While he may be lesser known than other candidates, Doug Schweitzer believes there will be a three-way race for leadership of the United Conservative Party this fall.
“Early on in the campaign we knew we were coming in with a lower profile than the other candidates, but now that we’ve been out there for a few months, we’re getting more and more coverage in the media; we’re getting larger and larger events. Look for us in September; we’re going to be holding some big rallies across the province.”
The Calgary lawyer was in Grande Prairie and Valleyview last week, meeting with residents and telling them about his campaign. Schweitzer says he has ties to the region, as his grandparents homesteaded in the Beaverlodge area after World War II. He sees it playing a big role in the future of the province.
“Seeing the economic growth that is happening here in Grande Prairie now and the potential that is there for the next five to 10 years, we need to have a real road map and plan to make sure we handle that growth responsibly and make sure Grande Prairie doesn’t become the next Fort McMurray where we have bottlenecks getting our products to market.”
Schweitzer is a long-time PC Party member and was Jim Prentice’s campaign manager in 2014. He calls himself socially moderate, and wants to see the UCP hold inclusive values.
“My wife and I, we’ve got two little girls and we want to make sure that my daughters have the same opportunities as anybody else in this province. We’re making sure that we campaign on equality issues, as well as things like affordable housing and dealing with addictions in creative ways that make sure it works for people.”
He’s also proposing an economic plan he calls fiscally responsible, with tax cuts and balanced budget in the government’s first term. That includes replacing progressive income tax with a flat tax of 10 per cent for people making more than $100,000 a year and nine per cent for those making less.
So far, Schweitzer is up against former PC leader Jason Kenney, former Wildrose leader Brian Jean and former Wildrose president Jeff Callaway for leadership of the new political party. He has some criticisms for their campaigns so far, especially after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“In today’s day and age, politics is minute-by-minute, and if you don’t respond quickly and articulate your values clearly, people will question you. We’ve seen that go after the new UCP here; it’s been in existence for a few weeks and it’s been numerous stories of people saying we’re against the gay and lesbian community and protecting people that are racist.”
The United Conservative Party leadership election will be held on October 28, 2017.