost on Albertans that I’ve been very active in opposing some of the events of the last two years and it’s not a coincidence that I’ve been moved from the fourth floor of the legislature from the deputy premier’s office literally into the basement of the legislature,” he said.

The trust of Albertans will have to be re-earned by the party, he said.


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