Prentice lands top job

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September 9, 2014 10:30 AM

Premier-designate Jim Prentice with Vermilion-Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke. Prentice captured a huge victory in the leadership election on Saturday night, with 77 per cent of the votes cast, he won on the first ballot. - Christopher W. Brown Photo

Jim Prentice didn’t take long to distance himself from one of his predecessors Saturday night, as he captured 77 per cent of the vote in the Alberta Progressive Conservative Association leadership Rrace.

The four-month campaign ended as Prentice won the leadership on the first ballot, garnering a grand total of 17,961 votes over the over 23,000 that were cast on Friday and Saturday last week.

On Monday morning, Prentice, who gave a press conference in Edmonton, before meeting with outgoing Premier Dave Hancock, said that he was aiming for early on next week to be sworn in as Alberta’s 16th Premier.

He also said that he could name a new cabinet next week as well.

Prentice, who has never held a seat in the Alberta legislature, made mention of the fact that turnout was down in the leadership race due to voting problems which caused many PC card holders to not vote on either day.

“This leadership process wasn’t perfect,” he said. “While the results are overwhelming, the process followed by our party has created frustrations and disappointments at the very time that we did not need this. Let me again be clear this evening.

“My election as the leader of this party marks the beginning of a commitment to integrity and the acceptance of responsibility.”

During the speech, he acknowledged the fact that many in Alberta, including himself, have been angry at the way the government had been operating.

“Over time, the government has lost its way,” he said. “Watching from afar, I was as disappointed and as frustrated as anyone. I wasn’t at the table when those decisions were made – but I am at the table now. In fact, I will be sitting at the head of it.”

Prentice, who was seen as the frontrunner for the entire campaign, has a difficult task now of rebuilding the PC Party that has been marred by controversy since former premier Alison Redford resigned from the position in March.

“Albertans expect excellence and performance from those who are in positions of trust,” said Prentice. “They will not accept excuses. This must apply to the Government of Alberta, but first and foremost, it must apply to our party.

“As your leader and as the person accountable to those who are disappointed, there will be no excuses.”

Vermilion–Lloydminster MLA Richard Starke, who had backed Prentice for the leadership in May, said that he was pleased with the results.

“I think that what you will see is a caucus that has got clear leadership, and for a leader that has almost unanimous support from the members of caucus,” he said.

“In his acceptance speech, Prentice laid out very clearly that he is a leader with great vision, and he’s a leader that demands hard work and integrity from the members of caucus and the whole government.”

Starke said that those are two reasons why he endorsed Prentice. Starke also said during his interview with the Lloydminster Source that he spoke with Thomas Lukazsuk and Ric McIver after the convention.

“I congratulated both men on putting forward their vision of the province, it’s important in the political process that we have choices.

“They provided that choice in this race, and I have a great deal of respect for both men doing just that.”

McIver came in second with 2,742 votes (12 per cent), and Lukaszuk the only Edmonton candidate for the position came in a close third with 2,681 votes (11 per cent).

Vermilion-Lloydminster PC Riding Association President Lorelee Marin said that the party will rally around Prentice as they hope he gives Alberta the government they deserve.

“We can have confidence in Mr. Prentice’s ability to pull together the party, and to start to run the government in the way the people of Alberta expect a government to be run,” she said.

Support from around the country came flowing in after the announcement was made, with congratulations and well wishes coming from all political corners of the province.

Mayor Rob Saunders said that he congratulates the new premierdesignate and looks forward to working with him on issues that are effecting residents of the Border City.

“It’s nice to have that piece of business out of the way, and as a municipality we are looking forward to the provincial government settling down,” he said.

Saunders said that he hopes to chat with Prentice about the issues impacting the city.

“We have our bi-provincial status, of course, which I personally understand the new premier-designate is aware of,” he said.

“Some of our infrastructure needs because of our bi-provincial status, need to be very clear that the needs here in the Border City are no different from the needs in other parts of the province.” He added that there needs to be some attention to the city because of the high growth that has been seen in the last few years.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who worked with Prentice while he was in the federal government, extended well wishes to the premierdesignate.

“On behalf of the Government of Canada, I congratulate premierdesignate Jim Prentice on his selection as leader of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta,” he said.

“I look forward to working with Mr. Prentice on issues of importance for Albertans and all Canadians, including the economy, responsible resource development and job creation.”

Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith said in a press release moments after the announcement that she looks forward to working with the Prentice moving forward.

“Mr. Prentice has a tremendous road ahead of him in order to rebuild trust with Albertans and get a grip on a government that has spiralled out of control,” she said.

“Albertans will now look to him to start repairing the government’s damaged reputation and making progress on the many challenges we face as a province.”

Alberta Liberal Leader Raj Sherman didn’t take too long to blast the governing PC Party, and the leadership process.

“We strongly believe that it doesn’t matter who leads the current governing party, what Alberta really needs is a change in government.”

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