"Landslide Lukaszuk" looking for another squeaker

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August 28, 2014 1:41 PM

Thomas Lukaszuk, MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs, brought his campaign for leader of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta to the Border City on Monday and Tuesday. Lukaszuk met with party supporters and Albertans, trying to win them over before the leadership vote on Sept. 6. - Christopher W. Brown Photo

Former cabinet minister claims he will do what is right

With just over a week until the PC Party chooses a new leader, party members who took out memberships in the party will have a chance to vote in the
upcoming election. Three men are vying for the leadership, including Thomas Lukaszuk, MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs.

The Lloydminster Source caught up with the MLA and chatted about heading into the last week of the election and what he plans to do if elected on Sept. 6.

Lukaszuk became an MLA in 2001, being elected in the riding of Edmonton-Castle Downs, which was vacated by retiring MLA Pamela Paul. Lukaszuk stayed in the backbenches of government under former premier Ralph Klein, and was re-elected by a five-vote margin in 2004, earning him the title “Landslide Lukaszuk.”

It wasn’t until after his third election, in 2008, that he was brought into cabinet under former premier Ed Stelmach. Lukaszuk was named parliamentary assistant to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs.

Two years later, in 2010, he would become a cabinet minister being named minister of Employment and Immigration.

Serving in the position for almost two years, Lukaszuk was shuffled in October 2011 to minister of Education.

Lukaszuk’s most important job came when former premier Alison Redford asked him to serve as her right-hand man as deputy premier. While serving as deputy premier, Lukaszuk also held the position of ministerial liaison to the Canadian Forces, minister of Enterprise and Advanced Education.

Following some controversy in that position, Lukazsuk was tossed from the position of deputy premier, being replaced by current interim leader and Premier Dave Hancock. Lukaszuk was appointed the minister of Jobs, Skills, Training and Labour.

When Redford stepped down in March, Lukaszuk played coy with the idea of running for the permanent job of leader of the PC Party and premier.

On May, 22, after months of speculations, Lukaszuk announced that he would be standing for the leadership of the PC Party, saying, “There’s a need for a candidate from Edmonton.” And that the other two candidates didn’t offer a vision for Alberta that he could support.

Lukaszuk has made his way across the province, meeting with locals and party supporters in efforts to raise his awareness after announcing his candidacy. During his travels, he made it to the riding of Vermilion-Lloydminster twice, once to make a two-day stop in Lloydminster where he met with hospital officials, community groups and party members and the second time, to attend the Vermilion Fair.

When Lukaszuk travels across the province, he said that he has met with locals and has had the chance to tell his story.

“I’m hoping that people have a better understanding of who I am and what I stand for,” he said as he’s meeting people across the province.

During the last few weeks of the campaign, the issue of free memberships being handed out by another campaign was discovered, and Lukaszuk said that it’s fundamentally wrong for a leadership campaign to be giving out free memberships.

“This (leadership race) is based on the foundation that he who has the best ideas, he has the confidence of the voters wins,” he said. “Not he has the most money and gives away the most memberships and buys votes. That is what it’s all about.

“That is why I would encourage all voters to look at this campaign and look at the patterns that are arising and choose who is really going to make righteous, morality, integrity-based decisions.

“Is it going to be the person who can read the legislation and find loopholes and interpret it loosely, and play it fast and loose with the rules? Or he who will say, ‘I will do what I think is right and continue selling memberships.’”

Lukaszuk said that this is a great example of what has happened in the past.

“It’s a textbook example of don’t listen to what I preach, but watch me and judge me on what I’m doing.”

When asked about his predecessor Hancock, Lukaszuk praised the work that he’s doing and said that the job is a difficult one because of the length of his tenure.

“We have to give credit to Mr. Hancock, he’s only the interim premier, and he can’t really make long-term binding decisions, and he’s keeping the party moving forward and somehow keeping the party together during this time,” he said.

With just over one week until the leadership election, Lukaszuk said that he will continue to be Thomas heading into the next week of the campaign.

“I will continue to be Thomas. I have always been, I haven’t created an image of myself in this campaign that is different from myself,” he said. “I finally, for the first time in an election, I get to be me, and show Albertans who I am, and what my visions if for the province.

“Hopefully, I’m inundating Albertans with new ideas to address old problems. And expect the same thing from me, not only during the rest of the campaign, but–if I’m so lucky–when I become premier of the province as well.”

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