By JOSH ALDRICH
Advocate staff and the Canadian Press
The Alberta’s Progressive Conservative party has slightly tweaked the way it will pick its new leader and Alberta’s new premier.
The PCA met in Red Deer on Monday night, taking three hours to decide to stick with the two-vote format that elected former leader Alison Redford, who stepped down last week.
The biggest change is that instead of three candidates moving on to the second vote, only the top two will advance this time.
Advanced Education Minister Dave Hancock will serve as premier until the party picks its new leader, but he has said he won’t run to become party leader.
The first vote will take place on Sept. 6, and if one candidate has more than 50 per cent of the vote, they will become the new leader. If no candidate earns 50 per cent, a second vote between the top two nominees will happen on Sept. 20.
Several formats were discussed among delegates in the closed-door meeting, said Jim McCormick, president of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta.
“It’s not a responsibility we took lightly and we put together a set of rules that will see the best candidate become the new leader of the Progressive Conservative Association of Alberta and premier of this province,” he said.
A deadline for nominations has not been set, though McCormick said that date should be decided upon in the next 10 days.
One change that was made was the cost to run. Each candidate will now have to make a $50,000 non-refundable deposit as part of their nomination.
In 2006, it cost $15,000 for a nominated candidate while in 2011 it cost $40,000.
“We think that qualified candidates will be capable of raising money and we think that is not an unreasonable amount to expect in this case,” said McCormick.
The Tories have faced considerable difficulty in raising funds in recent years, being surpassed by the Wildrose Party, the official Opposition.
Still McCormick said what the Wildrose Party has done did not play into their decision to boost the cost of running.
“We’ve made some changes, are we concerned? No,” he said. “What the other parties have to say or do doesn’t play into our decision.”
Municipal Affairs Minister Ken Hughes said Monday he’s interested in running for the leadership, but wants to set up a committee and a website to gauge public support before he commits.
“It’s not clear that I am going to run. I’m prepared to have a thoughtful conversation with Albertans. I’m prepared to listen,” Hughes said.
“I think it’s really important that the PC party and the government of Alberta to date demonstrate that they can listen and are prepared to listen to Albertans.”
In another development, a website popped up urging the public to draft Conservative Sen. Scott Tannas for the job. The site scottforleader.com describes him as a respected businessman, listener and consensus builder and says he would bring a “fresh approach to leadership.”
Tannas, a resident of High River, south of Calgary, did not immediately respond to requests for an interview.
One of the major talking points discussed in the meeting was to when the election process would take place, by law they have to hold it between four and six months after the resignation of their leader, and they opted to push it too the maximum.
“It was discussed at length, both for the timing, and it was decided in the end this was the route and timing for us to go,” said McCormick.
All Tory members over the age of 14 are eligible to vote in the leadership process.