It was one of the worst-kept secrets in Alberta politics, and earlier today it became official. Jason Kenney has announced that he will seek the leadership of the Alberta PC Party. The long-time federal politician says he was originally being pushed to try to lead the Conservative Party of Canada.

“I thank all of those people for their confidence in me. However, after a great deal of reflection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I can more effectively serve this country that I love and advance the Conservative cause in a different way.”

As a former federal politician, Kenney argues he’s “unencumbered” by the past decade of Alberta politics. The Calgary MP says he’ll be running with the explicit mandate of uniting the Tory and Wildrose parties.

“We must put Alberta first and we must focus on the future, not the past; on what unites us, not what divides us. We must come together to form a single, free-enterprise party and we must do so before the next election.”

Combined, the two right-leaning parties earned 52 per cent of the vote in the 2015 election, to the NDP’s 40.6. Kenney has not yet said whether he will resign his federal seat, but Grande Prairie – Mackenzie MP Chris Warkentin says it’s his full intention to do so.

The first stop on Kenney’s campaign will be Grande Prairie, as he speaks to the public tonight at 4Tress Estates, west of the airport. Warkentin says that shows he recognizes the role the Peace Country plays in the province.