October 26, 2017 4:36 pm

3-horse race enters homestretch in United Conservative Party leadership vote

WATCH ABOVE: The clock is ticking for the three men seeking the leadership of the United Conservative Party. Members will begin casting their ballots on Thursday. Tom Vernon reports.

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By laptop, tablet and telephone, members of Alberta’s United Conservative Party are casting digital ballots, choosing between three men to elect the first leader of the fledgling party in advance of the next provincial election.

READ MORE: United Conservative Party leadership vote begins Thursday morning

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Brian Jean, Jason Kenney and Doug Schweitzer are all vying for the party’s top job. With the trio holding very similar positions on matters like the economy and the carbon tax, it’s likely their stance on social issues as well as acumen for leadership will become big factors for those casting ballots.

“I’m the only one who can sit across from Rachel Notley and ask the tough questions,” Jean said in a conversation with News Talk 770’s Danielle Smith, alluding to the fact he is the only one of the three candidates who currently has a seat in the Alberta legislature.

LISTEN: Brian Jean, United Conservative Party leadership candidate, speaks with Danielle Smith about his plans moving forward. 

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READ MORE: Brian Jean says UCP leader should be person who can win most seats and ‘that person is me’

For Kenney, it’s not about the first day back at the legislature, but rather the day after the anticipated 2019 provincial election. Throughout the campaign, he has often talked about how the matters he dealt with in the Harper cabinet has prepared him to take on the role of premier.

“These were consequential decisions that frankly hardened me to be prepared for the tough challenges of being a head of government at a time of adversity in 2019 and beyond,” Kenney told Smith.

LISTEN: Jason Kenney, United Conservative Party candidate, joins Danielle Smith’s show to talk about his plans moving forward. 

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READ MORE: Jason Kenney making final push for Alberta UCP leadership

While sharing many of Kenney and Jean’s sentiments on the Alberta economy, Schweitzer repeatedly told members throughout the campaign that regardless of how fiscally sound the party’s policies are, they won’t get a chance to implement them if they don’t deal with what he feels is an elephant in the room.

Schweitzer cautioned a crowd in Lethbridge that millennials will comprise the largest block of voters in 2019 and in order to sell them on the party’s economic policies, the membership needs to square itself on social issues.

“Younger voters want to know that you share their values, otherwise they will come out in droves to vote against you,” Schweitzer told Smith.

LISTEN: Doug Schweitzer, candidate for leader of the United Conservative Party, joins Danielle Smith’s show.

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READ MORE: Doug Schweitzer’s ‘new blue’ campaign making final push before Alberta UCP leadership vote

Voting started Thursday morning at 9 a.m. and concludes Saturday at 5 p.m., with the winner being announced at a celebratory event in Calgary shortly after.

LISTEN: What’s the voting process like and what are some listeners saying about the candidates? Jeremy Nixon, executive director of the United Conservative Party, joins Danielle Smith.  

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© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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