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 Jim Prentice, the former MP for Calgary Centre-North
The Lloydminster Source caught up with the former MP, and chatted about heading into the last week of the election and what he plans to do if elected on Sept. 6.
Prentice is seen by many as the saviour of the party. He’s the outsider that is currently on the path to win the race to become the leader of the governing party and premier.
This isn’t the first time Prentice has made a pitch to sit in the legislative assembly in Alberta. In 1986, he ran in Calgary-Mountain View and lost by under 300 votes in a close election.
Prentice moved away from politics deciding to go to private practice.
It wasn’t until 2002, during a byelection in Calgary, that Prentice’s name popped back up in the political rings in Calgary. He made his ambitions know that he would be a player on the national stage.
The byelection was pitting Prentice against current Sun media host Ezra Levant, but when a leadership election for the Canadian Alliance elected a new leader, Stephen Harper, Levant stepped down from the nomination process, as did Prentice.
After a year in the political wilderness, Prentice formed a campaign to take on the leadership of the then fourth-place Progressive Conservative Party of Canada. Former prime minister Joe Clark was retiring from politics again, and Prentice was ambitious and wanted the leadership.
His main focus was uniting the right to defeat the Liberal machine that dominated federal politics throughout the 1990s.
During the leadership race, Prentice garnered support from across the province, with the majority of his support coming from the western province.
In his first leadership election, Prentice went down, defeated by ultimate winner Peter MacKay.
When the merger of the PC party and the Canadian Alliance Party happened, Prentice announced that he would seek the leadership, only dropping out shortly after. It was the federal election of 2004, when Prentice would see his name on the top of the election results, winning the riding of Calgary Centre-North.
In Opposition, Prentice made a name for himself as critic to Indian Affairs. And, when Stephen Harper became prime minister on Feb. 6, 2006, many expected the political novice to be named to cabinet.
Prentice was named minister of India Affairs and Northern Development. He would be shuffled to Ministry of Industry a year and a half later, and his last position before self-imposed retirement was as minister of Environment.
In 2010, Prentice left federal politics, taking a job at CIBC and his name was rarely mentioned – only as a possible successor to Harper. Earlier this year, when Premier Alision Redford retired, Prentice’s name went to the top of the list of potential successors.
And on May 15, after months of specula- tions, Prentice announced that he would be seeking the premier’s chair.
Prentice made a splash in the race, while others had announced their intentions, others were waiting to see what Prentice would do first. Since the launch of his campaign, Prentice has been criss-crossing the province meeting with locals and meeting with supporters.
He is one of two candidates that made it to the Border City.
Prentice said that as he crosses the province meeting with people, he gets the sense of frustration that they have with the party and he’s listening to the concerns they have.
Without a seat in the legislature, his political opponents have made waves that they would be ready first day unlike him. Prentice scoffs at the idea.
“I’m at no disadvantage, if I was it would be like the rest of my life and I would buckle down and get it done,” he said.
“There will have to be a byelection, but getting to legislative assembly will be a priority, and I’ll deal with that when the time comes.”
Prentice said he is still focused on the leadership race, and getting into the home- stretch.
“I’m an old hockey player, I’ll continue to do what I do until the buzzer sounds,” he said.
“I’m going to keep going and, like I said from the outset, I’m going to campaign like I’m four votes behind and keep pushing right up until the end of the campaign.”
Prentice said that he’s been speaking about the priorities of all Albertans.
“I’m not from the government, I’m not from cabinet, or a cabinet minister, or even from caucus,” he said. “I think that a lot of things that went on inside this government defy explanation.
“So I’m not going to explain it. I wasn’t there. My point is that I’m a disappointed taxpayer that is running for this position because I want to get the province back on track, and believe in the hope and optimism of all Albertans.”