August 8, 2017 1:00 pm
Updated: August 8, 2017 3:43 pm

Alberta MLA Derek Fildebrandt will not join leadership race for new United Conservative Party

WATCH: Alberta MLA Derek Fildebrandt announces he won’t be joining the race to lead Alberta’s new United Conservative Party.

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A would-be contender for the leadership of Alberta’s new conservative party has ruled out joining the race.

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United Conservative Party MLA Derek Fildebrandt had been widely expected to join former PC leader Jason Kenney, former Wildrose leader Brian Jean and conservative strategist Doug Schweitzer in seeking the leadership of the new party.

READ MORE: Jason Kenney announces UCP leadership bid

But he says, despite being approached by many party members, he has decided not to seek the leadership.

“I’ve decided that the best path forward for myself and for the party and for Alberta right now is for me to focus on policy development and ensuring that our new United Conservative Party is founded on a strong foundation of fiscal conservatism, individual liberty and reasserting Alberta’s place of strength and leadership in Canada,” Fildebrandt said Tuesday.

LISTEN: MLA Derek Fildebrandt joins Newstalk 770’s Rob Breakenridge on air to chat about his decision not to run for leadership of the UCP.

Fildebrandt said he has spent the past two years lobbying for a merger of the two parties and now wants to build the new party into “a vehicle for ideas, not just power.”

Although he said he won’t endorse any of the current leadership candidates, Fildebrandt made it clear that he won’t be voting for Jean, his former leader.

“I’ve had two-and-a-half years to work with him and see his leadership up close,” he said.

“I’ve got more than enough experience to make a very confident decision that he is not the best man to lead the party and lead Alberta.”

Jean’s campaign said it would not be commenting.

Watch below: While maintaining he hopes to remain neutral, Alberta MLA Derek Fildebrant said Brian Jean’s leadership style is about “promoting himself.”

READ MORE: UCP leadership candidate Brian Jean reveals platform

Fildebrandt praised Kenney for recently announcing that, should he become leader, party members will determine what positions the UCP will take in the next provincial election. For that reason, Kenney has said he will not release a policy platform during the leadership campaign.

“I think Jason’s right to say that the policies should be up to the grassroots members to decide at a policy convention. But I do want candidates to be taking policies on issues in the meantime,” Fildebrandt said.

LISTEN: MLA Derek Fildebrandt joins Ryan Jespersen on 630 CHED

“I don’t want us to elect merely a personality and an individual leader. I want us electing someone who has been very clear where they stand on issues. Jason’s said where he stands on a number of issues but I’d like to see more.”

Kenney reacted to Fildebrandt’s announcement on social media.

“Thank you for being an early leader in the unity movement, @Dfildebrandt, and a principled voice for more freedom and less government!” he wrote on Twitter.

Fildebrandt said regardless of who wins the leadership vote Oct. 28, he will support the new leader.

“Leadership races are always divisive,” he said. “They are internal family fights and we never come out without a couple of bumps and bruises but I think, at the end of the day, we’ll be able to heal those wounds, come together as a party and replace the NDP in 2019.”

The PCs and Wildrose parties voted to merge into a new party last month.

Watch below: Ongoing Global News coverage of the Alberta United Conservative Party

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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