Rajan Sawhney nominated as UCP candidate for Calgary-North West

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Rajan Sawhney nominated as UCP candidate for Calgary-North West
WATCH ABOVE: An Alberta cabinet minister who recently said she would not be seeking re-election in Calgary has now been named the UCP candidate in Calgary-North West. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports. – Apr 1, 2023

The province has announced the United Conservative Party candidacy of Rajan Sawhney for Calgary-North West.

Sawhney previously declined to run in her current jurisdiction of Calgary-North East.

The spot in Calgary-North West opened up earlier this month after minister Sonya Savage announced she would not be running in the upcoming election.

“It’s an honour to be appointed as the candidate in Calgary-North West by our leader and to have the ability to continue serving Albertans. I deeply love this province and I look forward to gaining the support of Calgary- North West in the upcoming election,” Sawhney said in a statement to Global News.

Sawhney, the minister of trade, immigration and multiculturalism under Danielle Smith’s current UCP government, was elected in 2019 for the Calgary-North East riding.

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Premier Smith said Sawhney has played a vital role in her cabinet and wanted to keep Sawhney involved even after she initially stepped down.

“When she stepped down in North East, we knew the timing wasn’t right, we knew we needed to get these nominations going … it wasn’t the right timing for her,” Smith said during her radio show Your Province, Your Premier Saturday morning.

“She’s been doing incredible work on clearing pathways so that more people can come into our province; she’s been helping with Ukrainian settlement and doing a tremendous job.

“So, when Sonya Savage told me she was going to step down so that she could spend more time with family, I went back to minister Sawhney and I said ‘Do you think you might want to run there?’”

Michael Lisboa-Smith, the NDP nominee slated to run in Calgary-North West said he looks forward to a competitive election later this spring.

“I know many folks will be asking why Rajan Sawhney is appointed the UCP candidate in our community after she declined to contest the UCP nomination in the riding she currently represents,” he said in a statement.

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“I welcome Rajan Sawhney to the Calgary-North West race. I’m very proud to have been nominated by our local members in a competitive nomination and our team has been on the doorsteps and out in the community for the past six months. Our neighbours are eager to get rid of the chaos and costs of Danielle Smith and the UCP.”

Political scientist Duane Bratt put forward the possibility of this being a strategic political move.

“I think it’s obvious that she was going to be in a really tough battle to win the nomination in Calgary-North East. And even if she won the nomination, winning in the general election was also going to be tough,” he said. “North-West Calgary is not a slam dunk for the UCP, but it’s easier than North-East Calgary right now, and she doesn’t have to go through the nomination battle.”

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When it comes down to voting, Bratt said people don’t necessarily care whether political candidates are from their jurisdiction or not.

“Quite frankly people — when they go to vote — they don’t care. Danielle Smith doesn’t live in Brooks or Medicine Hat. Jason Kenney did not live in Calgary Lougheed,” he said of the current and former premier who both represented ridings where they didn’t live.

Sawhney, who is seen as a moderate conservative to many “hard-core” conservatives, has “been branded as a liberal by a certain group within the party, which is why they were targeting her for the nomination,” Bratt said.

“I think it was important to keep people like Rajan Sawhney in the tent because the groups, the people that have been leaving, have been largely the moderates within the UCP and bringing her back I think may help, but it raises a lot of questions about what changed over the last six weeks.”

The Alberta provincial election is set for May 29.

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