Alberta cabinet ministers mulling bids to replace Jason Kenney

Members of Premier Jason Kenney’s cabinet are mulling a run to replace him in the upcoming race for the United Conservative Party leadership. 

Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney and Environment Minister Jason Nixon said Monday they are thinking about launching leadership bids. 

Sawhney, the UCP MLA for Calgary-North East, said she wanted to consult with family, constituents and Albertans before making a decision. 

“I haven’t made up my mind as of yet,” she said. “I’m still deliberating.”

Nixon, who serves as government House leader in addition to his duties as minister of environment and parks, said he was focusing on getting the government’s bills passed as the spring session winds down.

“I’ll be making decisions of what I think is best for the party,” said Nixon. “Make sure that we stay united and defeat the NDP in just over a year.”

Finance Minister Travis Toews is rumoured to be preparing his run at the governing party’s top job. On Monday, he wouldn’t confirm or deny his interest, saying he was focused on the business in the legislature. 

“There are many details that have yet to be determined by the party,” Toews told reporters at the legislature. “Right now we’re focused on the business of the people.” 

Last week, Kenney announced he was stepping down as UCP leader after receiving 51.4 per cent approval in a review of his leadership. He plans to stay on as premier and party leader until a permanent leader is chosen. 

Former Wildrose leader Danielle Smith and Fort McMurray-Lac la Biche MLA Brian Jean have both entered the race.

Jean is also a former leader of the Wildrose which merged with the former Progressive Conservative party in 2017 to form the UCP. Jean lost to Kenney in the 2017 leadership race, which remains under RCMP investigation due to allegations of voter fraud. 

On Monday, Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minster Doug Schweitzer said he wasn’t running for the leadership nor was he running for MLA in 2023. Schweitzer was first elected in Calgary-Elbow in 2019. 

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro, Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides and Health Minister Jason Copping ruled out a leadership run. 

Both Shandro and Nicolaides plan to seek second terms as MLA in their respective ridings of Calgary-Acadia and Calgary-Bow. 

The party has yet to announce the timeline for the leadership race. 

The next provincial election is scheduled for May 2023. 

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