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If successful in UCP leadership bid, Danielle Smith will find a seat as soon as possible


Danielle Smith is the only UCP leadership hopeful without a seat in the legislature but she hopes to change that.

“If I'm successful Oct. 6, I would look for an early opportunity to get into the legislature,” said Smith.

Smith says she wants to run in a rural riding and not the current vacant one of Calgary-Elbow, vacated by Doug Schweitzer.

She also said she would not call a snap election if she wins the leadership race, something one political scientist believes would hurt her chances of being in government.

“She certainly has got a credible path to leadership on Thursday,” said Lori Williams of Mount Royal University.

“There is no question the way she ran the campaign has really driven all the other candidates responses to the things she has talked about.”

Alberta’s next general election is slated for May 29, 2023.

Smith met with the media on Monday ahead of Thursday’s leadership vote.

She says she has received several offers from sitting UCP MLAs to take their seat – through a by-election.

Smith says she wants to be there to bring forth her first order of business, known as Bill 1, the Alberta Sovereignty Act, which gives more autonomy to Alberta over the federal government.

Smith will have to battle with party unity, with many members frustrated by how the party has changed since the last general election.

“It's why I decided to jump back in as I was beginning to see some of those same divisions occurring,” said Smith, referring to her previous tenure in politics, and the divisions between Wildrose Party and Conservative voters.

“I know now that if we end up seeing this conservative movement split, we will end up with a Rachel Notley government. I've warned people that if we choose a Rachel Notley government a second time, it'll be a choice and not a mistake. She could potentially be there for eight years, or 12 years or 16 years, like they (NDP) did in Saskatchewan.”

Smith says she will keep some of Jason Kenney’s cabinet ministers in place, saying they are doing a “fantastic job.”

The UCP set Monday as a deadline for mail-in ballots to be received.

About 124,000 UCP members were eligible to vote between seven candidates vying for the job.

According to UCP bylaws, the winning candidate must receive more than 50 per cent of the valid votes cast in a preferential ballot system. Voters will rank the candidates in order of their preference.

Hamish Marshall, is a partner at ONE Persuades, a research firm that privately polled more than 1,600 members of the UCP, for their choice on who should become leader.

Danielle Smith was the outright front runner.

“Someone who has got a very different style, and approach than Jason Kenney was going to be very, very popular,” he said.

“If people wanted to stick with the same kind of leader, they would have stuck with Jason Kenney. I think she had her early advantage by the issues she talked about, the way she talked about them, was very different from Premier Kenney and connected with a lot of members, enough to giver her a pretty commanding lead.”

Williams says Smith has to bridge the gap between all Albertans if she wants to stay on as premier beyond May.

“If the election were held today, according to a couple of reputable pollsters, Danielle Smith would not be able to win, (a general election),” said Williams.

“She doesn’t have the support in the centres that she need.” Top Stories

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