Ric McIver quits cabinet, announces run for leadership of Alberta Tories

Calgary member of the legislature and former city alderman Ric McIver announced Wednesday he is entering the race to become the next Tory party leader and premier.

CALGARY — Calgary member of the legislature and former city alderman Ric McIver announced Wednesday he is entering the race to become the next Tory party leader and premier.

McIver, who quit as infrastructure minister to avoid a conflict of interest in the race, made it clear he will run a populist campaign as an insider with outsider ideas.

“Albertans will be the boss,” said McIver, announcing his candidacy on the front lawn of his house. “They are the only ones who should tell me and government what to do.”

McIver is the second candidate to formally announce he is running to become the permanent replacement to former premier Alison Redford.

Former municipal affairs minister Ken Hughes has already announced he is running. One-time Calgary MP Jim Prentice has not said he will run, but his intermediaries have made it clear he will soon enter the fray.

Redford resigned March 23 ahead of a caucus revolt over spending on herself and her inner circle.

McIver made it clear where he stood on that issue.

“Politics is not about enriching oneself,” he said. “Politics is about getting things done for severely normal Albertans.

“Common sense, new thinking is needed to replace insider establishment thinking.”

McIver, 55, served three terms on Calgary city council before losing the 2010 mayoral race to Naheed Nenshi.

He won the Calgary-Hays seat in the legislature in 2012 and served as transportation minister before being named to the infrastructure portfolio in December.

As transportation minister, he received credit for breaking a long-standing logjam to strike a deal with the Tsuu T’ina Nation on a southwest ring road for Calgary.

Recently, he found himself caught up in the scandal over the release of documents that showed Redford’s office had been working secretly to build a penthouse suite for her and her daughter on top of a government building near the legislature.

McIver said after he took over the infrastructure portfolio, he learned about the penthouse and shut the project down in January.

Mciver promised new thinking in government and cited three immediate policy promises.

He said no senior members of his campaign team will be eligible for government contracts and that companies or people who are registered to lobby the province will not be allowed to simultaneously get government work.

He also promised that, under his watch, the chief of staff would make less than the premier. Redford’s former chief of staff, Farouk Adatia, made $316,000 a year, well above the salary for Redford.

“Do Albertans want more establishment thinking? Or do they think it’s time for some new thinking?” said McIver.

Other potential candidates are expected to make their intentions known in the coming days.

Finance Minister Doug Horner, who lost to Redford in the 2011 leadership race, has said he will announce his plans on Friday.

Fellow cabinet ministers Thomas Lukaszuk and Diana McQueen have said they will announce after the current spring legislature session ends.

The session is expected to wrap up Thursday.

PC party members will vote for a new leader on Sept. 6. If no one candidate receives more than 50 per cent of the vote at that time, the top two candidates will move on to a second and final run-off vote on Sept. 20.

Premier Dave Hancock will serve in the top job until then. His office announced Wednesday that Transportation Minister Wayne Drysdale will assume McIver’s infrastructure duties until a new minister is sworn in.

Hancock has said he expects all cabinet ministers who run to be leader to step down form their portfolios to avoid the appearance of using their cabinet positions to further their leadership interests.

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