Jason Kenney wins United Conservative Party leadership

Jason Kenney elected leader of United Conservative Party of Alberta
Alberta's Conservatives have chosen Jason Kenney as their leader.

Alberta’s Conservatives have chosen Jason Kenney as their leader.

The results were posted to the United Conservative Party‘s website by accident, about 15 minutes before the formal announcement was made at Calgary’s BMO Centre Saturday evening.

Jason Kenney captured 61.1 per cent of the vote, followed by Brian Jean with 31.1 per cent and Doug Schweitzer received 7.3 per cent of the vote.

The results show nearly 94 per cent of members who were eligible to vote in the leadership contest cast their ballots online or by phone over the past few days.

Full Speech: Jason Kenney addresses United Conservative Party of Alberta after leadership win
Full Speech: Jason Kenney addresses United Conservative Party of Alberta after leadership win

The crowd erupted into cheers and applause when the formal announcement confirmed Kenney’s win.

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Kenney wasted no time attacking the NDP in his speech. “If we work hard, stay humble and earn every vote, we will ensure that this deceptive, divisive, debt-quadrupling, tax-hiking, job-killing, accidental socialist government is one-and-done,” he said

He went on to welcome all Albertans into the party, saying, “We don’t care in this party, what God you worship or who you love, what we care about as Albertans is how hard you work and how you will contribute to renewing this as a place of opportunity for generations to come.

“This is the province of fresh starts and new beginnings. If we work hard, we will renew that Alberta advantage, we will reignite this place a beacon of hope and opportunity for generations to come,” Kenney said to cheers.

WATCH: Jason Kenney says Alberta the ‘can do’ province

Jason Kenney says Alberta the ‘can do’ province
Jason Kenney says Alberta the ‘can do’ province

About 63,000 people were registered to cast ballots in online voting that began Thursday.

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At 1 p.m. Saturday, the party tweeted that 90 per cent of members had voted.

READ MORE: Alberta United Conservative leadership contenders vow to band together post vote

The former Calgary MP, who held high-ranking positions in the government of Stephen Harper, beat out former Wildrose leader Brian Jean and lawyer Doug Schweitzer on the first ballot.

Alberta Liberal Leader David Khan congratulated Kenney on the win. In a statement Saturday night, he wrote: “Politics and participating in our democratic process isn’t easy. Over the coming months I look forward to a spirited debate with Jason Kenney and the UCP about Alberta’s future.

“On the topic of that debate, I want to make a few things clear. In my view the UCP represent a step backward for Alberta. Many of Jason Kenney’s views risk undoing Alberta’s progress on human rights and social equality. Equally concerning are his Klein-era fiscal policies which threaten both Alberta’s economic future and valued public services.”

The statement went on to read: “For those Albertans troubled by the regressive values of the UCP and frustrated with the mismanagement of the NDP, the Alberta Liberals offer a third choice. The times are changing and our politics have to change with them. The Alberta Liberals are the party that will move Alberta forward, not backward.”

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Kenney was the central figure in a push to see the Alberta Progressive Conservatives and the Wildrose Party join forces on the right to fight the governing NDP.

He won the leadership of the PCs earlier this year after criss-crossing the province, beating the unity drum.

WATCH: Jason Kenney wins UCP leadership race

Members of both parties voted 95 per cent in favour of a merger.

Kenney now leads an Opposition caucus of 27 members.

He does not hold a seat in the legislature.

with files from the Canadian Press