UPDATED: Gordon Dirks announces decision to run in Calgary-Elbow

CALGARY – The two unelected ministers Alberta Premier Jim Prentice appointed to his cabinet have announced their plans to win a seat in the legislature.

Education Minister Gordon Dirks says he will be running in Calgary-Elbow, and Health Minister and former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel is running in Edmonton-Whitemud.

Edmonton-Whitemud was held by former premier David Hancock, who announced he is leaving politics — while Calgary-Elbow was vacated when former premier Alison Redford resigned.

Meanwhile, the Wildrose has presented the commander for Alberta’s reserve army as their choice candidate to take Calgary-Elbow.

Leader Danielle Smith introduced Col. Fletcher on Wednesday morning, calling his campaign “ground zero” for the Wildrose fight against the Tory dynasty.

Fletcher’s military experience also includes a stint as Commanding Officer with the Calgary Highlanders. He has practiced law in Alberta for over 30 years and established his own practice in 2002. He also spent 15 years negotiating legal matters, often internationally, for Ranger Oil Limited (which was acquired by Canadian Natural Resources Limited in 2000).

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“I believe Albertans should have representatives who are honest, ethical and act honorably for all. Sadly we have not seen these values in our leaders for some time,” says Fletcher.

The Liberals have nominated lawyer Susan Wright for the job, while the leader of the Alberta Party, Greg Clark, is also campaigning in the riding.

The premier is expected to call byelections by early October.

– With files from The Canadian Press

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