The Wildrose Party elected its new leader on March 28 and although the local candidate for Vermilion-Lloydminster has mixed thoughts about the leadership race, he ultimately feels the party is now in good hands.
Danny Hozack, who will be the contender for the Vermilion-Lloydminster riding in the next election, said it’s hard to watch a group of people he respects vie for the same position, but welcomes Wildrose Leader Brian Jean’s wealth of political experience.
“Nomination events, they’re a heart-wrenching thing in any party because what they do is force you choose between dear friends and both Drew and Linda were dear friends of mine,” Hozack said.
“But at the end of the day, if you’re looking to build a team, you have to vote for the person who you think has the best ability to bring everyone together and lead.”
Hozack described the runners up, Drew Barnes and Linda Osinchuck, as “wonderful people” and said the pair will remain a valuable part of the Wildrose team moving forward.
As for the leadership race itself, he called it a “hurry up” race and said it caused a lot of pressure because the provincial election wasn’t expected until next year. This brought on a lot of consternation for the party as everyone involved had to work in a compressed timeframe but Hozack is happy with the overall results.
“At the end of the day, I think we raised the Wildrose profile and we had a pretty darn good run. Our three candidates travelled thousands of miles and talked to thousands of volunteers and supporters and at the end of the day I think we made a good choice,” he said.
“We have Brian Jean and I think he will be a leader that will serve Alberta well in the future. So I think it turned out just fine, thank you.”
What makes Jean a good leader in Hozack’s eyes comes from his time in Ottawa and the political skills he’s picked up along the way. Hozack said Jean has gained opposition experience and has been parliamentary secretary to four ministers, all of which are good attributes for a party leader.
“He knows how to move an agenda forward and quite frankly we were a new party with not a lot of leader opposition experience or governing experience,” Hozack said. “He just brings 10 or 15 years of experience and organizational ability, plus all of his contacts to the table. So I think he will serve us very well.”
He said the Wildrose Party is in a good position now and over the last four years have shown they can be a credible counterpart to the current government. Under the new leadership of Jean, Hozack feels the party can continue on with that tradition.