Danielle Smith shines in United Conservative Party leadership race

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Danielle Smith shines in United Conservative Party leadership race

Danielle Smith was previously leader of the Wildrose Party of Alberta from 2009 to 2014.

Two months after the launch of the United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership race, candidate Danielle Smith seems to have taken a step ahead of her competitors. Nine of them are in the running, but only three have paid the required application fees so far.

To get the green light from the CERB, applicants must pay $150,000 entry fee, plus a $25,000 good behavior bond.

Only ex-ministers Travis Toews and Rajan Sawhney, along with former Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith paid the first part, required by July 20.

Danielle Smith even put on a show of force by signing a check for $175,000 all at once.

Amisk Village Mayor Bill Rock announced last week that he was unable to raise the required sum and therefore withdrew from the race.

  • Leela Aheer, former Minister of Culture, Multiculturalism and Jason Kenney's Status of Women government;

  • Jon Horsman, former senior executive at ATB Financial;

  • Brian Jean, former leader of the Alberta Wildrose Party and MP for Fort McMurray-Lac La Biche;

  • Rebecca Schultz, Minister of Children's Services in Jason Kenney's government;

  • Danielle Smith, former leader of the Wildrose Party of Alberta;

  • Todd Loewen, MP for Central Peace-Notley, expelled from United Conservative Caucus;

  • Rajan Sawhney, transport minister in Jason Kenney's government;

  • Raj Sherman, former Progressive Conservative MP and Alberta Liberal leader;

  • Travis Toews, finance minister in Jason Kenney's government.

The nine candidates are, from left to right and top to bottom: Bill Rock (dropout), Danielle Smith, Brian Jean, Rebecca Schulz, Jon Horsman, Leela Aheer, Todd Loewen, Travis Toews, Rajan Sawhney and Raj Sherman.

These candidates are trying to succeed Jason Kenney, who announced his resignation as leader after narrowly winning his vote of confidence from party members this spring.

A first debate will take place on July 27 in Medicine Hat and another in Edmonton on August 30. The new leader will be chosen on October 6. This one will automatically become premier of Alberta.

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Ex-Wildrose Party leader Danielle Smith appears to have taken a considerable lead in recent weeks. She held a rally in Calgary on Thursday night, in front of several hundred supporters, along with former hockey player Theo Fleury, who has been involved in conspiracy theories during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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She presented her political vision, the cornerstone of which is her Alberta Sovereignty Act. According to her, this law would allow her to ignore federal laws that would violate Alberta's rights. In the opinion of the majority of experts, attempting to apply such a law would cause a constitutional crisis.

Danielle Smith has also stirred up the anger of her supporters on various controversial issues, such as the vaccination status. She also referenced several conspiracy theories, including that the elite of the World Economic Forum is trying to confiscate private property and end individual freedoms.

“Who will be the best person to stand up to Ottawa? Who will be the best to beat Rachel Notley? Who will be the best to restore our freedoms? I think that person is me.

— Danielle Smith, United Conservative Party leadership candidate

Political science professor at the University of Alberta's Campus Saint-Jean Frédéric Boily believes that Danielle Smith is taking the more radical ideological route in order to distinguish herself from her main opponent, Brian Jean. The latter has also made Alberta's autonomy from Ottawa its central theme.

We are currently witnessing an ideological and populist one-upmanship, believes Frédéric Boily.

[Danielle Smith's Alberta Sovereignty Bill] doesn't hold water constitutionally, but it sends a very strong message to Conservative supporters that we need to resume a much more combative than Jason Kenney. He was seen as too soft against Ottawa, he explains.

“In this race, you have to position yourself as the candidate for renewal. We cannot be the candidate of continuity. There is a breaking effect. »

— Frédéric Boily, professor of political science at the Saint-Jean Campus of the University of Alberta

Frédéric Boily believes that this could harm the candidate favored by the deputies, Travis Toews, who fits too much into the continuity of his leader. This one obtained the support of nearly half of the united conservative caucus.

The other candidates have not stood out so far, according to Frédéric Boily. Rebecca Schultz, Leela Aheer and Rajan Sawhney, in particular, have very similar proposals and profiles, making their candidacies hard to tell apart.

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