UCP to select leader this weekend

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Voting is underway to select the leader of the provincial conservative party.

The United Conservative Party (UCP) will be choosing between former Wildrose leader Brian Jean, former Progressive Conservative leader Jason Kenney and Calgary lawyer Doug Schweitzer.

The Progressive Conservatives elected Jason Kenney as their leader in March with 75.5 per cent of the vote when he ran on the platform to merge the party with the other provincial right wing party, the Wildrose. PCs and Wildrose members then voted to merge their parties in July with a 95 per cent mandate from each side.

UCP St. Albert Constituency president Jeff Wedman said that he will happy to see the leader chosen so they can start to focus on getting ready for the next election.

“From the PC side of the house it has been a bit of an ongoing process leading up to this for a year and a half now. It’s excitement and relief. Once we have this settled one way or the other we can get ready for the next election,” Wedman said.

Wedman said that joining the two constituency associations has been relatively easy because there is such a small difference between the members of the local parties.

“We are pretty much all fiscal conservatives here and don’t have much of a social conservative population,” Wedman said.

The St. Albert Wildrose and Progressive Conservative constituency associations joined forces in September under the UCP banner and selected former St. Albert PC constituency association president Wedman as the president along with 15 members from each party to form a 30 person board.

The voting kicked off on Thursday and but by that evening Schweitzer and Jean’s campaigns asked the party to suspend voting overnight due to their concerns with the process. The two camps said that security around the use of personal identification numbers (PINs) was not strong enough.

The party of 62,000 people decided to continue on with the vote. By Friday morning around 65 per cent of voters had cast their ballot for their preferred leader.

Results of the vote will be announced tonight.

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.