2006 Alberta Progressive Conservative Leadership Race

On December 2, 2006, Alberta Progressive Conservative Party members selected Ed Stelmach as their new party leader and as the new Premier of Alberta. Stelmach replaced the retiring Ralph Klein, who held those roles for 13 years. Premier Stelmach won the leadership after two rounds of voting, defeating frontrunners Jim Dinning and Ted Morton. This article provides an overview of the leadership selection process, events, and results.

Events Leading up to the PC Party Leadership Contest

Background events leading to the leadership race

The Progressive Conservative Leadership Selection Process

How Does the Alberta PC Party Choose Its Leader?

Quick Guide to Voting for the Leader of the PC Party

How to guide for voting in the Progressive Conservatives leadership election

Candidates Running For the Leadership of the Progressive Conservatives

Background on the candidates and their policy platforms

Alberta Progressive Conservative Leadership Campaign News

A survey of current news, polls and issues surrounding the campaign

Results of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Leadership Contest

Highlights and winners of the votes

Source & Links for Further Information

List of Internet links for further information on the Progressive Conservative Leadership Race


Events Leading to the PC Party Leadership Election

Background events prefacing the leadership race

On November 25, 2006 and December 2, 2006, the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta (PCAA) held an election to choose a new party leader. The leadership contest arose due to the resignation of Party Leader (and Premier) Ralph Klein on September 20, 2006. Klein remained in office until the party chose a new leader. Ed Stelmach became Alberta’s 13th Premier. 

March 2006 leadership vote

On March 14, 2006, Ralph Klein, who had been Premier of Alberta for 13 years, announced his intention to resign on October 31, 2007. Klein indicated he would remain Premier until a new leader was selected in a 2008 leadership contest. Some PC Party members regarded a two-year delay in replacing Klein as party leader unfavourably. In addition, Klein’s announcement that cabinet ministers who wished to run for the leadership would have to give up their cabinet posts by June 1, 2006 was not well received. Lyle Oberg, then Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, was angered by this request. He also expressed concern about the toll a prolonged leadership race could have on the PC government’s ability to deal with billions in energy revenues that were in the provincial treasury. Oberg voiced his concerns over the leadership process and told his constituents in Brooks, Alberta that he would urge delegates at the March 31, 2006 leadership review not to support Klein. On March 23, 2006, Oberg’s comments resulted in a demotion from cabinet (with the possibility of returning after a six-month hiatus) and his indefinite suspension from the PC caucus. He later apologized for his remarks, saying they were made in the heat of the moment.

PC Mandatory Leadership Review

On March 31, 2006, a mandatory party leadership review was held. Party delegates voted on the question of whether Klein should continue as party leader. Prior to the leadership review, Klein had stated he would resign as leader in short order if he did not receive a “substantial majority” on this vote. When the vote was held and the results were tallied, Klein received 55.4 percent well below his personal threshold of a “substantial majority” of support. A few days later, Klein announced he would write a letter to party officials in September asking them to commence plans for finding the party’s next leader. He stated that a new leader would likely be chosen in October or November of 2006, and that he would leave office shortly thereafter. On September 20, 2006, Klein officially announced his resignation, triggering the race for the next leader of the PC party, and by extension, the race for the Premier of Alberta.

Implications for the Alberta Cabinet

Following Klein’s original announcement that he intended to leave office, he requested that all cabinet members interested in running for the leadership resign and move to the back bench by June 1, 2006. Although the request was not unprecedented, it was controversial considering the Premier’s lengthy departure timeline. Klein subsequently explained that his request to have cabinet ministers resign was intended to create a level playing field for all candidates. He also sought to limit the ability of any members of his cabinet team, who were also leadership candidates, to make decisions or statements that could affect the government in the interim.


The Progressive Conservative Leadership Selection Process

How Does the Alberta PC Party Choose Its Leader?

The Voting Format

The format for the 2006 leadership selection was identical to the leadership selection held in 1992. Each party member had one vote; the top three leadership candidates from the first round advanced to the second round of voting. To win, a candidate needed to receive 50 percent (plus one vote) of total party member votes on the first ballot, cast on November, 25, 2006.  If no clear winner was determined (with no candidate receiving 50 percent plus one), candidates were ranked in a preferential ballot on December 2, 2006. All voters ranked the three candidates in order of preference; the candidate who earned 50 percent plus one of the No. 1 rankings won. If there was still no clear winner after this second round, the candidate with the fewest votes dropped off the ballot and his/her votes were transferred, in order of the previously stated preferences, to the remaining two candidates. A winner would then be declared.

Voter Eligibility

Any Canadian citizen and Alberta resident over age 16 can vote, as long as s/he is a member of the Progressive Conservative Party. Each voter cast a paper ballot in his/her riding; the Party operated one polling station in each urban riding in the province, and enough in rural ridings to ensure access for all party members. Memberships were available to non-members for five dollars until the final balloting in the selection process (including at polling stations on both days and in between polling days).

Candidate Eligibility

To be declared a candidate in the PC leadership race, prospective leadership contenders had to complete and return nomination papers to the Party’s offices by October 16, 2006. Candidates were also required to deliver a $15,000 non-refundable deposit, as well as a petition with 500 names of supporting party members.

Leadership Race Timeline

  • March 14, 2006:  Premier Ralph Klein announced his intention to tender his resignation on October 31, 2007, but remain in office until early 2008.
  • March 15: Klein ordered cabinet members who intended to run in the leadership election to resign from cabinet by June 1, 2006.
  • March 31: Members of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party voted in a secret ballot on Klein’s leadership. Klein suggested he would resign immediately if he did not receive a “substantial majority” in the leadership review. The Premier received 55.4 percent of the vote. He requested time to decide whether to submit his resignation.
  • April 4: Klein announced he would write a letter to party officials requesting that they commence a leadership election. He stated his expectation that a new leader will be chosen by October or November 2006, and that he would leave office in December. 
  • August 17: Klein confirmed his plan to tender his resignation as Party Leader on (or around) September 14, and resign as the MLA for Calgary-Elbow upon leaving office as Premier.
  • September 20: Klein announced his resignation as party leader. The Progressive Conservative leadership race officially began.
  • October 16: Leadership candidate nominations closed at 5PM MST.
  • November 25: First ballot in the leadership selection process occurred. Polls opened between 9AM and 7PM MST.
  • December 2, 2006: The second ballot of the leadership election took place. Polls opened from 9AM to 7PM MST.

Quick Guide to Voting for the Leader of the PC Party

How to guide for voting in the Progressive Conservatives leadership election

Polling Stations

Each urban riding had one polling station and there were enough polling stations in rural ridings to ensure convenient access. Polling stations were open from 9AM to 7PM MST on Saturday, November 25, 2006, and again on Saturday, December 2, 2006. At the polling station, voters were asked to present a party membership card and two pieces of identification, including one with a photo, to verify residency within the constituency. The following is a list of eligible identification (including but not limited to):

  • Driver's licence
  • Canadian passport
  • Citizenship card
  • Social Insurance card
  • Student ID
  • Utility bill
  • Property tax bill
  • Automobile insurance card.

Voters may be asked to provide proof of age and evidence of citizenship.

Advance Polls

Advance polls were held prior to each voting day. An eligible voter unable to vote on Polling Day, or who for religious reasons wished not to vote on a Saturday, cast a ballot at an Advance Poll. Advance Polls were held on Monday, November 20, 2006 from 5PM to 9PM  MST, and on Wednesday, November 29, 2006 from 5PM to 9PM MST.


Candidates Running for Leadership of the Progressive Conservatives

Background on the candidates and their policy platforms

Declared Candidates

Candidates wishing to run in the PC leadership race had to submit nomination papers to the Progressive Conservative Party offices by October 16, 2006. There were eight candidates officially declared. Each candidate's biographical information is provided along with brief policy platform overviews for each candidate concerning the following ‘hot topics’: energy and resources, the environment, and health care.

Jim Dinning

Jim Dinning is the former Treasurer of Alberta. Born in Edmonton in 1952, he attended Queen’s University, graduating with a Bachelor of Commerce in 1974 and a Masters in Public Administration in 1977. Upon graduation, Dinning worked as an assistant in the Cabinet Office in Edmonton and then served as Cabinet committee secretary. From 1979 to 1982 he served as executive assistant to Provincial Treasurer Lou Hyndman. In 1984, Dinning was appointed Alberta’s youngest deputy minister in the Alberta department of Federal and Intergovernmental Affairs. He first sought elected office in 1986, winning the riding of Calgary-Shaw in that year's provincial general election. He was appointed Minister of Community and Occupation Health in June 1986 and two years later he was appointed Minister of Education. In 1992, Dinning was appointed Provincial Treasurer by newly installed Premier Ralph Klein. In 1997, he was given the Distinguished Service Award by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Alberta, in recognition of his leadership in improving Alberta’s financial affairs. Dinning elected to leave politics that same year and joined TransAlta Corporation where he served as Senior Vice-President and subsequently, Executive Vice-President from 1998 to 2004. Dinning is currently married to Evelyn Main. He has four children from his first marriage.

Policy Platform

Energy & Resources:
  • Put limits on growth in the booming oil sands region of northeastern Alberta;
  • Invest part of Alberta’s resource revenues in permanent funding for a sustainable water-use strategy, especially in the oil sands region;
  • Press the oil industry to upgrade more of the oil sands' output in Alberta, rather than shipping it to the US; and
  • Oil processing in Alberta should be a condition of project approval.
Environment
  • Make it a requirement for wise environmental stewardship as a non-negotiable condition for doing business in Alberta;
  • Set aggressive targets (within 18 months) for reducing emissions and developing incentives and regulations to ensure those targets are met;
  • Develop environmental technologies in Alberta and licence those technologies to the rest of the world, including technologies that address global warming, such as clean coal, carbon capture and sequestration, and alternative energies and biofuels;
  • Protect the water supply and enhance water quality;
  • Manage urban sprawl and its impact on traffic and congestion; and
  • Protect and enhance Alberta’s wilderness, provincial parks, and wildlife.
Health Care
  • Give the province’s nine regions more power to make changes to improve health care delivery, rather than relying solely on systemic changes in the Third Way plan (an initiative aimed at reforming the health care system by, in part, incorporating select private health care measures into the public system);
  • Exhaust all options for strengthening the public system before looking beyond it for solutions;
  • Continue to challenge health regions to find the most efficient and best ways of eliminating bottlenecks and constraining costs;
  • Address shortages of doctors, nurses and other health providers, especially in rural areas; and
  • Pursue innovative and practical ideas within the public health system – ideas such as primary health care, managing chronic illnesses, and establishing electronic health records.

Victor Doerksen

Victor Doerksen was born on November 25, 1953 in Bassano, Alberta and grew up in Linden, Alberta. He became a certified general accountant (CGA) in 1980, complementing his previous education as a computer analyst/programmer. Doerksen then served as a credit officer with the Federal Business Development Bank, and as a comptroller for a private business. He subsequently joined the Bank of Montreal in 1982; during his 12-year tenure with the bank he progressed to the position of senior manager, and worked in Brandon and Winnipeg (Manitoba), and Edmonton and Red Deer (Alberta). He was honoured by the CGA Association in 1998 with a fellowship award in recognition of his commitment of service to the community, and to the CGAA. He began his political life in 1993 when he was elected MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) for Red Deer-South. As MLA he served on the implementation team on Accountability in Education, the Task Force on the Young Offenders Act, the Monitoring Enforcement and Access Committee, and the Task Force on Eye Care Services. In March 2001, Doerksen was appointed as Minister of Innovation and Science and reappointed to this position in November 2004. Doerksen lives in Red Deer with his wife Doris. They have four grown children.

Policy Platform

Health Care/Energy & Resources
  • Create a $25 billion health care trust that would generate money to pay for future medicare costs, with 25 percent of Alberta’s total energy royalties going into the new trust until it reaches $25 billion.
Social Services
  • Implement a new $300 million Child Care Option program, designed to directly provide parents with $100 per month for each child under six years of age;
  • Include a new element under the Child Health Care Benefit to provide low-income parents with the opportunity to enroll their children in sports and recreation programs; and
  • Increase non-refundable tax credits for those providing elder care, in addition to increasing said amount to equal that of the basic personal amount.

Dave Hancock

Dave Hancock was born in Fort Resolution, NWT on August 10, 1955, lived in Hazelton, BC, and then moved to Fort Vermilion, Alberta. He moved to Edmonton in 1972 where he received his law degree from the University of Alberta and was a partner at Matheson and Company, Barristers and Solicitors, before entering politics. Hancock served as Regional Director (1974-76), Youth President (1974-76) and President (1990-92) of the Progressive Conservative Party. As Party President he chaired the 1992 Leadership Selection Process, steering the party to changes that included using a one-member one-vote system (the one-member-one-vote principle allows direct participation by granting each party member one vote in the leadership selection). He has held the posts of Government House Leader, Vice Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Education and Employment, and member of the Agenda and Priorities Committee and Treasury Board. He also chaired the government’s Strategic Planning Committee, which developed a renewed vision and 20-year plan for Alberta. First elected in 1997, Hancock is currently serving his third term as Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Edmonton-Whitemud. He has previously served as Minister of Advanced Education, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, and Minister of Intergovernmental and Aboriginal Affairs.

Policy Platform

Energy& Resources
  • Work with industry to set appropriate targets and standards;
  • Work with municipalities and communities on a regional basis to encourage resource and service sharing and cooperation;
  • Impose stricter enforcement and penalties for breaches of environmental responsibilities; and
  • Adopt new building and construction standards to reduce energy demands.
Environment
  • Refresh and update the Clean Air Strategy by developing public awareness and using an accountability framework to hold accountable those responsible for clean air;
  • Establish the Water for Life Strategy as a government priority to ensure the short-term value of the resource being extracted is not considered without devoting appropriate attention to the long-term impact on the water supply; 
  • Implement the Land Use Strategy to ensure the long-term viability of the land in every part of Alberta; and
  • Provide leadership to the world by developing and exporting new technologies in areas related to climate change and emissions.
Health Care
  • Spur competition and innovation by improving accountability through the publication of real, standardized performance measures across Alberta which are reported to the public;
  • Support the health regions in improving access and productivity overall, and especially in the areas of primary care and ‘advanced access’ re-engineering of referral to specialty services;
  • Ensure all health care professionals, including nurses, pharmacists, and optometrists, are allowed to practice to the full extent of their training and capability (and to take responsibility accordingly); and
  • Ensure post-secondary institutions are working with the health community so Alberta is training the people needed to fully staff the health care system, especially in smaller communities and in hard-to-recruit disciplines.
Education
  • Implement an Alberta post-secondary single point-of-access for students, enabling them to apply for their programs by electronically submitting one application and one fee. Applicants who qualify will be advised of the options available for the programs they desire so that they can prioritize their access choice and be assured of admission to a program within Alberta;
  • Access to post-secondary education, and that post-secondary institutions are "thirsty" for students – recruiting actively and promoting high school completion and transition to post-secondary studies;
  • Fulfill the commitment made to create 60,000 new spaces for Alberta students, ensuring that spaces are available in programs in high demand by students and the workplace (e.g., health care); and
  • Work with stakeholders to drive an initiative to fund Alberta resident students’ first-year tuition for PSE (no matter whether it's college, trade school, technical institute, art college or university) immediately following high school completion. Such a policy will be a strong incentive for students to complete high school (thus raising our completion rates) and effectively cut the tuition cost of a four-year degree by 20 percent. Post-secondary graduates will receive a tuition rebate upon completion of their post-secondary program.

Gary McPherson

Gary McPherson was born in Edson, Alberta but has lived in Edmonton since 1955. For 20 years he served as President of the Canadian Wheelchair Sports Association (CWSA). McPherson has been recognized for his work with numerous awards and has been inducted into both the Edmonton and Alberta Sports Halls of Fame. On November 16, 1995 he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree by the University of Alberta for his contribution to the community. McPherson served for 10 years as Chairman of the Premier's Council on the Status of Persons with Disabilities providing advice to the Government of Alberta. Currently, he is Executive Director of the Canadian Centre for Social Entrepreneurship (CCSE) in the Faculty of Business at the University of Alberta. He is also an adjunct professor, as well as a special lecturer and advisor in the Faculty of Physical Education & Recreation. McPherson is married to Valerie Kamitomo; they have two teenaged children.

Policy Platform

Energy & Resources
  • Levy a reasonable royalty on the extraction and sale of the oil sand resources;
  • Develop a strategy for the longer term development of Alberta’s oil sands by seeking a resolution to establish a panel under the auspices of the Energy and Utilities Board (EUB) consisting of five or six knowledgeable people with the authority to: a) define the specific issues/problems to be dealt with in planning oil sands development; b) hold a series of public (and possibly private) meetings to provide interested parties with the opportunity to present their views; and c) develop and present a plan of action for approving and regulating the orderly construction and operation of major oil sands projects to the Alberta government; and
  • Enact and enforce strict environmental guidelines respecting the construction and operation of an oil sands project to deal with the disposal of solid and liquid wastes, the reclamation of mined lands, the discharge of gaseous effluents, and the use/recycling of river waters.
Environment
  • Implement the Alberta Foundation for the Environment (AFE), which will result in the creation of new knowledge-based and "value-added" applied environmental technologies that can be utilized in Alberta and marketed worldwide in conjunction with private businesses; and
  • Seed the (AFE) with up to $300 million dollars of provincial funding, and seek similar federal monies and contributions from private industry to emphasize, expedite, and strengthen research and the commercialization of products that will enhance air quality, water usage, and interaction with natural resource extraction.
Health Care
  • Take a bold, new and proactive approach to facilitating healthy lifestyles and providing relevant information that will enable most Albertans to take personal responsibility as it relates to their overall individual health;
  • Focus efforts on proactive health and self-responsibility and, in the process, begin to elevate the importance of healthy living options and alternatives; and
  • Take care of the immediate issues that affect Albertans with respect to their personal pain and suffering, such as waiting lists for hip and knee replacements. 

Ted Morton

Ted Morton obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Colorado College in 1971, his Master of Arts in Political Science from the University of Toronto in 1975, and his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Toronto in 1981. He was an instructor at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, from 1978 to 1981. From 1981 to 2004 he was a professor with the University of Calgary and a visiting professor with a number of other institutions. In 2001, he served as the Director of Policy and Research with the Office of the Leader of the Official Opposition, Parliament of Canada.  In 1998, Dr. Morton was elected as a Senator-in-waiting in Alberta’s second-ever senate election. Throughout his working life he has received several career awards and distinctions; he has also published numerous articles, in addition to editing, authoring, and co-authoring several books. He and his wife Bambi have three children.

Policy Platform

Energy & Resources
  • Saving 30 percent of non-renewable resource revenues and redressing oil and gas royalty rates.
Environment
  • Proclaim new Land Use Framework that protects Mountain Parks and Eastern Slopes;
  • Protect wildlife, end out-of-season hunting and fishing, repeal Métis Harvesting Agreement; and
  • Compensate landowners for wildlife habitat preservation.
Health Care
  • Supplement existing universal system with private insurance;
  • Reduce wait times and allow private clinics to deliver some services; and
  • Ensure Emergency Room accountability.
Other Issues
  • Increase Alberta’s clout by using full extent of constitutional powers on issues such as health, law, labour, and the environment;
  • Guide and manage Alberta’s full growth potential with a pension plan, police force, and made-in-Alberta immigration priorities; and
  • A re-introduction of Bill 208, allowing clergy members and marriage commissioners to choose to refuse to marry same-sex couples.

Mark Norris

Mark Norris was born in Edmonton in 1962. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science from St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia before beginning his business and professional career in Edmonton. In 1990, he purchased the family business (advertising and sign manufacturing) running it for nine years, before selling it to Pattison Outdoor Advertising in 1999. Over the years he has been involved in the volunteer sector, supporting and founding several community organizations (Founder, Tri-ing for Kids Triathlon Event; Founder, Mark Norris Rotary Invitational Golf Tournament; Supporter, Junior Achievement). Norris entered provincial politics in 2001, standing for election in the riding of Edmonton-McClung. After winning his seat he subsequently served as the Minister of Economic Development, responsible for Tourism and Industry, from 2001 to 2004. Mike Norris and his wife Veronica have two children.  

Policy Platform

Energy & Resources
  • Manage Alberta’s abundant and varied energy resources and maintain a competitive royalty and regulatory regime;
  • Create a Ministry of Energy and Oil Sands with a responsibility to work closely with other departments on environmental, infrastructure, and community challenges in northeastern Alberta (the department would be mandated to increase value-added energy development in the province); and
  • Aggressively protect Alberta’s natural resources from federal intrusions. 
Environment
  • Implement the Water for Life strategy to ensure a safe drinking water supply, healthy aquatic ecosystems, and reliable water supplies for a sustainable economy;
  • Improve Alberta’s monitoring and knowledge about water resources and groundwater mapping;
  • Expand the responsibilities of the Alberta Environment Department to include a greater role in integrating economic, resource, and environmental policy; and
  • Adjust Alberta Environment’s business plan so that recommendations on key issues are brought forward on a timely basis.
Health Care
  • Ensure health care partners are accountable for health and financial outcomes, review the management system to ensure every dollar that should be spent on front-line care is actually being spent there and not on overlapping management systems;
  • Review the RHA structure and delivery models to ensure efficient service delivery;
  • Conduct a review of the electronic health record system and ensure the system is cost-effective and that patient confidentiality is not violated;
  • Further extend the diagnostic and treatment centre clinic model, working effectively in Calgary, to other areas;
  • Consider locating medi-centres near major emergency wards so that Albertans can get proper service at the appropriate place without long waits; and
  • Review the $3.5 billion capital plan for health care to ensure the right facility is being built in the right place.
Lyle Oberg

Lyle Oberg was born and raised in Forestburg, Alberta. He graduated from the University of Alberta in 1983 after completing his pre-med studies in Red Deer. He practiced medicine for 10 years as a family physician and general practitioner before making the transition to politics. He won a seat in the Alberta Legislature as MLA (Member of the Legislative Assembly) for Strathmore-Brooks, a riding he continues to represent today. He currently sits as an Independent (not affiliated with any political party), having been expelled by the PC Party caucus in the spring of 2006. Oberg has held several cabinet appointments including Minister of Family and Social Services (1997-99), Minister of Learning (1999-2004), and Minister of Infrastructure & Transportation (November 2004-March, 2006). Over the years he has been involved in key initiatives which include championing the identification and prevention of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and leading the initiative with other prairie provinces; establishing Alberta’s first Public-Private Partnership (P3), the Anthony Henday Freeway in Edmonton; delivering the Oberg Report on Health Care 1995; and, developing a new funding framework for the K-12 education system, allowing flexibility and including a set of accountabilities for boards. Oberg and his wife Evelyn have four children.

Policy Platform

Energy & Resources
  • Allocate two percent of all existing energy royalties collected to be returned back to the contributing communities for local infrastructure improvements;
  • Require Alberta Finance to prepare and release annually, to Albertans, 25-year projections for synthetic crude oil and bitumen royalties, so that Albertans know what they can expect to receive in economic rent from their stake in the oil sands and bitumen resources;
  • As of January 1, 2008, proceed with the anticipated termination of temporary royalty programs introduced in the 1980s and early 1990s to stimulate investment and stem the effects of low energy prices; and
  • Increase funding to Alberta’s Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) to $10 million annually, thereby enabling it to more adequately perform its functions of soliciting, listening to, and analyzing consumer concerns, and providing advice and guidance to stakeholders including government, regulators, and utilities.
Environment
  • Push for Alberta to invest some of its current royalties into an endowment fund for the development of transitional energy technologies including the development of a viable bio-fuels production chain, which would help grain farmers and protect the environment at the same time;
  • Make mapping Alberta’s water aquifers a high priority and develop a management plan to ensure all Alberta industries and future generations will have access to clean, safe, and affordable water; and
  • Ensure the quality or safety of Alberta’s drinking water by enhanced monitoring and investments in technology and infrastructure for water treatment and waste water management on a regional basis throughout the province.
Health Care
  • As a basic principle of good health care practice, treatment must be guaranteed by the Government of Alberta within a medically acceptable timeframe for a wide range of procedures;
  • Protect the integrity and quality of the public system by requiring doctors to devote a minimum of 75 percent of their time to the public system;
  • The health care system must focus on patient needs to enable Albertans to select the timing and the type of treatment they want;
  • The Alberta Initiative for Health Care Improvement would set aside $50 million to reach out to front-line health care practitioners across the spectrum of traditional and alternative medicine to examine how best to improve health care delivery; and
  • Eliminate health care premiums through a phased-out approach, supplanting that fiscal source with general revenues derived from a more efficient health delivery and patient choice system.

Ed Stelmach

Ed Stelmach was born and raised in the Lamont area of Alberta. While studying pre-law at the University of Alberta in 1973, a family tragedy forced Stelmach to postpone his university education and return to run the family farm. In 1986, Stelmach was elected as representative in his county; one year later he was appointed Reeve. Stelmach served as the County's representative on the local school district, and as the regional representative on the Alberta Health Unit Association of Alberta. He also served on the board of the Lamont Health Care Centre from 1986 to 1993. In 1993, Stelmach won the Progressive Conservative nomination for Vegreville-Viking. During his term as MLA he was appointed Chair of the Alberta Agriculture Research Institute. He also served as the Deputy Whip, and then as Government Caucus Whip in 1995, which led to four consecutive cabinet appointments: Minister of Agriculture (1997-99), Minister of Infrastructure (1999-2001), Minister of Transportation (2001-04), and Minister of International and Intergovernmental Affairs (2004-06). In March 2006, Stelmach resigned from cabinet to enter the leadership contest. Stelmach and his wife Marie have four grown children.

Policy Platform

Energy & Resources
  • Invest the resource revenues of oil and gas so that future generations will not be as dependent on selling non-renewable resources;
  • Immediately conduct a public, transparent review of the royalty regime to ensure Albertans are getting their fair share of the resources they own; and
  • Implement an investment plan for resource royalties that creates an Alberta-funded and secure Alberta Pension Plan, through fiscal discipline and low and fair taxes.
Environment
  • Improve quality of life by protecting the environment, reducing emissions, and ensuring a sustainable safe water supply; and
  • Plan for existing and new provincial parks.
Health care
  • Unite health professionals to improve the publicly funded health system; and
  • Take better care of seniors, including expanding long-term care and improving standards of care.
Other Issues:
  • Increase accessibility to post-secondary education and reduce costs for students by expanding the system of colleges and technical institutions and establishing satellite campuses in new locations.

Alberta Progressive Conservative Leadership Campaign News

A survey of current news, polls and issues surrounding the campaign

Opinion Polls

According to a Leger Marketing poll completed for the Calgary Herald on October 30, 2006, Jim Dinning led the race with support from 23 percent of respondents self-declared as PC party supporters (and 18 percent of the 900 Albertans surveyed). Lyle Oberg was the second-place candidate with support from 16 percent of respondents self-declared as PC party supporters (and 14 percent of the 900 Albertans surveyed). Ted Morton received the support of six percent of party supporters, while the rest had the support of four percent or fewer party supporters. However, at that point the race was far from over as 35 percent of self-declared PC supporters remained undecided (the number of undecided PC supporters fell from 45 percent in August 2006). A note of caution: self-identified PC party supporters are not necessarily the same people who voted in the leadership contest. Furthermore, these types of all member vote leadership contests reward the selling of memberships and mobilizing people to vote. All of the campaigns were busy recruiting new party members – their success in doing may have helped determine the outcome. The poll, conducted between October 23 and 30 2006, interviewed 900 Albertans; of the 900 surveyed, 476 identified themselves as PC party supporters. The margin of error for a sample of this size is ± 3.3 percent, 19 times out of 20; and the margin of error for the sample of self-declared PC Party supporters is ± 4.5 percent, 19 times out of 20.

Election Hot Topics

With eight candidates in the race for leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, and ultimately the job of Premier of Alberta, debates on policy were crucial in differentiating each candidate's position. As can be expected, the development of a long-term strategy for natural resources revenues was a hot topic in the leadership race. Reforming the health care system and protecting Alberta’s environment also garnered significant attention.

Investing Natural Resource Revenue:  The Oil Sands

Alberta’s oil sands represent 54 percent of Alberta's total oil production and, one-third of all oil produced in Canada. The oil sands contain deposits of bitumen, a heavy black oil that must be rigorously refined and then converted to crude oil to produce gasoline and diesel fuels. At the time of the leadership race more than 2,700 oil sands lease agreements were in place in Alberta, leaving another 70 percent available for exploration and leasing. Thus, it was not surprising that leadership candidates focused on how, if elected, they would invest revenue from Alberta’s energy industry.  

Management of the oil sands industry was also a key leadership contest issue. Several candidates indicated that, if selected, they would impose new regulations on oil sands development, such as making large oil companies upgrade raw oil in Alberta, rather than doing so abroad. Other candidates, meanwhile, promised to review royalty rates, as many Albertans felt the rates at the time did not fairly compensate them for the development of the province’s oil sands resources. Overall, the issue of investing revenues and regulating Alberta’s oil sands industry played a central role in the race. 

Protecting the Environment

The energy sector is closely tied to many of the environmental issues that challenge the province. Consequently, the environment featured prominently in this leadership contest. Alberta’s oil sands, while prosperous for the region, are Canada’s top source of greenhouse gas emissions, and are potentially damaging to the environment. Candidates faced the task of explaining how they would deal with balancing the economic benefits of oil sands development with the environmental repercussions of mining. Proposed solutions included imposing stricter environmental regulations, slowing development in the northern part of Alberta, and investing in revenues in clean energy research. 

Access to Health Care

For many Albertans, especially senior citizens, the issue of access to timely medical procedures is an important policy debate. Accordingly, most of the candidates in the race focused, to a large extent, on health care system reforms. Prior to announcing his retirement, Premier Ralph Klein had advocated for a “Third Way,” an initiative aimed at reforming the health care system by, in part, incorporating select private health care measures into the public system. Such measures include allowing use of secondary insurance to cover treatments from podiatrists and chiropractors, or permitting patients to pay extra to upgrade their hospital rooms or surgical procedures. Health care reform was a pressing leadership issue that continued to play out as the race wound down for the late November vote.

Alberta’s Place in Canada

In 2001, the National Post published a letter written by several prominent Alberta Conservatives (including now Prime Minister Stephen Harper and PC leadership candidate Ted Morton), advising Alberta Premier Ralph Klein to withdraw the province from many federal programs. The letter recommended several measures to put an economic and political firewall around the province to limit the extent to which the federal government could encroach upon Alberta’s provincial jurisdiction:

  • Replace the Canada Pension Plan with a provincial pension plan;
  • Set up a provincial income tax regime, rather than allow Ottawa to collect the tax on Alberta's behalf;
  • Replace the RCMP with an Alberta provincial police force;
  • Create a provincial health care plan; and compel Ottawa to create a Triple-E (effective, equal, elected) Senate.

In response, Klein stated that Alberta was ready to consider putting barriers around its economy and political authority to keep the federal government out of provincial affairs. Although he made it clear separation was not being considered, he stated that he would not keep the idea of a firewall around the province off the government's caucus table.

When the leadership race was in full-swing, Alberta’s place in Canada emerged as an important election topic. Consequently, most candidates took positions and crafted policies on how to deal with some of the issues raised by the “firewall letter.”

Rural Alberta

The rural vote was an area of focus for many candidates in this leadership contest. They attempted to tap into this demographic by spending time in the smallest and most remote corners of the province. Campaigning in these areas was especially important as many rural Albertans felt left behind by the booming Albertan economy. Income from farming was hurt by the disruption of beef exports following the BSE crisis (Mad Cow Disease). Revenues from rural well sites are often channeled into other parts of the province, while the costs for maintaining country roads carrying oilfield equipment are borne locally. Additionally, with a mature and continually developing oil industry there are higher concentrations of wells, pumps, pipelines, and high-density drilling than typically accompanies exploration for coal bed methane. This raises the issue of rural compensation for this development for both landowners and neighbours (who may be affected by the development).

For many rural Albertans this leadership election offered an opportunity to bring to the forefront issues that are of concern to them. Those candidates able to win the support of these residents (be they members of the PC Party or otherwise) will had to demonstrate a commitment to addressing their basic concerns: farm income, fair practices, and support for Alberta's tax-starved counties and municipal districts.


Results of the Alberta PC Leadership Contest

Highlights and winners of the votes

The leadership selection took place over the course of a week, with the first round of voting occurring on November 25 and the run-off vote on December 2. The following provides the highlights and results of the two votes.

Results of the First Round of Voting

The first round of voting was indecisive, with no candidate winning more than 50 percent of the ballots cast. The result was very close between the two frontrunners, Jim Dinning and Ted Morton, with the eventual winner, Ed Stelmach a relatively distant third. The exact results of the first round of voting were as follows:

Candidate

Votes
Percentage

Jim Dinning

29,470

30.2

Ted Morton

25,614

26.2

Ed Stelmach

14,967

15.3

Lyle Oberg

11,638

11.9

Dave Hancock

7,595

7.8

Mark Norris

6,789

6.9

Victor Doerksen

873

0.9

Gary McPherson

744

0.8

Total

97,690

100.0

Political Support After the First Round

With only the top three vote getters advancing to the second round of voting, the key political question was where the other candidates would throw their support. Lye Oberg, Dave Hancock, and Mark Norris official declared their support for Ed Stelmach, while Gary McPherson threw his support to Jim Dinning. Victor Doerksen chose not to endorse any of the leading candidates.

Results of the Second Round of Voting

In the second round of voting, party members indicated both their first and second choices for leader in a preferential ballot. With regard to members’ “first choice votes,” the result was very close between Ed Stelmach and Jim Dinning:

Candidate

Votes
Percentage

Ed Stelmach

51,764

35.9

Jim Dinning

51,282

35.6

Ted Morton

41,243

28.6

Total

97,690

100.0

However, members’ “second choice votes” overwhelmingly favoured Ed Stelmach, pushing him over the 50 percent threshold and making him the new leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservative Party and the new Premier of the province.

Candidate

1st Choice Votes
2nd Choice Votes
Total Votes
Percentage

Ed Stelmach

51,764

25,813

77,577

58.3

Jim Dinning

51,282

4,227

55,509

41.7


A list of Internet links for further information on the Progressive Conservative Leadership Race

Sources Used for this Article

Electronic Sources

Links for Further Information

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