Prentice takes the reins

EDMONTON — Alberta premier-designate Jim Prentice began the job of righting the listing Progressive Conservative ship Sunday by announcing his transition team. Prentice, in an email, announced his five-member team to take him to the premier’s office.

  • Sep. 8, 2014 5:06 a.m.

EDMONTON — Alberta premier-designate Jim Prentice began the job of righting the listing Progressive Conservative ship Sunday by announcing his transition team. Prentice, in an email, announced his five-member team to take him to the premier’s office.

It is headed by Tim Hearn, the former chairman and CEO of Imperial Oil. The team will also include government house leader Robin Campbell and former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel, who has said he may run for office under a Prentice government.

“This is a group of talented, principled, and well respected Albertans who will assist in the transition to a new Progressive Conservative government,” said Prentice in a news release. “Under my leadership we will restore the bond of trust between Albertans and their elected officials, and return to sound conservative fiscal principles.”

Also Sunday, Prentice learned the last obstacle to a smooth transition to the top job had been erased.

Defeated candidate Thomas Lukaszuk joined with Ric McIver in saying they won’t challenge the results of an electronic voting campaign won by Prentice but marred by computer and phone foulups.

Lukaszuk said he’s not happy, but won’t stand in the way.

“That ship has sailed,” said Lukaszuk in an interview.

“There was a system. An outcome was achieved, and I’ll let it be.”

Prentice, 58, defeated Lukaszuk and McIver handily in results announced Saturday.

The former Calgary MP and cabinet minister for Prime Minister Stephen Harper took 77 per cent of the 23,386 votes, well over the 50 per cent plus one needed for a first-ballot victory.

McIver finished with 12 per cent and Lukaszuk 11 per cent.

But it was not without controversy.

Over two days of voting, there were scores of complaints: voters not receiving the required PIN codes, jammed phone lines and frozen computer downloads.

Party executive director Kelley Charlebois has said while the system had problems, the result reflected the true sentiments of the party.

Lukaszuk said all is not well.

“I firmly disagree with the party. The electronic vote was not a success by any standard. But at the end of the day it was what it was,” he said.

Charlebois said he expects party members will discuss the electronic voting experiment at the annual general meeting in November.

McIver told reporters after the vote Saturday that he, too, is moving on.

“What matters is Albertans get to decide, and they decided,” said McIver.

“It wasn’t the decision that I asked for, but it was the decision they made.

“And I always said, ’You get the government you deserve when you elect me, and you get the government you deserve when you don’t elect me.”’

He said he plans to continue working for the caucus and will seek re-election in Calgary-Hays under the PC banner in 2016.

Lukaszuk also said he will work on whatever position Prentice appoints him to, and is eyeing a run for the PCs in the next election in 2016 in his Edmonton-Castle Downs riding.

Prentice has promised substantive changes quickly to fulfil campaign promises to realign a caucus and government knocked off kilter under former premier Alison Redford.

Redford resigned in March amid revelations she had used tax dollars to spend lavishly on trips and office perks, including a pricey penthouse suite on top of a government building.

Prentice, based in Calgary, still needs to win a seat in the legislature. He has promised to do so quickly, but has not said where he’ll run.

Redford’s seat in Calgary-Elbow is open.

PC backbencher Neil Brown has offered to step down to let Prentice run in Calgary-Mackay-Nose Hill.

No date has been picked for Prentice to be sworn in as premier.

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