May 22, 2014 11:44 am

Lukaszuk leaps into Alberta PC leadership race

Watch above: One of Edmonton’s most colourful and polarizing politicians has entered the race for the Alberta PC Leadership. Laurel Gregory has the details.

EDMONTON – Thomas Lukaszuk is in the running to be leader of the Alberta Progressive Conservatives and the province’s next premier.

The MLA for Edmonton-Castle Downs resigned his cabinet position as minister of jobs, skills, training and labour before announcing his leadership bid Thursday.

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“I firmly believe that this … party is deserving of a good race, this province is definitely worthy of having a debate on some of the issues that regular Albertans face everyday,” he said. “That debate should be throughout the entire province and should include all perspectives from all Albertans.”

“I have decided today to resign from my office as a minister… This afternoon, I will be visiting the PC party headquarters and I will be picking up my nomination package.”

Lukaszuk said he will be travelling across the province over the next week to meet Albertans face-to-face to collect the 500 signatures required to be an official leadership candidate.

“I’m really looking forward to a positive, inspiring race, driven by ordinary Albertans and winning their support one membership at a time.”

At Thursday’s announcement, Lukaszuk was asked if he was intimidated that some of his Caucus colleagues had endorsed another candidate.

“You’re looking at a guy who lost an election and fought it and fought it and fought it and won it again,” he replied.

“Intimidation inspires me. That gives me extra energy and extra wind in my sails.”

“Am I intimidated? No, not at all. Is it going to be a challenge? You bet it is. But, that’s what drives me.”

Global News reporter Laurel Clark was live- tweeting during his announcement:

Lukaszuk is up against former infrastructure minister Ric McIver and former federal cabinet minister Jim Prentice. Prentice officially launched his campaign Wednesday.

READ MORE: Prentice vows to fix Redford-era scandals

READ MORE: McIver vows to remain in Alberta PC leadership race

Lukaszuk is the first Edmonton-based candidate to take a run at the party’s top job. Both McIver and Prentice are from Calgary.

“I think his path to victory is to claim the north, and let Prentice and McIver divide the south,” said Policy Studies professor at Mount Royal University. “I’m not sure that strategy will work. I think he’s a very polarizing figure and he has lots of enemies. And, we will have to see how effective he is in gaining support.”

Lukaszuk said he’ll run his campaign with volunteers from all backgrounds and with a focus on “everyday issues.”

He said credibility and trust must be earned by all members of government, including him, and admits the government lost both during the era of former premier Alison Redford.

“I was the first one to come out and say that there was an issue with entitlement. I was the first one to say that this government has lost its moral authority to govern.”

Lukaszuk said he believes the government can regain the trust of Albertans with “proper leadership.”

“With acceptance of some of our flaws and with focus on improving ourselves, we will earn the trust of Albertans, and Albertans will reward us with giving us the ability to govern over the future.”

“Lukaszuk is very controversial,” said Bratt. “He’s going to make the race much more interesting to follow.”

During Thursday’s announcement, Lukaszuk also commented about the so-called sky palace scandal.

In early May, documents revealed Alberta taxpayers were billed $173,000 for consulting work on a planned penthouse for Redford that never came to be.

The suite was to be on the 11th floor of the Federal Building, a historic structure under renovation that will eventually house offices for all members of the legislature along with other government officials.

Nominations for the PC party leadership close May 30 and members will vote in September.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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