Insights and Analysis

Alberta Political Roundup

Off to the Races

The race for the UCP leadership will officially kick off soon. On Friday, May 27th, the UCP party board appointed a Leadership Election Committee that will be responsible for setting the rules and procedures for the race, such as timelines, entrance requirements and the voting method. The Committee is expected to follow existing rules, including the requirement for a preferential ballot.

The committee is led by David Price, an employment lawyer with Stikeman Elliott LLP and long-time party activist who served as Co-Chair of the Policy and Governance plenaries at the past two party AGMs. The other members of the committee include: riding association presidents Casey Deschamp, Larry Spagnolo, Tim Heger and Ron Young, former MPs Devinder Shory and Rick Casson, the former mayor of Whitecourt Maryann Chichak, and former UCP party president Ryan Becker.

Shuffling the Deck

With the UCP leadership race set to begin, one cabinet minister has already stepped down from their role to compete to become leader, Travis Toews.
In addition to his duties as Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board, Toews is the current UCP MLA for Grande Prairie-Wapiti. Toews is a CPA and worked in a public accounting practice and business management prior to entering politics in 2019. He also ran his family’s cattle ranching operation and an oilfield environmental service company. Toews officially registered his candidacy with Elections Alberta on May 30th to kick off his bid to replace Jason Kenney as UCP leader.
Another potential contender currently sitting in cabinet is Rebecca Schulz, who has served as Minister of Children’s Services since being elected as the UCP MLA for Calgary Shaw in 2019. Before her career in politics, Schulz worked in communications at the University of Calgary and the Ministry of Education in the Saskatchewan Government.  
Also reportedly considering a run for leader is Rajan Sawhney, the UCP MLA for Calgary-Northeast and current Minister of Transportation. Sawhney worked in the oil and gas business before entering public life. Former Wildrose Party leaders Danielle Smith and Brian Jean have both also committed to run.
As a result of Toews’ departure from Cabinet, with more exits possibly to come, Premier Kenney will soon need to shuffle his cabinet. The Premier, however, recently signalled he plans to hold off doing a shuffle until other possible leadership candidates currently sitting at the cabinet table make their decision to run or not. Until then, other senior ministers will likely end up doing short-term double duty in some portfolios.

Spring Session is a Wrap

The Spring sitting of the 30th Alberta Legislature drew to a close last week. The session saw the Government pass legislation in a number of key policy areas, such as:   

  • The Utility Commodity Rebate Act allows for $50 per month in electricity rebates over three months for two million households, farms and small businesses, amounting to nearly $300 million in relief on electricity bills; and
  • The Red Tape Reduction Statutes Amendment Act removes barriers to economic growth like enabling intermunicipal business licences and increasing the sustainability of rural utilities.

A number of other bills passed and are still awaiting Royal Assent, including Bill 22, the Electricity Statutes (Modernizing Alberta’s Electricity Grid) Amendment Act. The Bill provides the legislative framework to enable energy storage, unlimited self-supply with export, and help the distribution system plan for electric vehicles, renewable power sources and other distributed energy resources. It would also begin the transfer of remaining Balancing Pool responsibilities and prepare for its future dissolution.

The final step of giving Royal Assent for Bill 22, and the other legislation that passed during the Spring Session will happen at the Government’s discretion. The Fall sitting of the Legislature is expected to start on October 31, 2022 and will pick up Government’s legislative agenda from the spring.

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For information and insights about what these latest developments mean for Alberta’s political landscape, please contact:

Rick Fraser – Senior Strategy Advisor

Duane Monea – Senior Strategy Advisor

Jeff Sterzuk – President

Ben Thibault – Senior Strategy Advisor

Richard Truscott – Vice-President

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